E-Wallets: Bridging the Digital Divide for Older Generations in the Philippines

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PHILIPPINES— In recent years, electronic wallets, also known as e-wallets, have gained immense popularity as a convenient and secure way to make digital payments. Nearly 9 million e-wallet accounts were registered in the Philippines in 2017. However, by 2020, the utilization of mobile wallets had tripled. According to Statista, this number is expected to increase to 75.5 million by 2025. In 2020, Filipinos transferred more than P2.39 trillion using e-wallets, which was a 149 percent increase from 2017.

Initially, these platforms were mainly popular among younger generations who grew up with technology. However, as e-wallets have become more prevalent, they are now also bringing older generations into the digital financial world.

Despite the fact that he is 74 years old and finds it difficult to queue and travel, Wilfrido T. Gonzales, a retired individual, has no desire to utilize an electronic wallet (e-wallet) and is firmly opposed to it.

On the other hand, E-wallets have had a significant impact on the life of Marite D. Medez, a 60-year-old interior designer. “I didn’t like the idea of using an e-wallet at first. And then one day, I had about 10 customers paying through e-wallets and only my staff had an account at the time. Until I had the app myself, I didn’t need to rely on anything else like going to the bank or cashing cheques,” she stated in an interview.

The untapped potential of senior citizens in the Philippines to contribute to the digitization of financial services is often overlooked. Nonetheless, there are certain obstacles in e-wallet applications that this group could potentially overcome, thus advancing the central bank’s objective of achieving digital financial inclusion.

According to the 2021 Financial Inclusion Survey (FIS), there are approximately 5.4 million senior citizens in the country. Senior citizens comprise the smallest percentage of e-money users, with only 11% of them holding an e-money account. The group with the second-lowest e-money usage is the 50 to 59-year-old age range, accounting for 21% of e-money users.

The central bank is working towards creating a more expansive digital payments ecosystem and therefore endorses all efforts to enhance digital infrastructure. This is for more easy use and transaction towards the elderly.

In addition, Gcash, one of the well-known and largest digital banking in the country, continuously strives to make ongoing enhancements while ensuring that it remains welcoming and accommodating to its entire user base of 72 million people.

GCash makes sure that new users, especially elder people, are comfortable with the app’s interface by providing a step-by-step onboarding process that explains the app’s features. They also offer video tutorials on their website to help those who are unfamiliar with the app to improve their digital literacy and make it easier to use.

E-wallets make it easier for older generations to embrace digital payments and manage their finances online. With their ease of use, secure transactions, access to digital fees, incentives and discounts, and integration with other services, e-wallets are bringing older generations into the digital financial world. As more and more services move online, e-wallets provide a convenient and accessible way for users of all ages to manage their finances in the digital age. Having an older user-friendly interface of online payment provides more sense of inclusivity towards them.

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