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.” 

SME Featured South Asia

Fintech WEBXPAY ties with Visa to expand scope of digital payments for SMBs in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka’s online payment gateway solution provider, WEBXPAY, has partnered with global payments company Visa to expand the scope of the country’s digital economy by enabling seamless, effortless, and sustainable digital payment acceptance solutions for SMBs across Sri Lanka. 

The partnership provides WEBXPAY with a boost to faster achieve its goal of empowering SMBs island-wide with face-to-face digital payment acceptance capability, offering them access to Visa cardholders across the globe. This in turn will increase scalability for the small business sector and consequently aid its recovery.

As a new member of the Visa Acceptance Fast Track Programme for APAC, WEBXPAY hopes to widen its net of financial inclusion by enabling digital payment acceptance to 10,000 new-to-digital Sri Lankan SMBs by 2025, aiming for a Gross Merchant Volume (GMV) of Rs 10 billion by 2025 to elevate the country’s digital economy. This will help increase contactless payment acceptance through soft POS, enable tap-to-phone payments with soft POS technology and bring about low-cost face-to-face transaction acceptance. In a post-pandemic economy, this will also help merchants rebuild and increase sales to more consumers and improve customer loyalty; all while offering their shoppers a friction-free digital payment experience at checkout.

Avanthi Colombage, Visa’s country manager for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, shared that small businesses have always been keen to adopt technology to further their business and most times, only need enablers to accelerate this. 

“Through the Visa Acceptance Fast Track Programme, we are excited to partner with WEBXPAY and play a role in helping thousands of small businesses across Sri Lanka go digital. With Visa’s solutions and best practices and WEBXPAY’s superior payment gateway solutions, small businesses can now accept contactless payments and enable tap-to-phone for merchants quicker and in a secure manner, in their path to recovery,” said Colombage.

Meanwhile, Omar Sahib, WEBXPAY’s founder, commented that they appreciate the support extended by Visa to help expand the fintech’s products and social goals in reaching out to the SMBs in Sri Lanka.

“Through this partnership, we are further extending our ability to offer fast, convenient, and frictionless payments processing in the hope that we contribute towards the greater expansion of the local digital payments ecosystem, and in turn play a transformative role in the growth of the digital economy of Sri Lanka,” said Sahib.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Agoda partners with Visa to offer interest-free credit card instalments for travellers in SEA

Singapore Global travel platform Agoda has announced its partnership with Visa, to offer interest-free credit card instalments across its booking platform. To enjoy this benefit, Visa cardholders will simply need to enter their credit card details at the point of checkout. An instalment option will appear for eligible cardholders. Following this, travellers can select their preferred instalment period via Agoda’s mobile app and website, with no additional charges or fees.

Agoda will be the first global Online Travel Agency (OTA) to offer this payment option with Visa in the Asia Pacific region. These instalments can now be exclusively enjoyed by HSBC Bank Malaysia credit cardholders.

Thi-Mai-Linh Bui, CFOat Agoda, said that as the world transitions from a pandemic to an endemic state, there is great demand for digital-first experiences to accommodate for changing consumer behaviours and purchasing patterns. 

“At Agoda, we are always looking for innovative ways to help people gain more accessibility – using technology to simplify the search, booking and payment processes. We are happy to be working with a global leader like Visa to empower travellers who might have previously found it inconvenient to pay for their booking in one lump sum, to spread their purchases over multiple payments – allowing for greater flexibility and peace of mind.”, said Bui.

In the coming years, Visa and Agoda will progressively roll out this offering regionwide to locations like Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines, each with respective issuing banks.

Conor Lynch, head of consumer solutions of Asia Pacific at Visa, commented, “The buy now, pay later trend is here to stay, so add instalments to the list of consumer expectations for speed, safety and convenience, even when they’re booking their holidays.”

“We’re excited for Agoda to join the growing list of businesses in Asia Pacific giving their customers the ability to pay in instalments. It’s particularly great to see instalment payments taking off in the travel industry at the same time people are getting their ‘revenge travel’ plans underway,” Lynch added.

SME Featured Southeast Asia

Airwallex launches virtual B2B Visa debit card in Singapore

Singapore – After officially entering the Singapore market in January, global fintech Airwallex continues to progressively roll out key offerings in its global payments suite with the launch of its new Airwallex Borderless Card and integrated expense management solution.

Available to all Airwallex customers in Singapore, the Airwallex Borderless Card is a virtual multi-currency Visa business debit card that enables businesses to easily make online card payments anywhere that Visa is accepted, from Singapore and to the rest of the world.

Singapore-based companies can now instantly generate and issue virtual multi-currency business debit cards to promptly pay third parties, such as vendors and other online merchants with Airwallex’s market-leading foreign exchange rates wherever Visa cards are accepted. 

In addition to the Borderless Card, Airwallex is also launching its Expenses solution in Singapore. Singapore businesses will be able to streamline their expense processes with a single integrated platform to manage spending, seamlessly upload receipts for approval, reconcile expenses, and gain real-time visibility over card transactions.

Airwallex and Visa first announced their global strategic partnership in February 2020, and have since introduced the Airwallex Borderless Card to businesses in Australia, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States. 

“We’ve seen many of our global customers benefit from our cards offering, including significant cost savings on USD Software as a Service (SaaS) card spend and international transfer fees. We are so pleased that we can now offer Singapore businesses all the same benefits, providing them with greater flexibility and control over their cross-border card payments,” said Arnold Chan, Airwallex’s head of growth for Singapore.

“Today’s virtual cards and expenses launch is another significant step towards a full rollout of our global payments offerings in Singapore. We strive to become an integral one-stop-shop for any Singapore business requiring support with business finances across the entire transaction lifecycle, and by doing so, empower them to manage and grow both their local and global operations exponentially,” added Chan.

Kunal Chatterjee, Visa’s country manager for Singapore & Brunei, said that with Singapore being a global hub for commerce and SMEs looking to transact with counterparties globally, it is crucial to empower them with convenient and seamless cross-border payment solutions. 

“At Visa, we remain committed to working with our partners and being at the forefront in providing innovative payment solutions, helping businesses streamline their payment processes and improving the efficiency of international payments,” said Chatterjee. 

Over the coming months, Airwallex plans on expanding its card functionality, including enabling physical cards for business owners and for their employees’ work expenses, and digital wallet integration. 

Airwallex was founded in Melbourne in 2015, and in just six years, the company has secured more than US$800m in funding and a valuation of US$5.5b. Last April in Hong Kong, the fintech launched an SME support initiative worth HK$2.5m, where they provided a series of exclusive offers to help businesses recover and reopen from the pandemic while managing costs.

Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

About 84% of Filipinos tried going cashless in 2021

Manila, Philippines – The move towards a cashless society in the Philippines is becoming more evident, with the latest study from Visa unveiling that around 84% of Filipinos have tried going cashless in favour of digital payments, while 60% of Filipinos say that they are carrying less cash nowadays.

According to the report, cashless payment usage in the country is increasing across a variety of payment options, where Filipinos’ have a preference to use mobile wallets (64%), card payments online (52%), card payments at physical merchants (44%), and QR payments (31%). This shows that the pandemic has also driven the uptake of cashless payment methods, especially mobile wallets and card payments online, with a large number of first-time users due to the pandemic.

Dan Wolbert, country manager for the Philippines and Guam at Visa, said, “While cash is still commonplace in the Philippines, the preference for cashless payments is clearly gaining momentum. Our study showed more Filipinos are confident to get by without cash and for longer periods of time – with more than half feeling confident to get by for a week or longer, as cashless payment options grow.”

Contactless payments, on the other hand, are seen as an emerging payment method in which consumers showed high interest. Eighty-three per cent of Filipinos are aware of contactless payments while 69% have made contactless payments in 2021, up from 66% in 2020.

Wolbert added, “Filipinos believe COVID-19 has accelerated the country’s transition to a cashless society by at least three years. Now, seven out of 10 consumers anticipate that the Philippines can become fully cashless within the next seven to 10 years.”

The report noted that in 2021, the pandemic continued to be the main driver of online shopping growth, especially digital purchases made via e-commerce apps. More consumers turned to online shopping and started using apps or websites to shop for the first time. Movement restriction orders in the past year also led to an increase in in-home spending that included home office products, groceries, personal care items, and content platform subscriptions.

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.”

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Alliance Bank, MCash partner to launch virtual credit card

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — Financial services company Alliance Bank Malaysia has launched the Alliance Bank Visa Platinum virtual credit card, a virtual credit card for individuals offered via consumer lifestyle apps. The project was launched in collaboration with fintech service provider MCash.

The current service offering of the virtual credit card includes enabling customers to make JomPAY and QR code payments and access cash advance services via the MCash mobile app without the need for a physical credit card.

Gan Pai Li, group chief consumer Banking Officer of Alliance Bank, said that in keeping true to their proposition of ‘Bank in Your Pocket’, the Alliance Bank Visa Platinum virtual credit card is the latest addition to the bank’s line-up of digital innovations to deliver fast, simple and responsive services and is ESG friendly.

Li added that they want customers to have access to cash advance services securely whenever they need it via their mobile phones anytime, anywhere. Li continued by saying they will soon enhance the features to allow transactions for e-commerce, streaming and subscription services to cater to their customer’s lifestyles.

The application for the Alliance Bank Visa Platinum virtual credit card is done via the MCash mobile app available on Google Play and Apple App Store. Customers will be required to upload a digital copy of supporting documents such as EPF statements or salary slips. In addition, upon successful application, customers accessing cash advance services will have the requested funds disbursed into any of their local savings accounts.

“We are pleased that MCash eWallet shares our vision of ‘Bank in Your Pocket’ and have agreed to work with us to provide our customers a seamless digital payment experience,” Li said.

Aaron Lee, chief executive officer of MCash eWallet, commented, “This fintech partnership empowers MCash as the first green-friendly Digital Wallet Operator in Malaysia to introduce a virtual credit card to Gen-Z customers. Apart from protecting our existing 500,000 users and 20,000 merchants in all digital payment facilities, the ease of accessing a digital credit facility will also inspire our current 1,500 MCash micro-entrepreneurs to expand their businesses through the adoption of this ESG-friendly service.”

Ng Kong Boon, country manager of Visa Malaysia, said, “We congratulate Alliance Bank for being among the leaders in the virtual credit card market in Malaysia. As the global leader in digital payments, Visa strives to provide innovative solutions that address the evolving payment needs of consumers and their shifting preferences and behaviours. When it comes to virtual cards, nearly seven in ten (69%) Malaysian consumers are interested to use virtual cards for their daily purchases and financial transactions. Our collaboration with Alliance Bank represents yet another important step in digitising the payments landscape and delivering fast, convenient, secure and innovative payments solutions to our customers in Malaysia.”

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.

SME Featured APAC

Visa unveils five APAC start-ups part of inaugural accelerator program in the region

Singapore – Global financial services company Visa has officially announced the five start-ups it has selected in the Asia Pacific region to be part of its first-ever s accelerator program in the region. They are Brankas, Curlec, DigitSecure, ModusBox and Open. 

It should be recalled that Visa had announced last December 2020 the start of the application process for the Visa Accelerator Program, which is designed for start-ups that have built a consumer base in their home country, and are ready to enter new geographical and consumer regions. 

Speaking about the announcement back then, Dan Wolbert, Visa country manager for the Philippines & Guam stated, “What’s most important to Visa is how we can support those solutions getting elevated to a stage where in a few months’ time, they could be pitched as a commercial deal to a leading bank, retailer or technology company in the region. A big differentiator for the Visa Accelerator Program is our concentration on a small number of startups that are truly ready to unlock that next level.”

Brankas is a fintech company that provides financial software and solutions, will leverage the open banking and open data environment to create new payment and data-led experiences. Meanwhile, Curlec, a subscription management platform and ModusBox, an open source platform for real-time payments, will develop new ways to pay and be paid digitally to help drive financial inclusion for more consumers and businesses

Open, a neo-banking platform for small businesses, and DigitSecure, an omnichannel payments acceptance platform, will find new ways to support small businesses in managing and streamlining their operations digitally as they adapt to changing technology demands.

“Hundreds of startups came forward with outstanding ideas for new and enhanced commerce experiences, but the five participants we’ve selected truly stood out. We’re excited to work with each of the startups in our first cohort to bring their concepts to life and expand their businesses into new markets across the region,” said Chris Clark, regional president for Asia Pacific at Visa.

Over the next four to six months, the startups will focus on creating defined commercial opportunities to collaborate on new payment solutions with Visa and its extensive network of bank and merchant partners. A key goal for the accelerator program is to support startups that have launched successful solutions in their home markets as they plan their next stage of growth.

Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Filipino shoppers trying e-commerce for the first time increase amid the pandemic: report

Manila, Philippines – Filipino consumer behavior during the pandemic has shifted to frequent use of e-commerce platforms and cashless payments systems, a new report from financial services Visa shows.

In the Philippine-centric report, Visa noted that 52% of Filipinos shopped online through apps and websites for the first time during the pandemic and 43% of them made their first online purchase using social media channels.

Online shopping activity behavior also rose within the period of past year, as the report showed close to 9 in 10 Filipinos have increased their online shopping activities on websites or apps, whilst 7 in 10 are shopping more on social media channels. 

More than half of the consumers are also more inclined to shop from large online marketplaces (53%) and home-based businesses (61%). These new shopping preferences might turn into habits that last beyond the pandemic.

As part of the growing behavior of online purchases, food deliveries also rose, as more than 9 in 10 Filipinos used home delivery in the Philippines and 67% of them increased their use of home delivery services during the pandemic. This can be attributed to the existing quarantine and lockdown restrictions being implemented by the government in the country.

“The pandemic has transformed the way Filipinos shop and pay. Based on the latest highlights from our annual study, we see adoption of new consumer behaviors including more Filipinos using digital commerce platforms and helping to accelerate the usage of digital payments in the country. We see double digit growth for e-commerce transactions for purchases on marketplaces and digital goods,” said Dan Wolbert, country manager for the Philippines and Guam at Visa.

Wolbert also noted that some of the initial purchases made by first-time online consumers include food and groceries, bill payments as well as pharmaceutical products.

Using physical cash as payment has dwindled by the offset of the pandemic, as best compared to pre-pandemic consumers averaged to 7 out of 10 payments made in cash, compared to mid-pandemic consumers who only averaged to 5 out of 10 payments made in cash.

Filipinos cited using more contactless payments (73%), perceiving cash as unsafe because of the potential spread of infection (54%) and more places adopting digital payments (50%) as the top reasons for carrying less cash. In addition, Filipinos see bill payments (81%), grocery shopping (71%), and overseas travel (68%) as the top categories where they would likely go completely cashless in future.

The study also showed that contactless payments had 66% increase in usage amongst current users due to the pandemic. In addition, 88% of Filipinos who had not used contactless payments stated interest in using this payment method in the future. Top benefits perceived by Filipinos for usage of contactless cards include not having to carry cash with them (88%), feeling safe from infection (75%) and being an innovative payment method (68%).

“We believe that contactless payments will continue to grow as Filipinos appreciate the benefits of contactless payments, including perceiving this payment method to be more hygienic due to the absence of physical interaction at point-of-sale. Even though we’ve made progress in digital payments adoption, there remains huge opportunities for us to encourage more Filipinos to embrace digital payments as we look to expand digital payments acceptance across the country,” Dan added.

The study was conducted on 1,014 Filipinos aged 18-65 years of age across key cities in Manila, and in several provinces.