The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the whole world to drastically change its old ways. Most of its population went into isolation to flatten the curve. In the Philippines, Luzon has been placed under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), which meant limited mobility and fewer options for most people since businesses were closed down.
Since everyone is affected by a general anxiety of contracting the coronavirus, private citizens have also imposed upon themselves to observe safer and more hygienic practices to avoid transmission of the disease. While these were once deemed “alternatives” before the pandemic struck, they are sure to remain in the post-COVID world as part of the new normal.
One of these practices is cashless transactions. Digital payments are not a matter of convenience anymore. Given the circumstances, it could be a matter of life and death to those who are more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19.
“Now more than ever, financial technology (fintech) will play a big part in defining a “new normal” for the Philippines in the midst of a public health crisis. We believe that digital payments should be the bedrock of digital services, as we need to limit the social interaction between people and reduce the risk of contracting the virus from common surfaces such as paper money,” GCash Chief Technology and Operations Officer Pebbles Sy said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) encouraged the public to wash their hands after handling paper money. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno echoed this sentiment in the country, saying that digital transactions have advantages in the face of a pandemic.
In fact, studies state that paper money increases the risk of coronavirus transmission since it can harbor harmful bacteria and viruses for several days. Thus, many governments from around the world such as China and the United States were reportedly forced to disinfect banknotes before recirculating them back into the economy. In Europe, even banknotes are being subjected to almost two weeks of quarantine, according to the Federal Reserve.
The risks introduced by cash also apply to the use of credit and debit cards in physical transactions. Doing business in a conventional way negates the efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 since this would mean that exchanging cards and receipts would violate social distancing rules even if it is just for a matter of seconds.
GCash, the leading mobile wallet in the Philippines, provides a better alternative to cash as it offers reduced costs and efficiency of transactions, better transparency and security, offers greater convenience and promotes financial inclusion.
“With most of the country under different levels of quarantine, digital finance is emerging as the core of services in the country. Everything from donation drives to food delivery services to public service utilities went digital. Businesses that have been forced to halt physical operations have used e-wallets like GCash to save themselves from bankruptcy,” Sy said.
GCash is a platform that eliminates the issue of accessibility as well since anyone with a smartphone can easily join the growing community of people using digital finance. Its free app does not only innovate money transfer, but it also provides other services such as credit, insurance, and even investments.
Globe Fintech Innovations Inc. (Mynt), which operates GCash, is part of the portfolio companies of 917Ventures, the largest corporate incubator in the Philippines wholly-owned by Globe Telecom Inc. GCash is available for download on the App Store and Google Play. For more information, kindly visit https://www.gcash.com/.