by Xinhua Writers He Fei, Yuan Mengchen
MANILA/BEIJING, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- Strolling at the fancy Glorietta Mall in Manila, one can hardly miss the ubiquitous bar-code stickers put up on counters and codes shown on digital screen, or store staffers walking around in T-shirts with printed codes and a caption reading "scan me!"
The bunch of Philippine stores at the mall, situated in the city of Makati in southern Metropolitan Manila, are the first to have embraced a digital way for customers to pay besides cash and cards -- via smartphones.
Since the mobile payment system was introduced here roughly two weeks ago, there have been curious customers every day trying the new technology. They simply use the GCash payment app to scan the QR code, a matrix of bar codes containing scannable information, and after several clicks by finger, the transaction is finished within seconds.
GCash, a Philippine mobile wallet service provider for conducting payment and money transfer, resembles China's Alipay established by e-commerce titan Alibaba Group, who plays a leading role in China's marveling digital revolution which has facilitated hundreds of millions of peoples' lives in and out of China.
Now, with the help of China's financial and technological output into the Southeast Asian island country's developing mobile Internet industry, mobile payment becomes a new trend in urban Philippines.
Zack's Burgers sits on the third floor of the mall. Its manager, Juliane Montilla, said mobile payment saved them from troubles of collecting bills and fumbling through changes.
"I know GCash got the technology from Alipay," said Montilla, "and I believe in the future there will be more and more Filipinos who scan to pay."
In a cinema complex on a floor above the burger restaurant, there are dozens of people buying tickets through mobile payment everyday, enjoying the convenience and coupons provided on the platform, ticket sales manager Arnie Escalante said.
It all started in February, when Alipay's parent company Ant Financial partnered with local Philippines conglomerate Ayala Group to invest in Mynt, a joint venture innovating company and operator of GCash.
Alongside with the investment, Ant Financial also sent a technical staff to help build a localized service platform, exporting cutting-edge technologies in digital finance and payment services.
GCash, having 5 million users at present, plans to double the number to 10 million in a year, said Albert Tinio, chief executive officer of GCash.
"Cooperating (with) China or learning from China is a big thing," said Tinio, adding that China's experience helped build a fast track of their own journey.
He elaborated that China's financial technology has been doing mobile payment for several years, and is leading the world in terms of technology, operation and process, among others.
At the launching ceremony of GCash's mobile payment system on Oct. 25, Eric Jing, chief executive of Ant Financial, said the Chinese company's goal is to bring cost-effective, efficient and secure digital financial experiences to the local market.
"Beginning from Ayala Malls, we look forward to seeing even higher e-payment adoption so more Filipinos can enjoy the benefits of inclusive digital finance," he said.
Ayala Group, Ant Financial's investment partner on Mynt, firstly adopted the system in its shopping malls, with Glorietta Mall being one of them.
Ernest Cu, president and chief executive of Globe Telecom, owner of Mynt and Philippine telecommunications services provider, said only 5 percent of Filipinos have credit cards while the rest use cash for payment.
"We are introducing a third method of payment," Cu said.
"Now that more people are using data on their smartphones, the time is ripe to enable digital payments using the smartphone and let this go mainstream," he added.
Mobile payment, known as one of the four great new innovations in China in modern times, is also a major booster for the country's cooperation with the world on the innovation front.
Alipay, serving more than half a billion registered users, has been venturing out to global market and bringing the benefits of its advanced technology and business mode to the world, especially to Asia and Southeast Asia.
In 2015, Ant Financial invested in India's digital wallet PayTM. By sharing its experience and technology, it helped expand PayTM's users from 30 million that year to 220 million in 2017, making it the third largest mobile wallet in the world, exceeding Paypal.
Similar partnerships were also established with Ascend Money in Thailand, Emtek in Indonesia, and Kakao in South Korea.