The Philippines is known for a lot of things. There’s the much-lauded level of hospitality. There’s also the distinct Filipino sense of humor, even in the face of sheer adversity. It is, after all, more fun in the Philippines, if the PR campaign is to be believed.
What the Philippines isn’t known for, at least not until recently, is the use of technology to introduce a measure of convenience in people’s lives. The introduction of e-payments have made it easy for everyone to pay their utilities, credit card bills and others. E-payments have also made it possible for citizens to pay their government bills more easily.
Every Filipino dreads the necessary trip to any government office. The lines are long and the process is usually slow. A day in a government office is often a sure test of one’s patience, as any Filipino can attest to. The introduction of the e-payment in this particular aspect of our lives makes it a lot less inconvenient.
One recent major development in the use of e-payment in the government sector is spearheaded by Smart Hub Inc., a company under Smart Communications Inc., one of the top Internet and mobile communications providers in the Philippines. The recently enacted Kasambahay Law, which requires people who employ informal domestic service workers to provide these workers with government benefits like the Social Security System (SSS), the Pag-Ibig Fund (the country’s Home Development Mutual Fund), and Philippine Health Insurance corp. (Philhealth).
Given the number of actual employers who are in a sudden need to pay for these benefits, the necessity of a fast and convenient way to make these payments arose. Along came the e-payment method facilitated by Smart that addressed that necessity for its 69 million subscribers.
This is a very promising development for Filipino citizens. One has to understand that even though the country is fully capable of making e-payment and mobile money payment systems possible, the Philippines has yet to fully embrace the change. The success of the recent e-payment development due to the Kasambahay Law shows that now, Filipinos are truly ready to embrace the electronic method of paying for government transactions.
If there is a downside to this situation, it’s the fact that the method is offered by Smart communications. Subscribers of the nation’s rival, Globe Telecommunications, are not able to avail of this opportunity. Of course, this particular downside can easily be perceived as a temporary situation, given the competitive nature of the telecommunications industry and the technological capabilities the nation seems to now have.
An optimistic point of view of this situation is that, technologically at least, the future of the Philippines looks bright. E-payments for credit cards and other bills was the beginning. Now, government payments can be made electronically. Day by day, we are inching towards a completely electronic world where soon, the days of going to government offices to spend a large chunk of your day will be a thing of the past.