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The J Spotter

Personal insights from the J Spot author J. Angelo Racoma
( this site has moved to http://jangelo.racoma.net )

The J Spotter » BusinessWeek: Filipinos Are Getting The Message

BusinessWeek: Filipinos Are Getting The Message

This Business Week Online article captures the essence of Filipino ingenuity, especially that of local telcos, in providing fund-transfer services over-the air. In a country where the mobile phone penetration rate is about 24%, and foreseen to grow to about 45% to 50% by 2005, and whose primary export is its labor force, the telcos have hit it right on the mark with offering such value-added services. The ordinary Filipino seems to have jumped over e-commerce, and went straight to m-commerce (noting that PC-penetration rate is only about less than 1%).

More about SMART Money / Smart Padala
More about Globe G-Cash

An excerpt:

Once a month, 24-year-old Jane Manarang drops by the McDonald's (MCD ) in her busy Manila neighborhood. But she's not there for a burger and fries. Instead, she is stopping by to cash an electronic check. Her husband, a teller at Forex International in Hong Kong, sends a portion of his salary to Manarang using a new mobile-phone-based cash remittance service called Smart Padala. His Hong Kong remittance company sends a text message to Jane's phone, crediting the money to her account. Then she transfers the credit to McDonald's cell-phone account through her phone, and Mickey D gives her the money, taking a percentage of the amount cashed as a fee. It's a great deal for Manarang and her husband, Glenn, because it costs much less than the $5 Glenn would pay for a wire transfer. For amounts above $180, Manarang gets a free Big Mac meal to boot. 'It's so fast,' marvels Manarang. 'I receive a text message, and I can quickly get cash.'

That kind of innovative service has made the Philippines the king of text messaging worldwide. Filipinos send an average of 200 million messages daily, or 2.4 per capita. In fact, many Filipinos ignore the voice capabilities of their phones and use their handsets almost exclusively for texting. Nearly 38% of sales in the Philippine cellular market come from text, compared with 1% to 2% in the U.S.

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