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Philippines FinTech Festival 2020 : 5 Ways Tech Strengthened Connections and Digital Communities amidst COVID-19

Drishti Bhagat   May 04, 2020 12:00 4 Min Read

5 ways tech strengthened connections and digital communities amidst COVID-19 

The Philippines has always been one of the top investment destinations in the world and is on track to be the next hotbed of innovation in the ASEAN. With COVID-19 impacting local industries and communities, teching up as a nation has become a necessity to ensure resiliency and competitiveness in the global marketplace. Aside from businesses, communities and organizations should also rethink how we live in the current situation. We need to embrace digital and build our future around it because even before this pandemic ends, we need to continue moving forward in this new normal.   With Filipinos being savvy with how they navigate technology and social media, we have identified how digital communities are utilizing technology and fintech are creatively utilized to strengthen connections, and be empowered amidst the ongoing global crisis: 

1. Proactiveness for credible information. Fake news has become rampant in recent years most especially on social media. The current health situation has pushed us to become more stringent and creative in choosing news we share. From the latest updates from key government agencies to news reports from the media, more have become selfaware and better informed in rallying for more reliable information to be shared. Factchecking and educating families and friends have also improved the information being consumed, which is a true sign of progress. 

Fact Check Philippines, a non-profit organization dedicated to combating fake news, has even become more aggressive in scouring different social media platforms to track down posts that spread misinformation. They place these false information side by side with the original source material to help the public decipher what is real and not. 

Media organizations like ABS-CBN, GMA, and BusinessMirror have also released articles to help netizens be better equipped in spotting fake news. Even President Rodrigo Roa Duterte himself has been given powers to prosecute purveyors of false information under the Bayanihan Heal As One Law. 

2. Empowered digital tribes. The spirit of the Filipino Bayanihan (compassion and camaraderie) to assist vulnerable communities and front-liners is very much alive even as we are ordered to stay at home. Filipinos have banded together through online communities be it groups, pages, or chats to help and uplift our countrymen from all over the digital space. 

Netizens have become creative in boosting morale of those in quarantine as well as the frontliners, sending them words of encouragement. Schools and private organizations, even local celebrities and the media have spearheaded donations drives and assistance programs to continuously help local government units, hospitals, and the marginalized sector of society. 

NGOs and foundations have also accelerated their online donation drives for COVID-19 relief operations. Caritas Manila, through UnionBank’s UShare platform is gathering funds which will go to their Caritas Damayan – LIGTAS COVID 19 program that will distribute food packs and protective kits to vulnerable families in Manila amidst the quarantine. 

3. Life goes digital. With the implementation of community quarantines to help #FlattenTheCurve, technology has enabled us to continue doing daily tasks without the risk of going out. With fintech, coping has eased to a certain degree because of digital services that are readily available. From digital banking to food and grocery delivery services, everyone is truly adopting a major lifestyle shift to keep themselves safe, but still productive. 

Both Gcash and PayMaya have been actively advocating for digital payments and transactions to avoid going out and risk being infected by the virus. International wireless payment service Paypal has also made financial assistance for personal payments, remittances, and donations accessible to anyone from across the globe and has waived fees and deferred payments with over 24 million merchants consisting of MSMEs affected by COVID-19.  

UnionBank deployed the country’s first 5G-enabled mobile banking kiosk for those who are not as adept to mobile banking. With online payments available through DragonPay, Gcash and PayMaya, e-commerce sites MetroMart, Pushkart, and LazMart and drug stores Mercury Drug, Rose Pharmacy, and MedGrocer have been able to help Filipinos do their grocery shopping and medicine run in just a few taps on their phone. 

As the need for these innovations grows, the whole fintech and tech startup communities now have an opportunity to churn out ideas and develop more applications and services that may serve bigger and better causes even after this pandemic. 

4. Business continuity through tech. Business continuity and sustainability are now some of the biggest issues being faced by enterprises across the globe. Businesses should look into accelerating their digital transformation and explore how to improve their operations through technology.  

Businesses have now adopted a virtual office to ensure employees are safe while providing services even at home. Using available online applications such as Zoom, Google Hangouts Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Skype, digital meetings, logistics coordination, even package forwarding is now just a few clicks away. Tracking of work progress is now easier because we have Slack, Trello, and Asana. Cloud technology has also enabled many companies to provide full service because employees can easily access the files and assets they need, and all that is required is a stable internet connection. 

Remote work has become an ace for continued service delivery today and maybe in the future. At the rate of technological shift happening now, this pandemic will certainly usher in a new era of ways of working. 

Our event partner for the Philippine Fintech Festival, TeamAsia, has actually successfully transitioned their operations virtually and even came up with business-as-usual tips for those of you who want to try out this kind of setting for business continuity and sustainability. 

5. Becoming a true digital native. Being agile is at the heart of digital transformation, and with the current situation has increased the rate of its urgency. Digital services are on the rise as consumers find ways to cope. From streaming platforms to hosting of webinars for skills development, people have now transformed into digital natives as they surf through the limitless possibilities that technology presents. 

Streaming platforms iWant, HOOQ, and iflix have also rallied for the support for Filipino movies and series by making them available online during the lockdown. Local filmmakers have also made their full-length films available on YouTube as their contribution to the digital transition. Filipino artists and musicians also host digital concerts to help raise funds for the marginalized sector and the frontliners. 

Also available to Filipino netizens are learning opportunities such as: the Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines’ (IMMAP) digital marketing webinars, author Ricky Lee with his online writing workshops, and KonsultaMD with Dr. Gia Siason of Livestrong Foundation and Youth for Mental Health Coalition on a series of healthrelated webinars

We at the Fintech Philippines Association (FPh) and the Distributed Ledger Technology Association of the Philippines (DLTAP) urge businesses and industries to embrace digital fully for resiliency and sustainability. This integration will bring them closer to the fintech industry, especially in financial management and security. With this, we will continue to take the lead in empowering MSMEs through different fintech channels and services so together we can move forward and navigate in this new normal. Digital has become the norm and we must adapt accordingly to survive. We must come together in seizing this opportunity to move Philippine businesses, industries, and consumers forward as this is now our new normal. Visit the Philippine Fintech Festival website (https://philippinefintechfestival.com/) to know more how you can accelerate your company’s digital transformation.  

 


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