June 19, 2018, 8:00 pm
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Full DX in fintech is key to comprehensive financial inclusion

BY Lourdes C. Escolano

DIGITAL transformation has yet to affect the over 80 percent of Filipinos are unbanked or have not been touched by banking or financial services. 

In this day and age of the smartphone and mobile devices, where Internet penetration totals 63 percent out of 106 million Filipinos and where 84 percent of households own a cellphone, it is easy to realize that the use of technology should correct the problem of lack of financial inclusion.

But that is easier said than done.

The problem, apparently was that most digital solutions rely entirely on upward technology—apps and so on that worked on modern platforms. The Philippine cellphone scene is dominated by either old, lower technology phones that cannot catch up with current requirements in terms of processing speed or memory, for instance. 

Thus the ability to design and deploy apps that are downward compatible and works for a myriad of devices, operating sytems and platforms is crucial. This is where Singaporean digital solutions provider Tagit comes in.

“We started off selling barcode technology for marketing and advertising purposes,” Sajjad Akthar, Chairman of Tagit Pte Ltd. said explaining that the name is actually an acronym for Targeted Advertising Graphical Interface Technology. “Now we’ve completely reengineered ourselves and became quite involved in coming up with digital solutions that are secure, scalable and innovative,” Akthar adds.

As banks—previously cautious of digitalization, due primarily to security, technology and cost—are now quickly embracing digital transformation and integrating the newest technology trends with their services, Tagit is well poised as a end-to-end solutions provider that will enable not only local banks but also government and private enterprises to rapidly build secure, scalable and innovative digital applications.

“We started in the Philippines in the Philippine National Bank in 2015 and our latest solution was for EON to build Unionbank’s “Selfie” Identification app—which is a first of its kind anywhere in the world. These days for banks to enjoy an edge they must quickly go digital or they will be left behind,” Sandeep Bagaria, Chief Executive Officer of Tagit Philippines, Inc. explained.

Today Tagit adds China Bank and UnionBank of the Philippines-EON in their roster.

“We build award winning apps with a focus on innovation and engaging user experience. With the total number of mobile subscriptions at approximately 126 percent of the total population, Philippines is easily the fastest growing market for digital financial solutions,” Bagaria emphasizes.

Having a very strong background in the banking sector has made the company the new go-to for most financial institutions that need a source of solutions for back end as a well as mobile touch points, in particular, omni-channel digital solutions that can run from the most current devices to even those with older technology.

“We have successfully created apps for old Nokias for example that work exclusively on SMS,” Bagaria explains as he also points to the inertia that the banking community has taken towards financial inclusion.

“This presents a very big potential for banks to engage the Filipino digital millennial. I just find this country very exciting and when I think of digital an innovation, I can’t think of better place than Philippines, where I can be really successful,” Sandeep opined.

Opening its Regional Delivery Hub at Solaris One Building in Makati, Manila, is proof of the company’s commitment to the Philippines. The company realizes the massive potential of the local market in terms of growth in digital transformation in the banking sector based on the launch of the Philippine National Strategy for Financial Inclusion. 

“Digital innovations remain to be one of the priority agenda items of BSP in line with our vision for a responsive, efficient and inclusive financial system. This Tagit milestone further opens up new doors of opportunities for the Philippine Financial services industry to scale up their digital footprints through mobile banking technologies,” Vicente T. De Villa III, Senior Director of Supervisory Data Center, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said.

The initiatives taken by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to transform the local market into an advanced digital economy is targeting 20 percent increase in Philippine financial transactions to be digital by 2020. The BSP hopes to fulfill its this goal through increased smartphone penetration and the adoption of mobile money accounts.

“Tagit is betting on smart Filipino talent to build out its technical team that will enable Tagit to respond faster to customer needs, and will play key role in our regional strategy to provide innovative digital solutions to our customers,” Akthar said.

“It is a pleasure to have Tagit invest in the country as Singapore being one of the top investors of the Philippines as well as a fellow ASEAN member…With the Philippines’ grasp of really rapid growth that needs a massive infrastructure boost in physical, digital, and connectivity. We are finally seeing this coming at the speed of construction rambling up in this administration,” Kok Li Peng, Singaporean Ambassador to the Philippines said I her speech.

Republic Act 8792 or the E-Commerce Law of 2000 prescribes all government agencies to enable electronic filing, issue electronic approvals, accept electronic payments and issue guidelines on e-commerce implementation. Tagit plans to work on multiple Smart Nation initiatives, bringing best-in class practices to this high-growth segment.

This is why Tagit also plans to extend it services to the Philippine Government, which has embraced digital transformation as of means of offering valuable and meaningful government services. In February 2018, the House ICT Committee created a Technical Working Group (TWG) to fine-tune House Bill 262 seeking to create an e-Government structure in the Public Sector. 

Tagit is a leader in the 2015 Forrester Wave: Mobile Banking Solutions report and was ranked has been cited for its “rich support of mobile touch points, great support for integration and security and well-articulated product strategies and particularly planned enhancements. Last year, it was again recognized among the leading global solutions in the 2017 Forrester Wave: Digital Banking Engagement Platforms.
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