E-Payments Continue to Drive the Philippine Economy Post-pandemic – OpenGov Asia

The government of the Philippines has made e-commerce and electronic payment methods a priority in efforts to boost both financial and digital inclusion throughout the country. In line with this, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) recently reaffirmed that they will continue to promote the digitalisation of financial products and services in the country even after the restrictions forced by the pandemic are lifted.
Last year, the central bank released the Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap (DPTR) for 2020-2023. Under the DPTR, the BSP aims to increase customer preference for digital payments by converting 50% of total retail payments to digital form and increasing the number of financially included Filipino adults to 70% by onboarding them to the formal financial system via payment or transaction accounts.
In an article, OpenGov Asia stated that fintech applications and technologies are constantly evolving, allowing more Filipinos to conduct financial transactions without the need for a bank account. Fintech products, such as e-wallets, allow users to transfer money digitally and build credit, making it easier for them to borrow funds in the future.
Moreover, the proposed framework for open banking by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) aims to benefit MSMEs by encouraging financial inclusion and making the deployment of innovative financial services faster and easier. With the right infrastructure, banks and fintech companies can create more cost-effective, personalised, and seamless solutions for MSMEs, facilitating distribution, data sharing, and payment enablement.
All these initiatives strive to assist BSP-supervised financial institutions’ digital transformation programmes, including fintech players, while also promoting sound risk technology and cyber risk management.
Earlier this year, the central bank and the country’s other financial regulators agreed to develop a unified monitoring and supervision scheme for the local fintech industry that does not stifle these firms’ innovative and creative ideas. To that end, a memorandum of understanding on the establishment of a cooperative oversight framework on fintech innovation was signed under the auspices of the multiagency Financial Sector Forum.
The BSP asserted that the roadmap intends to transform the country into a cash-lite society. During the pandemic, the use of digital payments reduced the need for mobility and helped to avoid health risks associated with face-to-face and over-the-counter financial transactions. The BSP stated that in the first seven months of 2021, the value of transactions made through its local E-wallets increased by more than 180%, and another by more than 80%.
Both Philippines’ leading E-wallets are automated clearing houses under the National Retail Payment System. One of the leading E-wallet platforms is a batch electronic fund transfer (EFT) that can be thought of as an electronic alternative to the paper-based check system, whereas the other leading E-wallet is a real-time, low-value EFT for transactions up to P50,000 that is useful for e-commerce.
With the rate of digitisation increasing in the Philippines, e-commerce merchants must capitalise on this shift in consumer attitudes by offering a variety of payment options along with appealing offers to attract the attention of a wide range of users. Offering multiple payment methods, including cash, and collaborating with local partners who have a thorough understanding of the Philippine market (not just retail and payments, but also logistics fulfilment and last-mile deliveries), could assist in transforming the Philippines into an e-commerce territory, opening more opportunities in the rest of Southeast Asia.
State-run carrier Viettel has successfully researched, tested, and established a 5G data transmission speed of more than 4.7Gb per second. This speed is 40 times higher than the 4G speed and more than two times the existing 5G speed, making Viettel one of the fastest 5G telecom networks in Asia.
According to a press release, the result confirms the outstanding capacity of the 5G ultra-short wave (mmWave) technology that Viettel is deploying in Vietnam. A 5G network with super high speeds is the foundation for building smart factories, agriculture, cities, healthcare, and education. To achieve a record data transmission speed, the research team of Viettel and a few other private players used the world’s most advanced E-UTRA New Radio Dual Connectivity (EN-DC) technology to increase speed and extend 5G coverage.
In the process of implementing technical solutions at Viettel Innovation Lab, Viettel used private player radio equipment and mobile devices using a state-of-the-art processor. Viettel has been a pioneer in deploying 5G in Vietnam and the only network operator in the world with the capacity to research and develop 5G equipment. The CEO of Viettel Networks stated that this breakthrough in speed helps increase the efficiency of Viettel’s 5G network. The organisation will continue to promote this technology so that people, businesses, governments, and society at large can experience the distinct benefits of 5G in particular and 4.0 technology in general.
An industry expert noted that this is an easy-to-install solution that promises to accelerate widespread 5G deployment in high-density urban areas with many preeminent features, ensuring the best user experience. The results of the trial confirm that Viettel’s 5G infrastructure is ready to deliver outstanding 5G services and experiences and promote the vision of digitising industries in Vietnam. This achievement enables large capacity, multi-Gigabit speeds, and low latency in solutions for individuals and businesses. The country has taken another important step in enabling Vietnamese people to access high-speed 5G equipment anytime, anywhere.
Earlier in July, Hanoi authorities announced a new postal telecommunications infrastructure development plan for 2025 with a vision for 2030. It aims to serve the city’s digital transformation programme. It defines postal infrastructure as an important factor of the digital economy, which contributes to promoting the development of a digital government and digital society.
Under the plan, the city targets 100% of communes to establish a post office with staff; all households register digital addresses; 4G/5G services and smartphones universalised, and fibre-optic broadband covering 80% of local households and every commune. Meanwhile, 80% of local industrial parks, high-tech parks and higher education facilities, hospitals, and public departments will be covered by 5G services. Also, about 95% of total households in Hanoi are expected to own and use at least one smartphone by 2025.
As OpenGov Asia reported, the city will prioritise high-quality broadband telecommunication infrastructure in high-tech parks, concentrated IT parks, industrial parks, export processing zones, R&D and innovation centres, schools, state agencies, hospitals, and tourism sites. Hanoi will also develop free WiFi networks in all tourist sites across the city. Apart from this, the city will speed up activities to promote the universalisation of smartphones and help local residents to access digital services easily. To this end, the municipal People’s Committee is encouraging economic sectors to build postal and telecommunication infrastructure systems and diversify telecommunication services.
Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has released a fully integrated 3D version of OneMap, Singapore’s authoritative national map. The tool is the certified national map of Singapore which contains the latest and most comprehensive information on Singapore’s landscape. A product of a collaboration between several government agencies, the map’s services are free to access.
The application, OneMap3D, was unveiled at the Singapore Geospatial Festival 2021, where SLA also signed separate memorandums of understanding (MOU) with the country’s logistics and real estate agencies to expand the industry’s use of OneMap.
The latest was created by converting the original format to 3D using open-source 3D geospatial technology and 3D city modelling. Initially, OneMap was first released in 2010, followed by an improved version in 2017 in 2D that included features such as real-time traffic data and an Application Programming Interface (API) for app developers.
It is built on our commitment to enhance our country’s geospatial capabilities and to provide new geospatial solutions for businesses, government and the wider public.
– Singapore’s culture, community and youth minister
OneMap is the country’s digital map service, and it is constantly updated with information from government agencies, such as where citizens can pick up a free face mask. Singapore’s Civil Defence Force also used OneMap to create MyResponder, an app that alerts all trained first responders to cardiac arrests in the area. The new OneMap3D upgrade will allow citizens to navigate through a neighbourhood in the first-person view, simulating what a route would look like in person.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, Geospatial Technology involves the use of technology for collecting and utilising geographic information. Some of these technologies include Geographic Information System (GIS), GPS, remote sensing, and geofencing.
On the prevalence of the use of geospatial information in Singapore, organisations such as Grab manipulate this data to be able to match drivers with passengers, in real-time. There is already an everyday use of geospatial technology with the likes of GPS for navigating around. It provides location-based services such as:
SLA Chief Executive says the MOUs with the logistics and real estate agencies are part of SLA’s efforts to collaborate with industry leaders to promote growth and opportunities through geospatial solutions.
SLA’s MOU with the property or real estate company in the real estate space will result in the development of new feature data collection and customised Application Programming Interface (API) to improve the property company’s applications and OneMap geospatial information. As per the company’s CEO, the collaboration has the potential to be a “game-changer” in the real estate industry.
In contrast, the parties will collaborate on geospatial co-innovations to improve hyperlocal and granular data at the street level for last-mile delivery under SLA’s MOU with Singapore’s logistics company. “We are delighted to be SLA’s first express logistics partner for GeoWorks,” says the CEO of the logistics firm.
He went on to say that by having the company’s drivers contribute pictorial information to enable OneMap’s accuracy and data volume, the company could potentially set a new industry operational standard by improving the entire last-mile delivery process.
The SLA and homegrown robotics and automation solution company MOU will see the trial of automated data capture with robots, limiting the time and effort from manual data capture, to develop geospatial innovation in the area of robotics and automation solutions. This collaboration will also allow SLA and the company to develop standards for robotics-ready maps and map information interoperability for compatibility across multiple platforms.
Self-driving cars are likely to be the future of transportation, but safety concerns are hurdles that researchers have to overcome to make fully autonomous vehicles become a reality. To accelerate that timeline, U.S. researchers have developed the first set of “certifiable perception” algorithms, which could help protect the next generation of self-driving vehicles — and the vehicles they share the road with. When robots sense their surroundings, they must use algorithms to make estimations about the environment and their location.
These perception algorithms are designed to be fast, with little guarantee of whether the robot has succeeded in gaining a correct understanding of its surroundings. This is one of the biggest existing problems. Our lab is working to design certified algorithms that can tell you if these estimations are correct.
– Lead researcher
Robot perception begins with the robot capturing an image, such as a self-driving car taking a snapshot of an approaching car. The image goes through a machine-learning system called a neural network, which generates key points within the image about the approaching car’s mirrors, wheels, doors.
From there, lines are drawn that seek to trace the detected key points on the 2D car image to the labelled 3D key points in a 3D car model. The researchers must then solve an optimisation problem to rotate and translate the 3D model to align with the key points on the image. This 3D model will help the robot understand the real-world environment.
Each traced line must be analysed to see if it has created a correct match. Since many key points could be matched incorrectly. The team’s algorithm smooths the non-convex problem to become convex and finds successful matches. If the match is not correct, their algorithm will know how to continue trying until it finds the best solution, known as the global minimum. A certificate is given when there are no better solutions.
These certifiable algorithms have a huge potential impact because tools like self-driving cars must be robust and trustworthy. The goal is to make it so a driver will receive an alert to take over the steering wheel if the perception system has failed.
The 3D model gets morphed to match the 2D image by undergoing a linear combination of previously identified vehicles. For example, the model could shift from being an Audi to a Hyundai as it registers the correct build of the actual car. Identifying the approaching car’s dimensions is key to preventing collisions.
The lead researcher stated that to achieve trustworthy autonomy, it is time to embrace a diverse set of tools to design the next generation of safe perception algorithms. There must always be a failsafe since no human-made system can be perfect. The safety precautions for self-driving cars will take the power of both rigorous theory and computation to revolutionise what it can be successfully unveiled to the public.
U.S. researchers have been developing robotic technologies for various purposes, including to help people with disabilities. As reported by OpenGov Asia, U.S. Researchers have now developed an alternative approach that they believe could offer much more precise control of prosthetic limbs. After inserting small magnetic beads into muscle tissue within the amputated residuum, they can precisely measure the length of a muscle as it contracts, and this feedback can be relayed to a bionic prosthesis within milliseconds.
In a new study appearing today in Science Robotics, the researchers tested their new strategy, called magnetomicrometry (MM), and showed that it can provide fast and accurate muscle measurements in animals. They hope to test the approach in people with amputation within the next few years.
Western Australia’s Main Roads has completed the migration of its customer relationship management (CRM) system into the cloud in collaboration with an American multinational technology corporation. The government agency has transitioned CONNECT, a Dynamics-powered CRM suite by the company, to the cloud as part of a nine-month project.
The project, supported by ASG and WithPrecision, is aimed at modernising the legacy system and providing enhanced support for its network operations centre. The new cloud-based CONNECT platform is being integrated with Main Roads’ raft of legacy software, including its Oracle-based road data application and its record-keeping systems.
Main Roads is planning to create an Azure Data Lake to store data from different systems. To enhance its data and analytics capabilities, the agency also plans to make more use of Microsoft’s Power Platform to turn the stored data into actionable insights.
The platform has been customised to support the agency’s 24/7 Customer Information Centre by allowing staff to record calls as a customer activity or convert them into a case or fault report. Activities, cases or fault reports can also be linked to customised Project pages providing a centralised view of all customer interactions related to road projects across WA.
Main Roads CRM System Manager stated that the new platform has been well received by users. He noted that people very quickly could see the advantage of having a centralised customer system and start building a more holistic view of our customers. It gives the team a real-time view of what’s going on within infrastructure delivery projects which they never had before.
OpenGov Asia recently reported that Transport for NSW is hoping that aggregated data collected by a Dutch consumer electronics company and LiDAR systems might provide it with more timely insight into conditions and hazards on the state’s road network. The agency, in collaboration with iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), currently relies on videos taken by crews for safety assessments, from which certain road attributes are extracted.
However, TfNSW wants to speed up the process, and has embarked on a project that will “convert raw data… into an international standard five-star rating system”. The project will deliver 20,000 km of road attributes in NSW using TomTom’s MN-R map data, as well as prove feature extraction techniques and machine learning for LiDAR data.
MN-R is the model that the consumer electronics company uses to keep its mapping data up-to-date. It combines several layers of data collection techniques, including from the use of its navigation systems and from sensors.
In addition to understanding road conditions and hazards, TfNSW hopes the project could also lead to the development of predictive algorithms around injuries and fatalities in the future. The project will feed into a global ‘AiRAP’ initiative from a non-profit roads rating agency, the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP).
TfNSW is also working with the University of Technology Sydney and geospatial data experts an NSW software company on the project. The local company has previously partnered with the consumer electronics company to extract more than 50 road assets and safety features such as road markings, safety barriers and trees from LiDAR data.
The IRAP global innovation manager, who is overseeing the project, said AI had the “potential to reduce costs and increase the frequency and accuracy of data”. She noted that making faster and more affordable data collection possible means that safety assessments can be done on an annual basis across the whole road network.
The global road safety market size was valued at US$2.88 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.4% from 2021 to 2028. During the COVID-19 pandemic, road fatalities witnessed a sharp decline.
The Ministry of Agriculture signed five memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with five tech giants. Under the collaborations, the private players will conduct pilot projects to integrate digital technology and other best practices in the agricultural sector.
According to a news report, these MoUs are a part of the digital agriculture mission that was initiated for 2021-25 by the government to integrate emerging technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, remote sensing and GIS technology and the use of drones and robots, etc. Establishing a digital ecosystem of agriculture needs to take a long-term view of aspects like interoperability, data governance, data quality, data standards, security, and privacy, besides promoting innovation. A significant requirement is the adoption of a decentralised, federated architecture that assures autonomy to the service providers and all other actors and ensures interoperability at the same time.
To support these projects, the ministry is creating a federated farmers database that will be linked to farmers’ land records from across the country and a unique farmer ID will be created. These technologies will support farmers to make informed decisions on suitable crops to grow, types of seeds to use, and the best practices for maximum yields. The agriculture supply chain players can plan their procurement and logistics on precise and timely information. Farmers can make informed decisions about whether to sell or store their produce and when and where and what price to sell, the report said.
Further, under the unified database for all farmers, users can access the information of all benefits and supports of various schemes of the central and state governments. So far, the database is ready with details of around 55 million farmers. Any attempt to transform the agriculture sector needs to imbibe an ecosystem thinking and a digital ecosystem. The agriculture value chain extends from crop selection to crop management and the market; it involves public and private players in agricultural inputs and services and also logistics.
The country has been using technology to improve crop yield and double farmer incomes. In July, researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology in Mandi (IIT-Mandi) and the Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI) in Shimla developed an AI solution that can detect diseased parts of potato crop using photographs of its leaves. As OpenGov Asia had reported, blight is a common disease of the potato plant. It leads to the rotting of the plant. If left undetected and unchecked, blight could destroy the entire crop within a week under conducive conditions.
IIT-Mandi’s computational tool can detect blight in potato leaf images. The model is built using an AI tool called mask region-based convolutional neural network architecture and can accurately highlight the diseased portions of the leaf amid a complex background of plant and soil matter. In India, as with most developing countries, the detection and identification of blight are performed manually by trained personnel who scout the field and visually inspect potato foliage. This process, as expected, is tedious and often impractical, especially for remote areas, because it requires the expertise of a horticultural specialist who may not be physically accessible.
Automated disease detection can help in this regard and given the extensive proliferation of mobile phones across the country, the smartphone could be a useful tool, according to a researcher on the team. The advanced HD cameras, better computing power, and communication avenues offered by smartphones offer a promising platform for automated disease detection in crops.
The Philippines Space Agency has reported that the Philippines to move forward with more of its establishment of satellites launched to space. According to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the MULA (Multispectral Unit for Land Assessment) satellite, which is set to launch in 2023, is on the government’s priority list. With its added jet propulsion system, MULA will stay in space longer and take more images than other Filipino-made satellites that have previously been launched.
“I am looking forward to seeing how MULA’s enhanced imaging capabilities can help improve disaster management, land use and land cover change mapping, crop monitoring and forest monitoring,” he said during a virtual event on the Philippine Space Agency’s (PhilSA) social media page.
The results of our human resource development program are even beyond our expectations considering the difficult working environment where we are in right now. Our country partners like Japan are saying that we are catching up fast. I hope that government budgetary support will be stronger and continuing.
– DOST Secretary
It is said to be twice as heavy and larger than the Diwata-2 microsatellite, with more payloads and spectral bands, allowing it to support more image applications and satellite products. “MULA is very significant to the DOST. Aside from being the biggest Philippine satellite developed, this is the first satellite that the DOST is doing in coordination with PhilSA,” the DOST chief said.
The DOST Secretary is convinced in PhilSA’s ability to oversee the completion and expected launch of MULA, as well as manage and operate the satellite afterwards. “It gives me the pride to see first-hand how the DOST’s early space R&D (research and development) activities have helped capable young Filipino scientists and engineers,” the official said, adding that the MULA team’s dedication inspires him.
Using the satellite, Filipino researchers could use MULA to mitigate challenges such as water quality and marine resource sustainability, among others. The MULA satellite in low earth orbit can circle the globe ten times per day, expanding opportunities for market data or leveraging collaboration with other nations.
Furthermore, the launch of two locally built cube satellites (cubesats) to the International Space Station (ISS) – the Maya-3 and Maya-4 – has been delayed due to inclement weather. According to the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA), another attempt will be made. As per PhilSA’s Deputy Director-General, the cubesats will illustrate satellite stabilisation and control in orbit, onboard image processing and classification, as well as the use of solar cells and cubesat antennas, and test sensor and chip functionality.
In an interview, the Secretary of Science and Technology (DOST) asserted, “I am pleased that the country is meeting its targets and timelines in the space technology programme.” “The collaboration between DOST, PhilSA, and the University of the Philippines (UP) – Diliman has been quite effective,” he added.
Both cubesats were created as part of the STAMINA4Space (Space Technology and Applications Mastery, Innovation, and Advancement) Programme, which was funded by the DOST, UP Diliman, PhilSA, and Japan’s Kyushu Institute of Technology. The cubesats are nearly identical, weighing 1.15 kgs and measuring 10 cm (cm) X 10 cm X 11.35 cm.
Their missions included ground data acquisition demonstrations, image and video capture, detection and protection from single event latch-up due to space radiation, and GPS chip demonstrations, among others. Maya-1 was launched in 2018 and Maya-2 in 2021. Diwata 1 and 2, both microsatellites, were launched in 2016 and 2018, respectively. DOST previously noted that the projects will increase efforts to harness the power of satellite technology for other purposes such as agriculture, forest cover and natural resource inventory, weather forecasting, and disaster damage assessment and monitoring, among others.
The intelligent industry represented by robots is injecting new momentum into high-quality economic development and the global robot ecosystem is constantly improving in China. China also created an open platform to gather innovation resources, introduce new products and facilitate industrial cooperation. The robot industry needs to strengthen basic research and make technical breakthroughs to make more original innovations.
Secretary of China’s Leading Party Members Group called on to put enterprises at the dominant position of innovation and promote the integration of industries, universities and research agencies to better communicate science and create a sound social environment to boost the industry.
Chinese sci-tech and industrial communities should join hands with their global peers to develop intelligent industry and deepen innovative cooperation to make contributions to building a community with a shared future for mankind.
The robot industry is one of the major priorities in Beijing’s accelerating process to become an international sci-tech innovation centre.
– Mayor of Beijing
Beijing will give full play to its sci-tech advantages to provide support for the enterprises to carry out research, facilitate industrialisation and promote the coordinated development of robot enterprises with intelligent manufacturing.
The mayor of Beijing urged to gather all kinds of innovation elements to foster industrial champions and leading-position enterprises, establish joint platforms for innovation, cooperation and product test and verification, empower traditional industries with new modes and build highlands of robot innovation and application.
The Chinese government has attached great importance to boosting the high-quality development of the robot industry. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology must implement the important instructions of the President of China and follow the deployment of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council to promote China’s robot industry from 4 perspectives: consolidating the industrial foundation, enhancing product supply, expanding application and optimising industrial ecology.
The exhibition displayed more than 500 new products from more than 110 enterprises and research agencies. The medical treatment robots and the application of brain-computer interface technologies highlighted the exhibition. Relevant experts, scholars and entrepreneurs both at home and abroad, together with representatives of international agencies participated in the event in a combination form of online and on-spot.
According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), China has had the most industrial robots in operation globally since 2016. By 2020, China is expected to produce 150,000 industrial robot units and have 950,300 industrial robots in operation.
China’s robotics industry is large, but still has significant room for development. The Chinese government has recognised as much in its Made in China 2025 (MIC 2025) industrial policy, which identifies the robotics industry as a strategically important sector. This designation creates both opportunities and challenges for foreign investors.
MIC 2025 starts by listing the robotics industry, along with artificial intelligence and automation, as one of the priority sectors for high-end development to push forward the transformation and upgrading of the manufacturing industry.
China has been utilising robots in various fields, including healthcare with the development of vascular interventional surgical robots. As reported by OpenGov Asia, Chinese researchers from the Beijing Institute of Technology have cooperated with Beijing Tiantan Hospital and other units to research core technology optimisation and special consumables of vascular interventional surgery robots. The surgery robot has become the interventional robot product with the fastest research and development progress in China.
With the support of the project of the National Key R&D Programme of China “Industrialisation Research and Application of Minimally Invasive Vascular Interventional Surgery Robot”, the development of the robot was fully completed. At present, the surgical robot, after further technological upgrades, has taken the lead in entering the clinical trial stage registered by the NMPA (National Medical Products Administration), and 123 clinical trial cases have been completed.

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