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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Jeff Navarro appointed as Visa’s new country manager for Philippines, Guam

Manila, Philippines – Global digital payments company Visa has appointed Jeff Navarro as its new country manager for the Philippines and Guam. He succeeds previous country manager Dan Wolbert, who has moved to a new role for Visa North America.

Navarro was previously the regional vice president for the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indochina at Western Union. He also served as the president and chairman of the board at Western Union Processing Services Inc. Prior to joining Western Union, he has also worked with SMART Communications and Shell across sales, brand, and business development roles.

Speaking on his appointment, he said, “It is a great pleasure for me to join Visa, a global leader in payments and money movement, areas which are near and dear to my heart. I am excited and honoured to have the opportunity to lead a team of seasoned professionals, who share the drive and passion to further widen financial inclusion for all Filipinos.” 

He added, “I look forward to working closely with our clients, fintechs, the regulator, and all stakeholders to grow digital payments in the country, and enable individuals, businesses, and economies to thrive.”

Meanwhile, Tareq Muhmood, Visa’s Group Country Manager for Regional Southeast Asia, said, “I am delighted to have Jeff lead our team in the Philippines and Guam as the country manager. Jeff’s regional experience and in-depth knowledge of the financial services industry will be an asset for Visa and will serve him well in leading our team.”

He added, “Jeff and the team will drive our business agenda with clients, consumers, and regulators in the Philippines and Guam, in line with our purpose to uplift everyone, everywhere by being the best way to pay and be paid.” 

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SME Featured South Asia

Pomelo Pay partners with Sri Lankan telco Dialog Axiata to digitalise payments for SMEs

Singapore – Digital payments company Pomelo Pay (Pomelo), which has its regional HQ in Singapore, has announced a partnership with Dialog Axiata (Dialog), Sri Lanka’s premier telco, to consolidate and provide an enhanced payment platform for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Sri Lanka, helping them to digitalise and accept payments.

The partnership is in line with Pomelo’s plans to expand its global presence in Asia and Europe and will consolidate about 80,000 SME merchants across Dialog’s multiple platforms, including ezCash into a common payment platform Genie. These merchants will be able to send and receive payments securely and seamlessly via QR codes and track all their transactions within the same payment interface via their mobile or online.

The programme also goes in line with Dialog’s mission to champion financial inclusion for over 1 million businesses in Sri Lanka. SMEs in Sri Lanka account for more than 75% of the total number of enterprises attributing to 45% of employment and 52% of the country’s GDP, according to data from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in Sri Lanka. 

Vincent Choi, CEO of Pomelo, said, “SMEs in South and Southeast Asia face massive challenges in digitalising and accepting digital payments, and we believe that Pomelo can aid growth and adoption in these markets. We are honoured to collaborate with Dialog in their mission to champion financial inclusion in Sri Lanka by empowering over one million merchants with solutions to digitalise, as the country works towards a cashless society.”

Pomelo believes its entry into Sri Lanka is timely, where the firm’s enhanced payment platform will integrate with the national LANKAQR standard which will allow Dialog to offer its merchants a low-cost and seamless digital payment methods to opt for over traditional Point-of-Sales (POS) terminals. 

in October 2020, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) introduced LANKAQR as a way for merchants, particularly SMEs, to initiate and accept payments using mobile devices.

Commenting on this partnership, Renuka Fernando, group chief digital services officer of Dialog Axiata, added, “We are excited to partner with Pomelo who has expertise in providing seamless and intuitive solutions to merchants globally. As Sri Lanka works towards a cashless society, Dialog is committed to empower and enrich Sri Lankan lives and businesses with accessible, inclusive and convenient digital solutions.”

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

VNPAY, Visa join forces in promoting digital payments in Vietnam

Vietnam – The Vietnam Payment Solution Joint Stock Company or VNPAY has entered into a partnership with global payments company Visa to improve the digital payment experience in Vietnam.

Through the partnership, Visa and VNPAY will bring digital payments closer to Vietnamese users by strengthening and expanding the network of partners accepting electronic payments, and cooperating to deploy new services to users as well, including a solution to accept contactless payments via mobile phones (Tap to Phone), Visa prepaid virtual cards, Visa Direct money transfer and receipt services and instalment solutions Visa Installment Solution (VIS).

In addition, Visa and VNPAY will launch several payment solutions in the local scene, typically a solution to accept contactless payments via mobile phones (Tap to Phone). When merchants deploy this solution, any Android smartphone or tablet can become a contactless payment acceptor, operating on a software application and no hardware support is required.

Nguyen Tuan Luong, vice chairman of the board of directors at VNPAY, said, “Visa is the world’s leading multinational payment technology company. VNPAY believes that the strategic partnership with Visa will continue to promote digital payment trends, bringing many useful solutions to users and business partners in VNPAY’s network. This also makes the digital transformation process of businesses easier, creating stronger and more sustainable growth through electronic payment solutions.”

Meanwhile, Dang Tuyet Dung, director of Visa Vietnam and Laos, commented, “The strategic partnership with VNPAY will accelerate the ongoing digital transformation and cashless payment process in Vietnam. Along with making VNPAY partners and users a part of Visa’s secure and reliable digital payment ecosystem, the deployment of digital capabilities of both sides also helps to expand the electronic payment network. death of Visa and drive adoption of contactless payments.”

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Main Feature Platforms Southeast Asia

What’s NEXT: Unpacking opportunities in digital finance for 2022

The Singapore Business Times reports that in the Asia-Pacific region, more than 21% of the population is unbanked. This is most apparent in Southeast Asia, where more than 44% of people do not have bank accounts. The disparity between the banked and unbanked in the region creates opportunities for digital financial services to close the gap, with the acceleration in adoption already being seen in Southeast Asia. A 2021 report from MoEngage reports a 55% increase in daily users across all digital banking activities.

MoEngage
Source: MoEngage

This movement is led primarily by millennials and Gen Z, who have readily embraced services from online banking to digital wallets. In Singapore and Vietnam, for example, commercial banks have launched digital banking solutions targeted specifically for their younger consumers. UOB, a Singaporean multinational investment bank and financial services company, launched TMRW, an AI-powered mobile-only bank. And MSB, Vietnam’s leading commercial bank, launched TNEX, the first digital-only bank in the country.

Another fast-emerging trend is mobile payments, stemming from the increased usage of mobile phones in Southeast Asian markets. The Fintech Times reports that in the Philippines, there are at least 1.59 mobile phones for every person. Acceptance of mobile payments by both consumer and retailer has paved the way for non-financial companies like Grab, a leading mobile app for transportation and food delivery services in Southeast Asia, and regional e-commerce platforms like Lazada and Shopee, to offer their consumers new cash payment methods.

While giants like Apple, Google, Alibaba, and Tencent have led the way for card-based mobile wallets in more developed markets, stored value mobile wallets are more popular in emerging markets. Credit-card and debit-card usage are lower in the latter, paving the way for local players to grab a share of the growing pie. Some of the top mobile wallet players are GCash (Philippines), GrabPay (Malaysia), Ovo (Indonesia), TrueMoney (Thailand), and MoMo (Vietnam), per a 2021 Boku report.

The growth of digital finance technology and adoption is uncovering new opportunities for marketers in 2022 and beyond, and there are four ways in which these opportunities could be unlocked.

1. Delivery of hyper-targeted ads and end-to-end experiences

The growing scale and data captured by apps with digital finance components provide opportunities for hyper-targeted advertising, where audiences are selected based on their financial capability and purchasing behaviour. Moreover, the loop from awareness to purchase to loyalty can be closed all in a single platform. 

Grab is one of the largest mobile apps in Southeast Asia with a 142m estimated number of users from 400 cities and towns. GrabPay, its financial arm, has been showing robust growth with total payments increasing by 60% year-on-year. The app allows for targeting of audiences based on day-to-day transactions and activities such as the type of card and size of spending along with restaurant visits and shopping behaviours, going beyond the typical interest and affinity-based targeting that relies on proxies of engagement.

Source: Grab

Alongside targeting the right audiences, marketers can drive awareness and consideration through Grab’s placement assets, conversions are fluidly done through GrabFood or GrabMart and loyalty points can be provided through GrabRewards. 

2. Providing more meaningful offers and incentives

Based on the survey of global insurance provider Swiss Re, 58% of respondents across Southeast Asian markets actively searched for new insurance policies during the pandemic and nearly half are open to purchasing new policies because of the outbreak. Digital finance companies are increasing the accessibility of policies through micro-insurance with low cash outlays, especially appealing to Gen Z and millennials.

Marketers can now use digitally distributed policies to make offerings and incentives more relevant for younger generations. For instance, Digi Telecommunications, a mobile service provider in Malaysia, partnered with AXA Affin, a multinational insurance and finance company, to provide free life insurance to its new prepaid plan subscribers. Similarly, Tiki, an e-commerce site in Vietnam, partnered with FWD, a life insurance company, to provide free coverage for 100,000 customers. 

3. Scaling promotions beyond point-of-purchase

One of the key benefits of digital finance is the ease of distribution of digital vouchers and rewards. Mobile wallets are already being used as distribution channels for relief funds or e-vouchers of food and medicine. Brands can capitalize on this phenomenon through digital-based promotions and sampling, giving them a broader scale versus on-ground activations. This is especially relevant in the pandemic environment wherein mounting events or delivering items are more challenging due to varying restrictions. Instead of manually handing out coupons and prizes, marketers can now partner with e-wallet apps for cashback promos and automated rewards redemption.

4. Increasing the accessibility of products and services

Traditionally, purchasing big-ticket items can only be done by the small base of affluent consumers paying with cash or with credit cards. Today, even the unbanked can pay in instalments with convenient applications and fast approvals through e-commerce platforms. Ecommerce platform Lazada partners with financial apps in the Philippines and offers LazPayLater in Indonesia to allow non-credit card customers to pay in increments. Shopee offers SPayLater in Indonesia and Thailand, wherein loans of select unbanked customers are approved in as fast as 10 minutes.

As more consumers try to stretch their money, they will be more open to purchasing in instalments with minimal interest. Instead of relying solely on credit cards, marketers now have the option to expand their financial partners to e-commerce websites and digital loan providers to enable more audiences to buy their products.

Digital finance adoption is accelerating as consumers become more knowledgeable about the industry’s products and services. Digital finance has created new possibilities for brands and retailers across a myriad of marketing touchpoints, and marketers should be capitalizing on these opportunities to be the first in reaping its benefits.

Elizabeth Shie (left) and Abygayle Brani (right)

This article was written by Elizabeth Shie, senior regional strategist at UM APAC, and Abygayle Brani, regional marketing & communications strategist at UM APAC.

The article is published as part of MARKETECH APAC’s thought leadership series What’s NEXT. This features marketing leaders sharing their marketing insights and predictions for the upcoming year. The series aims to equip marketers with actionable insights to future-ready their marketing strategies.

If you are a marketing leader and have insights that you’d like to share with regards to the upcoming trends and practices in marketing, please reach out to [email protected] for an opportunity to have your thought-leadership published on the platform.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

ASEAN Fintech Group marks PH expansion with acquisition of JazzyPay

Manila, Philippines – ASEAN Fintech Group (AFG), a venture corporation focusing on fintech acceleration has acquired digital payments provider JazzyPay, marking the venture corporation’s expansion to the Philippines. The acquisition value of JazzyPay is valued at US$1.8m.

With the acquisition, AFG looks to leverage JazzyPay’s existing partnerships with leading national banks, e-wallets and payment processors of the metropolitan city. The platform’s team of founders and key management personnel will continue to spearhead the business’ growth, with accelerated resources and support at the group level. 

Kathleen Acosta-Marindo, co-founder and COO at JazzyPay said, “We believe working together and being a part of AFG’s fast-growing portfolio of companies will enhance our capabilities across ASEAN, fast-tracking the advancement of Southeast Asia’s fintech ecosystem and digital future.”

AFG’s expansion to the Philippines is part of its 2022 plans, which include expansion into Vietnam and Cambodia. AFG aims to create a regional omnichannel platform in the fintech space.

To date, AFG has in total invested more than US$10m to date on strategic mergers and acquisitions of burgeoning fintech startups within the region. Founders and institutional investors of the startups joining ASEAN Fintech Group were further incentivized with newly issued AFG shares, forming new partnerships with aligned interests towards the growth of the group. 

For Douglas Gan, executive director at ASEAN Fintech Group, with fintech in Southeast Asia seeing a tremendous growth in 2021, they are bullish that this rapid growth will continue into 2022 as they continue to acquire and merge with companies in the ASEAN region showing solid fundamentals.

“In fact, most of the companies that have joined us come with strong founders whose businesses are either profitable or near profitability. We also see a more matured fintech regulatory framework, guiding us through the complexities of each market. We are at a true inflection point for ASEAN fintech and we are honored to have the support of the fintech ecosystem at large,” Gan stated.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Filipinos show heightened interest on biometric-authenticated payment systems

Manila, Philippines – As more and more Filipinos are using digital banking services, a large part of this new breed of users are now also showing a heightened interest in exploring the use of biometric-authenticated payment systems, a latest study from digital payment company Visa shows.

According to the study, awareness on using these types of digital payment services rose to 80% in 2020, in contrast to 60% in 2019. Furthermore, around 8 in 10 among Filipinos showed interest in biometric-authenticated payment systems, with a greater inclination to the younger and tech-savvy generation demographic in the country.

Biometric payment is perceived as a quick (62%) and innovative (61%) way to pay. In addition five in 10 Filipinos (55%) think it is a more secure way to pay. However, usage is low at 23 percent since its accessibility depends on market availability. 

Finger scan as one of the biometric authentication methods is most popular amongst Filipinos (59%) especially for making bill payments or purchases at the convenience stores. This is followed by facial recognition (31%) and retina scan (16%).

“As more digital-based solutions and trends emerge in the market, Filipinos are more open to new innovations that make payments and banking more convenient, accessible and seamless. There is opportunity in the country for traditional banks and new players to launch digital banking services in the country that will better serve the needs of underserved and underpenetrated segments,” said Dan Wolbert, country manager for the Philippines and Guam at Visa.

The study also noted that over eight in 10 Filipinos (83%) are aware and interested (81%) in using digital banking services. However, only 32% of respondents are currently using services offered by a digital bank. Top interest drivers for Filipinos to use digital banking services include access to banking services anytime of the day (68%), time saved from not having to queue at bank branches (68%) and convenience (67%). 

The general status quo of the Filipino digital payments scene

The study also showed that Filipinos are most keen to work with a financial services brand for digital banking services (93%) and traditional banks (92%), followed by new start-ups with digital banking services (72%). 

Filipinos interested in banking with digital banks are keen to use services such as paying bills (84%), transferring money locally (78%), making deposits and withdrawals (76%), and making payments for purchases at local retail locations (71%). However, the preference of using digital banking for traditional bank services such as investments (52%), international transfers (48%) and loans (46%) is lower.

In addition, 86% of Filipino respondents would switch current banking services to digital banking services if the bank provided better rewards and 85% would do so if they can benefit from lower costs for their banking transactions. Filipinos’ interest to use digital banking services increased to 80% compared to 70% in the previous year when the same research was conducted.

“We believe this will transform the banking and payments landscape in the country and at Visa, we are keen to work with all our partners to help them create better user interface and experience when they create and enhance their digital banking solutions,” Wolbert added.

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Technology Featured Southeast Asia

AsiaPay to enable e-payment acceptance via chat, partners with CX Qiscus

Jakarta, Indonesia – Digital payment solution AsiaPay has partnered with Qiscus, a multi-channel conversation platform, to simplify digital payment processes for customers through the provision of a chat and call/meet software development kit.

Through the partnership, AsiaPay aims to extend its digital payment transaction services through conversation commerce via chat for its merchants’ customers which will enable businesses in Asia to accept digital payments through chat platforms so that customers can make direct payments to them easily and practically anytime. 

To customers, it further addresses the trends of making purchases during conversation, as customers find it simpler and more convenient. To merchants, it also helps businesses meet the challenges of changing customer behaviors with enhanced customer experience.

According to Joseph Chan, CEO at AsiaPay, the partnership recognizes the greater need of businesses to digitize their presence, especially as the pandemic brought to many companies unprecedented challenges, and has accelerated growth of volume and variety of digital interactions between customers and businesses.

“We are excited to partner with Qiscus to help drive conversational commerce and engage with consumers where they spend their digital lives on messaging platforms. This multi-channel chat enables entirely new experiences, and brings new sales conversion of merchants in Asia with online chat conversation. Besides, it provides merchants with flexible payment alternatives,” Chan stated.

Meanwhile, Delta Purna Widyangga, CEO at Qiscus, said that their partnership with AsiaPay will help synergize the need for chat-based transactions in particular sectors, such as retail, insurance, hospitality, and others. 

“Additionally, we are looking to include AsiaPay as our partner in their customer experience ecosystem. The Qiscus CX Ecosystem is a marketplace that allows existing Qiscus customers to choose a payment option provided by AsiaPay. Qiscus also expects to move forward with AsiaPay towards enabling a chat-based payment mechanism where sellers and buyers can transact seamlessly via a Conversational UI in a simple process,” Widyangga added.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

ShopeePay further eyes top e-wallet status via tie-up with PH’s Puregold

Manila, Philippines –ShopeePay, Shopee’s in-app digital wallet, is fast becoming an entity of its own, with the e-commerce continuously introducing partners and features that move it beyond its primary function – as payment for orders on the platform. This time, ShopeePay in the Philippines has partnered with one of the leading supermarkets in the country, Puregold. 

The tie-up will see the leverage of the use of QR codes for over-the-counter grocery purchases. Puregold has over 406 branches nationwide. The shopper, once at the cashier of any branch, will only need to inform first that he intends to pay with ShopeePay. Once the shopper goes to his ShopeePay wallet action bar, he will need to tap ‘Scan’, and click QR / Barcode, and enter his 6-digit ShopeePay PIN. The shopper will then present the generated QR code to the cashier for scanning, and receive a confirmation of the payment once done.

“Puregold is excited to partner with ShopeePay for this initiative. At Puregold, we want to give our customers only the best kind of service and overall quality shopping experience, and that includes easier and safer payment methods. Through the convenience of digital payments, we aim to increase customer enthusiasm while consumers maintain their purchasing power,” said Ferdinand Vincent Co, the president of Puregold.

Meanwhile, Martin Yu, the director of Shopee Philippines, commented, “We are always thrilled to partner with one of the Filipinos’ favorite brands, such as Puregold. Through ShopeePay, we strive to ensure that users can shop and pay with ease. In addition to the ease of use, ShopeePay offers several benefits to users which include convenience, a seamless user experience, security, and greater cost savings.” 

By using ShopeePay, shoppers can also enjoy up to 20% cashback starting today, 21 April until 31 December 2021.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

SG multi-currency mobile wallet YouTrip inks partnership with Visa

Singapore – YouTrip, Singapore’s multi-currency mobile wallet has forged a partnership with Visa, to accelerate its expansion to the rest of Southeast Asia, starting with Malaysia and the Philippines. 

Currently operating in Singapore and Thailand, the partnership comes a year after YouTrip’s first regional expansion to Thailand in partnership with Kasikornbank, one of Thailand’s largest banks. 

YouTrip believes the new partnership presents an opportunity to solve a unique pain point for Southeast Asian travelers, with regional travel poised to be the first step towards international travel recovery. 

“Unlike regional travel in other parts of the world such as Europe or the United States of America, traveling within Southeast Asia requires multi-currency spending. Coupled with the year-long pent up demand for travel and cross-border payment, this puts YouTrip in good stead for further expansion,” said the company in a press statement.  

It added, “Leveraging on Visa’s global network of 70 million merchant locations worldwide, YouTrip aims to enable Southeast Asia travelers with access to cross border payment solutions such as wholesale exchange rates and no foreign currency transaction fees in over 150 currencies.” 

YouTrip looks to Malaysia and the Philippines as the next potential markets in the next six to 12 months, where the company, referring to a PwC report, said both countries are two of the fastest-growing Southeast Asian countries in mobile payment adoption. 

Caecilia Chu, co-founder, and CEO of YouTrip shared, “Our partnership with Visa will enable our continued growth to drive the next generation of payment innovation of cross border payments. We are incredibly excited for the opportunities ahead to serve millions of consumers in Southeast Asia and empower them with the solutions they deserve.”

Kelvin Lam, regional general Manager of YouTrip, added, “In a short span of two years, we have established YouTrip as a leading multi-currency wallet in both Singapore and Thailand. With our strong foundation, we look forward to combining our market-winning expertise along with Visa’s payment innovations to the rest of Southeast Asia, starting with Malaysia and Philippines,” 

Meanwhile, Visa’s Head of Digital Partnerships for Asia Pacific Matt Wood commented, “We are excited to work with YouTrip across Southeast Asia to provide consumers and businesses with a multi-currency payment solution that is ideal for international eCommerce and cross-border travel. Together, we look forward to bringing faster, safer, and more convenient digital payments to people across the region.”

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Platforms Featured ANZ

AsiaPay ties up with Fat Zebra, expands ANZ reach

Sydney, Australia – Hong Kong-headquartered digital payment service provider and technology vendor AsiaPay has announced that it will further expand its payment platform in Australia and New Zealand thanks to a new partnership with Fat Zebra.

Similarly a payment platform, Fat Zebra is based in Australia and is said to be currently in partnership with over 25,000 merchants across the globe.

As part of the partnership, AsiaPay will leverage Fat Zebra’s processing infrastructure to access more Australian acquiring networks and domestic schemes, creating secure, seamless payments for its digital merchants across Australia and New Zealand.

Welcoming the announcement, AsiaPay Founder and CEO Joseph Chan said, “We are excited to partner with Fat Zebra and launch into Australia and New Zealand further. As part of international business expansion strategy, we identified the need for local experts to support in-market, definitely it will help AsiaPay accelerate our growth in Australia and New Zealand, while still allowing us full control and flexibility to create the digital payment values to merchants and best customer payment experience,” said Mr. Chan.

Meanwhile, Fat Zebra CEO Pred Dragila said Fat Zebra is proud to partner with AsiaPay.

“At Fat Zebra, we focus on modernising payments and giving our partners local market access through a single global platform,” said Dragila.

“Our aim is to remove the barriers to entry for our customers by giving them speed to market, the control that they need, and the optionality that they want. AsiaPay is a great trusted digital payment platform covering most of the Asian market and we’re excited to help them grow their international footprint. his partnership allows them to hit the ground running and offer its customers instant access to this region,” added Dragila.