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With enough liquidity, small merchants may serve as cash points in rural parts of Southeast Asia.

With only 23% ATM penetration rate (compared to global average of 70%), reports the World Bank, millions of underbanked individuals in the Philippines do not have easy access to bank branches and ATMs. But a partnership between FEXCO and ENCASH aims to tackle the low ATM penetration rate by turning mom and pop shops into ATM outlets, reported Tech Wire Asia. Imagine, suddenly, a local fruit-stand seller can be a cash point.

The Philippines has only 23.68 ATMs per 100,000 people. With an ATM penetration rate of 23%, far lower than global average of 70%.

In what is being called the “EasyDebit” solution, the plug-and-play tool allows cardholders to withdraw funds from any merchant with the device and downloadable app, which plugs into smartphones and gives cardholders cashback without having to locate an ATM. Cardholders simply swipe their cards, key in their PIN and “withdraw.” Money in the cardholder’s bank is transferred to the merchant’s account, who then gives the cash equivalent to the user.

The solution is meant to be affordable enough for small merchants through a rent-to-own scheme, which doesn’t require minimum balances or transaction amounts. And remittances from Filipino workers abroad to families in the countryside or even urban-to-rural remittances are sparking higher demand for easy cash access.

The company brings down the cost of joining a major ATM network by acting as these banks’ intermediary. FEXCO and ENCASH plan to introduce ‘EasyDebit’ in Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam after its initial run in the Philippines.

A version of this appeared in Tech Wire Asia on August 15. Read the full version here.

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