PLAYERS in the e-commerce and financial technology (fintech) community urged small and medium entrepreneurs to let go of the “can’t do attitude” when it comes to adopting e-commerce, and see how this new way of doing business can support their growth.
“Everything is out there. The only barrier is the perception. We need to stop the ‘can’t mentality,’” said Itamar Gero, founder and chief executive officer of Truelogic, during the Digibeez Summit press conference on Wednesday, March 20. TrueLogic Online Solutions Inc. is a search engine optimization company for startups and enterprise businesses based in Manila.
Gero noted that the big challenge for small and medium businesses to fully embrace e-commerce is their openness to use the digital tools that will aid in their growth.
He said many in the fintech community can help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) succeed online, but the real challenge is to get them to understand how e-commerce works.
“We need to change this traditional state of mind (when doing business),” he said. “We need to reach out to more people and tell them it’s not a hard thing to do.”
Robertson Chiang, founder and chief operating officer of Dragonpay Corp., reinforced Gero’s sentiments, saying the slow takeoff of e-commerce in the country is due to the traditional mindset of Filipinos.
“A lot of the SMEs are not really thinking big. Some are happy to be selling on the side to earn an extra buck because they have a day job. It’s not something that they are prepared to do that would make them stop doing their day job and go full-time on e-commerce,” said Chiang.
“The tools are there. It’s just getting people to go for it (that is the challenge), and the government can help by making it easier to do business,” he added.
Chiang said the passage of the Ease of Doing Business Law and the revision of the corporation code are steps in the right direction that could spur business activities in the country.
“The idea is really good. I don’t know what took them so long,” he said.
President Duterte also signed Republic Act 11232, which updates the 38-year-old Corporation Code to make the Philippines an attractive investment destination.
The law allows a single person to form a corporation, removes the requirement for minimum capitalization, permits the electronic filing of reportorial requirements, allows attendance in meetings via remote communication or in absentia, and provides protection to minority stockholders.
It also simplifies the name verification process and grants perpetual life as the default option for corporations.
Samuel Jeanblanc, market lead of Google Philippines, said the country has been showing progress in the e-commerce field as Filipinos devote more time online.
“The appetite for online business has gone high compared to two years ago. Filipinos are great internet users,” said Jeanblanc, adding that the latency has been covered by programs initiated by the community.
“The ecosystem has been built to help SMEs get onboard their digital journey. My tip for SMEs is to get a reliable and credible partner that can help in their journey, and also get a proper consultant,” he said.
Cebu, according Chiang, has become a center for e-commerce and fintech in central Philippines. He said not only are major e-commerce outfits profitable operating in the country, there is rapid growth for entrepreneurs going online along with the rapid and sustained growth of business process management.
He said urbanization problems like traffic compels locals, expats and tourists to drive e-commerce and fintech growth.
But compared to Manila, Cebu’s awareness of e-commerce is not that high, which is why they are mounting a summit for SMEs to get to know the tools available that they can use in their online business.
Digibeez or the digital business summit was organized by local fintech firm Dragonpay, a Philippine-based payment solution company that helps facilitate alternative payment schemes for online shoppers without bank accounts or credit cards.