ONLINE and mobile classifieds firm OLX Philippines sees a bright future for online buying in the Philippines, following the government’s initiative to rollout public WiFi spots across the country.
“It’s a clear win together (initiative),” said OLX Philippines general manager Giancarlo Bonsel yesterday, noting that improvements in infrastructure connectivity will boost online businesses such as OLX, which have become the launching pad for most Filipinos who want to get into entrepreneurship.
Last year, the Aquino government embarked on a free WiFi project in public places across the country. Wireless Internet access points are being installed in public places such as town plazas, parks, government offices, health units and transport terminals, including train stations, seaports and airports.
World Bank studies have shown that every 10 percent increase in broadband Internet penetration translates to 1.38 percent increase in a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth.
“(The rollout of public WiFi) would benefit the whole community...for everyone to become better and informed consumers,” said Bonsel, at the sidelines of the OLX Philippines’ launching of Win Together, a new campaign that deepens the value of trading and creating communities engaging in winning exchanges.
The free public WiFi project, according to then Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Office of the Department of Science and Technology, will include class one and two municipalities in its rollout to better reach the class three to six municipalities that were the original target beneficiaries of the project.
The total number of beneficiary municipalities now stands at 1,435.
The slow-paced Internet connectivity remains a major hurdle among Filipinos in maximizing online businesses despite the huge shift of consumers using feature phones to Internet-capable mobile gadgets.
President Rodrigo Duterte has already warned telcos to improve their Internet services or face foreign competition. Telco players Globe Telecom and PLDT have positively reacted to the challenge, saying they have constantly earmarked huge investments annually to better the Internet connectivity of the country.
Having a network in over 45 countries with over 300 million monthly active users, OLX has steadily grown over the last 10 years, Bonsel said. In the Philippines, the online trading platform receives over 40,000 new listings placed every day.
Bonsel said that with the extensive campaign in the Philippines, they hope to grow the listings to at least 50 percent annually. His confidence stems from the growing number of Filipinos who are engaged in online businesses and the continued rise in demand of consumers looking for goods and services to buy online.
The Win Together campaign, according to OLX chief marketing officer Cris Concepcion, brings buying and selling beyond the practical function.
“Within our large community are smaller communities of like-minded individuals who share passions. It is in our best interest to help these tribes grow their own community base, as well as encourage entrepreneurship and healthy exchanges with more people. Collectively, community efforts contribute to a greater goal of promoting sustainability, thereby enabling all stakeholders to win together,” said Concepcion.
OLX connects local people to buy or sell brand new and pre-loved items and services by posting these online. Using OLX’s online marketplace, consumers find a wide range of products, including furniture, musical instruments, sporting goods, kids and baby items, motorcycles, cameras, mobile phones and property.
Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) announced that the final draft of the Philippine E-Commerce Roadmap 2016-2020 is due for release two months from now.
Virgilio Fulgencio, executive director of DTI’s Competitiveness Bureau, said the agency is soliciting feedback from all stakeholders as they finalize the e-commerce masterplan.
As envisioned in the road map, e-commerce in the country is to be developed and supported to become a major economic growth driver and contribute 25 percent of the country’s gross domestic product by 2020.
The roadmap identified six areas of focused development intended to overcome the challenges in the digital technology in the country, including slow Internet speed, high cost of connection, trust and security issues with online shopping, e-payment constraints, and consumer preferences for traditional mall shopping.