Telcos turn to Makati to beta test all-in-one digital card, app

MANILA, Philippines – Makati City is the first local government in the country to be beta tested by PLDT Incorporated and Globe Telecom Incorporated for an all-in-one digital citizen card and application, providing residents easy access to financial services, payments, and e-commerce, among others.

PLDT on Thursday, June 1, launched its Makatizen application, which will feature advisories and announcements about the city's programs and events, an option to book a ride on Makati's point-to-point shuttle service, an in-app online marketplace, and information on starting a business in the city.

It was announced after Globe's Makatizen Card, which allows the city's estimated 500,000 residents to access city government services, pay fees and taxes, as well as receive cash allowances, stipends, and other monetary benefits. 

"My impression is Globe's is a business card while ours is an application. But eventually, they will probably go on the application as well, while we go on the card. What will happen is we will converge," PLDT chairman Manuel Pangilinan said on the sidelines of an event in Makati City.

The app is a product of the collaboration between public-private partnership proponents Neo-Converge ICT Solutions Incorporated and Voyager Innovations Incorporated, a unit of PLDT.

Pangilinan said the telco chose Makati as a test case because of its reach as a premier financial center.

"This is the country's business and trade hub. The reason we tested it here is because Makati has the deepest market from a commercial perspective," he explained.

For the PLDT chief, Makati "is just the start" of expanding cities' access to the digital economy.

"Yes. [There are] several. Hopefully within the year. No specific order but this is a useful start because Makati is usually a model area," Pangilinan replied when asked if PLDT is in talks with other local government units.

Emerging markets

PLDT's Voyager also said it aims to bring these digital innovation products to other emerging markets in Southeast Asia.

"On the execution, we want to make the Philippines our proof of concept and a testbed for massive scale. But we have to establish our foothold in other markets already while we are executing plans in the Philippines," Voyager president and chief executive officer Orlando Vea told reporters.

Vea said Voyager Innovations might test the waters in two Southeast Asian countries by the end of the year.

"In emerging markets, enterprises, consumers, and institutions are all transforming to digital. We all want to be digital but unfortunately the infrastructure here is not yet present so enterprises, governments, and other institutions are looking for solutions," Vea said.

Voyager Innovations focuses primarily on delivering platforms and services involving financial technology, digital commerce, rich mobile marketing, digital payments, and next-generation communications. Its products include digital payment platform PayMaya and e-commerce platform Takatack. – Rappler.com