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Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Elon Musk’s Starlink enters PH in landmark SEA expansion

Manila, Philippines — The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has approved the registration of Starlink – a low latency, broadband internet system of tech multi-billionaire Elon Musk. The approval means the Philipines will be the pioneering country in Southeast Asia to experience the service.

Starlink Internet Services Philippines Inc. is registered as a Value-Added Service (VAS). The unit will facilitate its operations in the country bringing the low earth orbit (LEO) satellite internet technology into a nation fraught with unstable internet connections.

The LEO satellite technology is touted to serve up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps) to 200 Mbps of internet speed even in remote areas. Starlink is a subsidiary of Musk’s aerospace transportation, manufacturer, and designer company -SpaceX. Starlink commands over 1,600 LEO satellites that provide satellite internet access to its customers.

NTC approved Starlink’s registration only after 30 minutes when the company submitted their application alongside the complete required documents. NTC said that the swift processing of the VAS provider registration was meant to expedite the service’s immediate roll-out.

Gamaliel Cordoba, NTC Commissioner, commented, “The NTC is steadfast in helping ensure that roll-out of Starlink’s internet access services will be done expeditiously and professionally.”

Meanwhile, Bien Marquez, counsel for SpaceX, shared, “We would like to thank the NTC for issuing Starlink’s VAS license 30 minutes after we submitted our application with complete requirements. This shows the government’s seriousness in addressing the connectivity needs of our countrymen in unserved and underserved areas.”

Previously, Ramon Lopez, DTI secretary, said, “Their system will augment as well as complement existing broadband capacities. This will further capacitate micro, small, and medium enterprises, facilitate online learning, e-commerce and fintech.”

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

PH’s Securities and Exchange Commission team up with Google PH to screen crypto ads

Manila, Philippines – The country’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has teamed up with tech giant Google to require advertisers offering cryptocurrency exchanges and wallets targeting the Philippine audience to present proof of their registration and/or license to operate in the country. 

Starting on July 7 this year, the new regulation measures by SEC and Google is part of the commission’s regulatory compliance from entities doing business online in order to protect the investing public and other financial consumers. 

Furthermore, its also adds to Google’s existing policy that requires all advertisers to comply with local laws for any area that their advertisements target. Google will take appropriate action to address any violations.

Emilio B. Aquino, chairperson at SEC, said, “This continuing partnership with Google will help the Commission fulfill its mandate as registrar and overseer of the Philippine corporate sector, as well as protector of the investing public, in the digital age.”

The SEC has consistently reminded the public to be vigilant and exercise due diligence before transacting or dealing with any entity, and those based abroad without any registration or license to do business in the Philippines. 

It has also sought to educate the public on legitimate investment options through investor protection and financial literacy campaigns online. Over the course of the pandemic, the commission has observed that several entities have taken advantage of the online space to spread investment scams supposedly engaged in cryptocurrency trading when in reality, these do not exist.

“We believe the new policy can reduce the number of Filipinos falling prey to unregistered investment schemes online, who are usually victims of aggressive online advertising and intrusive tactics that make them believe in products that are often too good to be true,” Aquino stated.

As the national government regulatory agency tasked with supervising the corporate sector, entities doing business in the Philippines must first register with the SEC, in general. Meanwhile, operators of cryptocurrency exchanges must register with the BSP as remittance and transfer companies, pursuant to BSP Circular No. 944 issued February 6, 2017. 

Discussions with Google PH started in 2019 to counter the increase of unregistered personal loan apps in the country. This year, Google has revised its policy for personal loan apps targeting users in the Philippines, requiring them to submit a Personal Loan App Declaration and other necessary documents before they could publish apps on Google Play. Failure to provide such documents will lead to the personal loan app’s removal from Google Play.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Mediabrands appoints Raymond Dizon to newly created role of chief integration officer for PH

Manila, Philippines – Mediabrands, the media and marketing solutions division of Interpublic Group, has elevated Raymond Dizon, who was previously the managing director of Reprise Philippines, to step into the newly created role of chief integration officer at Mediabrands Philippines.

In his new role, Dizon, who will be based in Manila, Philippines, will be leading strategic partnerships, direction, and digital product development and integration across the Mediabrands network of agencies including UM, Initiative, and Reprise, in addition to strategic business units such as Mediabrands Content Studio, Magna, and Orion. Dizon will also be retaining his strategic leadership oversight of Reprise Philippines.

Dizon brings with him 14 years of digital and media experience, the last six of which across Mediabrands agencies UM and Reprise. Aside from his previous roles at Mediabrands, he also worked with MediaCom, PHD Singapore, and UPFRONT MEDIA.

Dizon shared, “We are firmly focused on the goal to provide our clients with the most progressive solutions. As the market continues to evolve, and the array of tools, technologies, and synergies open up even more opportunities; we are looking to provide seamless synergy across crafts and a thoughtful blending of expert insights. I’m looking forward to the many possibilities that lay ahead.”

Meanwhile, Tricia Camarillo-Quiambao, Mediabrands’ CEO for the Philippines, commented that Dizon has a strong track record of commercial business building and specialised digital craft leadership which includes pioneering work in the e-commerce space.

“The creation of this new role is a testament to the evolving needs of our client partners which is reflected in the structure of our organisation. Raymond’s extensive expertise and experience across multiple craft and categories make him perfectly poised to take on the broader strategic remit across the network of agencies,” said Camarillo-Quiambao.

Just recently, Mediabrands has announced the launch of the media industry’s first major transformation of automated systems for more than two decades. To bring the 20-month project to life, Mediabrands partnered with global software company UI Path, and information and technology services company, Cognizant. The transition fully automates repetitive manual tasks across Initiative and UM using robotic technology, providing an enhanced career path for talent and a stronger value proposition for clients.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

City Savings Bank bolsters digital transformation, appoints new chairman of the board

Philippines — City Savings Bank (CitySavings), the thrift subsidiary of Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank), has appointed Henry R. Aguda, chief technology and operations officer and chief transformation officer of UnionBank, as its new chairman of the board. His expertise is expected to boost CitySavings’ digital transformation initiative as the bank envisions helping more people with moderate means.

Larry Ocampo, president and CEO of CitySavings, said, “Aguda brings with him a wealth of expertise that was also instrumental in UnionBank’s successful digital transformation. With his appointment as its new chairman, we are confident that CitySavings will be able to go further in its transformation journey, allowing it to cater to the underserved segment much better.”

On his appointment, Aguda said, “CitySavings has been helping many of our kababayans through accessible financing options, and our priority is to bring these loans to even more potential customers by optimizing the Bank’s existing customer touch points and the infrastructures that support them, powered by AI models created by our Data Science and AI Team.”

CitySavings has seen great results with its initial pilot of AI-driven solutions that utilized historical data to improve customer relevance for loans availed, achieving a conversion rate of 35 per cent in its testing phase. CitySavings also created an in-house credit scoring model to complement its AI capabilities, which resulted in improved turnaround time and enabled the bank to raise its motorcycle loans portfolio to ₱7.06b as of end-March.

CitySavings’s stronger, AI-focused digital push is seen to magnify the success of these projects, allowing the Bank to serve even more customers. With its primary goal of becoming the Philippines’ leading thrift bank, CitySavings sees digital transformation as a necessary step in achieving this goal. By utilizing emerging technologies as well as key learnings from its parent bank UnionBank, CitySavings hopes to shore up its digital capabilities, and in turn, create products and services that are more meaningful to Filipinos.

On the bank’s strives for digital transformation, Ocampo said, “This renewed commitment to digitally transforming our organization will allow us to harness innovation like never before and serve our customers better. CitySavings has always been one with UnionBank in envisioning a future where everyone is empowered by technology and this brand new chapter for us opens new possibilities toward achieving that vision.”

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

7-Eleven welcomes Pinoys back to work with quirky “7-Eleven Minutes Late” campaign

Manila, Philippines — Filipinos are notorious for one quirk; they are on time on their own time. The Filipino behaviour of being late is so famous that the term ‘Filipino Time’ has been coined to call the phenomenon. Due to this, 7-Eleven, the popular convenience store, has collaborated with advertising agency MullenLowe Treyna to highlight this lowlight in their stores.

7-Eleven’s latest campaign entitled ‘7-Eleven Minutes Late’ is a playful rejoinder to the concept of ‘Filipino Time,’ a cultural phenomenon of always arriving past the agreed meeting time. The series from MullenLowe Treyna features popular excuses—from traffic jams to train delays—often texted by those who are running late, yet still have the audacity to stop for an iced coffee anyway.

Placement is the series’ biggest irony. They are displayed in 7-Eleven—the country’s largest convenience store chain, and a favourite stopover for those who are running late for work.

One image shows, “MRT Na! Huhu,” from a texter presumably on the train. Another reads, “Huhu. EDSA Na!” from a texter stuck in traffic on EDSA. EDSA is the main thoroughfare, notorious for heavy traffic. The next one, “Lapit na” implies that they are close to the office, but could conceivably be anywhere, even getting a soda and a doughnut in 7-Eleven.

Whatever the excuse may be, 7-Eleven has enough of them hanging around their stores for Pinoys to pick from or for workmates to poke fun at when they see it.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Women’s health ecosystem Ease Healthcare launches mobile app in PH

Manila, Philippines – Women’s health ecosystem in Asia, Ease Healthcare, has officially launched its digital health services and mobile app in the Philippines, aimed at empowering Filipinas with the tools and support they need to make informed decisions about their sexual, reproductive, and menstrual health and wellness. 

Through the Ease app, users can gain access to convenient, affordable, personalised, and credible women’s health information and services from the comfort of their own homes. Users can access teleconsultations with leading local medical professionals for their various women’s health needs, as well as opt for discreet medication delivered right to their doorsteps within one to two business days in Metro Manila and Antipolo, and three to 10 days for the rest of the Philippines. Ease will also be building more in-app community features localised to the specific needs of Filipino women.

As part of the app launch, Ease has partnered with ‘It’s OK to Delay’, an SBC (social and behaviour change) campaign by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) ReachHealth project, to educate young adults in the Philippines about family planning and contraception. This partnership has launched a virtual live event, ‘Girls Helping Girls’, which was held in April 2022, focused on family planning.

Together with local organisations such as Philippine Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM), Ease also aims to address four key access gaps for women’s health in the Philippines through its services, namely inconvenience, high costs, stigma, and lack of education. 

Juan Antonio A. Perez III, POPCOM’s executive director, said that in a conservative society like the Philippines, women’s health is not often openly discussed, which has led many young women to come unprepared in making informed decisions about family planning and their own sexual and reproductive health matters. 

“We’re excited to democratise conversations on women’s health with Ease, and we look forward to more partnerships with them in the future,” added Perez.

Meanwhile, Guadalupe Lazaro, Ease Healthcare’s co-founder, noted, “Besides providing greater education, we also wanted to build a safe community for women to exchange information and ideas without feeling judged so that more could make informed decisions about their own health. Through these efforts, we hope to change the landscape of women’s health in the Philippines.”

Rio Ho, Ease Healthcare’s co-founder, shared that today, they have over 12,000 women in the Philippines alone using their app and teleconsultation services, and they look forward to growing this community with this official launch. 

“We hope to establish ourselves as a trusted and reliable source for women’s health services and education in the country,” said Ho.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Home Credit teams up with Manila Broadcasting Company, PraXis, for on-air financial literacy program

Manila, Philippines – Consumer finance company Home Credit in the Philippines has partnered with the Manila Broadcasting Company (MBC) and local independent media agency PraXis, to produce an on-air radio program over MBC’s radio station DZRH and its sister stations across the archipelago.

The two-minute daily radio show will discuss topics around the fundamental financial literacy issues every Filipino needs to know—saving money, managing budget, accessible financial options, rising above debts, growing money, and tips on entrepreneurship. The radio program will also tackle digital transformation and financial fraud prevention.

Said effort is in line with Home Credit’s thrust of championing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) programs by pushing financial inclusion among the underserved sector in the country. This is also in support of the government’s goal of pushing financial literacy to more Filipinos, especially among those in the informal sector.

Ken Lerona, head of PR at Home Credit Philippines, said, “With the majority of Filipinos still trying to rise from the effects of the pandemic, the financial literacy radio program hopes to uplift the lives of the hard-working class by helping them choose sound decisions in managing their hard-earned money and keeping their overall financial health.”

He added, “Now, more than ever, we need to own our part and collaborate to help the nation, especially our fellow Filipinos who are unbanked and underserved. Through this collaboration with DZRH and PraXis, we at Home Credit hope to push financial inclusion and financial literacy to millions of our kababayans (countrymen) across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.”

To effectively carry out this radio program, Home Credit Philippines and PraXis will collaborate to find topics that will help address and shed light on Filipinos’ financial concerns.

Jun Nicdao, president of the Manila Broadcasting Company, commented, “As the most credible A.M. station that Filipinos listen to, it is an honour for us at MBC-DZRH to provide Home Credit the platform to promote financial literacy among Filipinos. We are confident that through this partnership, we will be able to equip Filipinos with the right values and knowledge that will help them come up with the right decisions in their personal finances.”

Meanwhile, Gladys Basinillo, CEO at PraXis, said, “We are delighted to be part of Home Credit and DZRH’s advocacy in promoting financial literacy and inclusion among Filipinos. It is a collaboration that we really look forward to, and we hope to inspire Filipinos to be better at managing their finances. We’re excited to bring people and institutions together in making initiatives that can impact the lives of Filipinos.”

The financial literacy program will air on DZRH beginning June 2022, during its prime time between 4:00 to 5:00 a.m.

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Technology Featured Southeast Asia

TM Wholesale, Globe join hands to level up PH gaming and esports services

​Philippines — TM Wholesale, the wholesale arm of Telekom Malaysia (TM), has signed a collaborative agreement with Globe Telecom (Globe), for a nationwide rollout of Globe’s co-branded gaming solution called Globe Gamer Grounds powered by Ember in the Philippines.

The partnership will provide Globe with access to Swarmio’s plug-and-play Ember platform for gaming that will enhance Globe’s gaming and e-sports services and bring it closer to its millions of mobile and broadband end users. Leveraging TM’s established global network and infrastructure ecosystems, the platform enables Globe’s customers to enjoy ultra-low latency gaming experiences with faster download speeds.

As an established digital solutions provider in the Philippines and an enormous provider of telecommunications services, the Globe Group of companies also has a significant presence in various digital solutions businesses, leveraging its substantial customer base, distribution capabilities, and strategic partnerships to establish a footprint that spans numerous industry sectors including fintech, healthcare, entertainment, adtech, e-commerce, manpower, IT services, and venture capital.

Amar Huzaimi Md Deris, EVP of TM Wholesale, stated that they are thrilled to collaborate with Globe as the gaming and e-sports industry is now considered the world’s biggest entertainment industry, with ASEAN gamers dominating the market.

“As a regional operator, TM Wholesale takes pride in making superior gaming experiences accessible to the industry via our wholesale offerings which provide a seamless and high-quality digital experience to users. This collaboration also aligns with our vision to create a more vibrant digital ecosystem throughout the region,” Deris adds.

Meanwhile, Ralph Aligada, head of Globe Games and Esports, shared, “With Globe’s all-in-one gaming platform, the community of gamers will enjoy a seamless and high quality digital experience. We are hopeful that with this agreement, there will be more opportunities and innovative solutions that would benefit our gaming community and users in the country, perhaps even across the region.”

Previously, TM Wholesale and Swarmio Media, a Canada-based gaming and e-sports technology company established a partnership to provide accessible and high-quality digital gaming and e-sports services throughout ASEAN. This partnership with Globe marks a breakthrough in TM’s collaboration with Swarmio Media, enhancing e-sports gaming and levelling up digital experiences for the Philippines and across the region.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Crypto wallet Coins.ph to amp up Web3 investment 

Manila, Philippines – Local fiat and crypto wallet services provider Coins.ph has raised US$30m in their latest series C funding to accelerate investment in its Web3 ecosystem, as well as expand its presence in Southeast Asia.

In addition, the additional funding will support the company by reinforcing the platform’s crypto-native credentials and adding new products and services. Current growth plans include adding more cryptocurrency tokens, upgrading and relaunching the Coins.Pro exchange, offering additional crypto-focused merchant and payment services, supporting GameFi and guild management products, and entering new geographies.

For Wei Zhou, CEO of Coins.ph, the new funding is a significant milestone for the platform, and will allow them to accelerate and scale faster, bringing them one step closer to achieving their vision of being the go-to platform for all crypto, Web3, and P2E gaming in Southeast Asia.

He also added that as the Philippines continues to witness the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies, there is a real need for a secure, regulated, and user-friendly product in the market. Zhou also noted that they are solving that problem by delivering crypto and payment services that allow their customers to access, invest, trade, and spend their crypto assets seamlessly as a part of their daily lifestyles.

“We enable our users, even those without bank accounts, to easily access a wide range of financial services directly from their mobile phones. Our mission is to increase financial inclusion across Southeast Asia’s largely unbanked population of 650 million through our highly trusted brand and long track record of operating in full compliance with regulations. We see a massive opportunity to capture new users as engagement with Web3 surges in the Philippines and beyond. We will continue to build upon our leading market share and acquire new customers with a product that connects digital-first users with real-world goods and services,” he stated.

Coins.ph had been previously bought out by Zhou, who previously served as the chief financial officer at Binance, alongside Joffre Capital. Through the buyout, Zhou has been appointed as Coins.ph’s new CEO, as well as serving as CEO of the platform’s holding company that also operates Thailand’s blockchain-enabled platform, Coins.co.th.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Shopper marketing consultancy Behaviorally expands to PH, appoints Joy Abella-Yu as new VP

Manila, Philippines – Shopper marketing consultancy, Behaviorally, has announced its expansion to the Philippines, servicing its clients from a new Manila hub, with Joy Abella-Yu, former senior director for business development and media at insights and consulting company Kantar Philippines, joining as the new vice president.

Aside from her previous role at Kantar, Abella-Yu has also held leadership roles at numerous research agencies, as well as client companies, including Johnson & Johnson, The Hershey Company, and Procter & Gamble, amongst others. She has over 15 years of market and consumer insights experience having worked throughout SEA and in the US. Abella-Yu will be joined by Kat Lim, Behaviorally’s director of client development, servicing brands in the region from the new hub.

According to Behaviorally, this move is the latest in Behaviorally’s rapid expansion in Asia and globally including new offices in Switzerland, Australia, New York City, France, and Germany. Behaviorally applies a digital-first approach to shopper research, a unique behavioural framework, state of the art AI technology, and decades of category expertise to define and diagnose the factors that influence consumer behaviour and drive shopper growth at both the digital and physical shelf.

Crispin Beale, Behaviorally’s group president, said that Abella-Yu’s extensive experience will help FMCG companies in and outside of Asia shape their go-to-market and retail strategies, as well as develop successful innovations.

“Plus her knowledge of media and digital trends make her the perfect fit for helping us implement our strategic vision in this region and guide our customers to success,” added Beale.