Before 2020, Decembers meant crisp peso bills with that distinct fresh from the bank scent. All that changed at warp speed because of COVID-19. Money is now mostly invisible yet just as important, not to mention hard to come by.
Wallets are turning digital notwithstanding growing pains that got people searching for the latest cash in fees or the RFID stickering station with the shortest queues. In this look ahead to 2021 and beyond, we look at the many forms of money in 2020 and what it says about the future.
GCash: Digital at hyper speed
It's a "non-contact revolution" said Martha Sazon, President and CEO of Mynt that operates GCash. During the quarantine, Sazon said GCash overtook Netflix in terms of monthly users in the Philippines and is fourth over-all, behind Lazada, Shopee and Spotify.
Average monthly users grew 3.5 times and 11,000 merchants were added to 75,000-strong pre-quarantine network, Sazon said. In a reflection of the new home seller economy, GCash now has 500,000 social media sellers, she told the World Fintech Festival that was streamed from Manila.
"People suddenly need it urgently, resulting in massive registrations," Sazon said. "The pandemic has affected all of us and changed consumer behavior significantly."
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AutoSweep and Easytrip: Growing pains are real
In the weeks leading to Dec. 1, Facebook forums were buzzing: where to get an RFID sticker. It was a deadline that was pushed back before and by the time it lapsed, the system wasn't ready.
Up to now, motorists are still securing their RFID stickers, Easytrip for those run by Metro Pacific and AutoSweep for San Miguel. The lines got so long at NLEX that for a time, the Valenzuela City government suspended its operator.
President Rodrigo Duterte addressed the RFID issue in his Dec. 16 address to the nation: "I understand this burst of anger, which is justified para matauhan kayo."
The Senate also investigated the matter. Sen. Grace Poe, who chairs the public services committee, said the system was simply unprepared. "Bakit hahayaan na magbakbakan ang operator at local government at magdusa ang taumbayan?"
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Manny Pacquiao's Pac Pay: It's global and mainstream
When Sen. Manny Pacquiao announced his payment platform Pac Pay, Facebook users swapped memes on what it should be called instead. The runaway winner: Manny Heist.
Like the Netflix series Money Heist (minus the crime, of course), money in the future will move easier between borders. That's the vision of Pac Pay, according to Pacquiao, targeting OFWs.
"Amid this pandemic, we have seen an incredible opportunity to adopt digital technology, including global digital payments. We entered the regional market with the intention of helping our businessmen grow. This will be beneficial to MSMEs and Pinoy customers," Pacquiao said during the recent World Fintech Forum.
Globe Telecom President Ernest Cu, who was at the same forum, said: "The Philippines is poised to become the next technology hub in Asia... During and beyond the pandemic, technology is not just a tool, it can become an advocacy for nation-building."
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Lyka: More likes, more chances of winning
Noticed the growing number of celebrities on your Instagram and TikTok feeds asking for a follow on Lyka? Some of them even flex their most recent date or iPhone 12 purchase bought with Lyka Gems.
Lyka is a social network for sharing photos and videos and the more users interact, the more Gems they earn. Gems can be used as payment for goods and services in establishments that accept them.
An Instagram celebrity on Lyka told reportr that it's legit: "Bawat post mo, kikita ka so dapat post ka nang post."
Trying to wrap your head around it. Here's a rough approximation. Remember the Black Mirror episode "Nosedive"? Bryce Dallas Howard's character had to make sure she's popular on social media to make sure that things go according to plan.
In the future, your social media score could be just as important, if not more, than your credit score.