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Friday, November 05, 2004

G-Cash kicks butt, but ... (Part 3 of 3)

This is the third of my three-part G-Cash series of articles. In this article, I’ll write about what I have observed about G-Cash. You’ll also find a comparison between G-Cash and Smart Money, their ease of use, their domain of usage. I will talk about what I perceive Globe is doing to promote G-Cash. Furthermore, I have a few ideas on how G-Cash should be promoted. These are in no way exhaustive studies, just my personal usyosero analysis of my experiences using G-Cash.

I toss this up in the blogosphere and invite you, my readers, to share you thoughts about the article and the ideas within. Tuloy po kayo, see what my mind has been up to...

Ang nakaraan ...

In Part I and Part II of "G-Cash: My Accidental Friday G-mmick", I described how National Bookstore and Burger King handled G-Cash transactions fairly well, while I wasn't as lucky in the Mercury Drug branch I went to. I also wrote about the juicier issues I encountered at LBC and Globe Hub.
After 30 minutes walking two kilometers, going to two LBCs, two Globe Hubs, I finally got G-Cash! G-olly! Who would be crazy enough to go through what I went through just to get G-Cash?
At, sa pagbabalik ng G-Cash, huling kabanata, ngunit Episode I pa lamang ...

I. G-Cash vs. Smart Money

Barriers to entry

To be able to take advantage of Smart Money’s many uses, a subscriber needs to apply for a debit card. This requires filling-up a form and waiting for the card to be mailed to the applicant.

On the other hand, G-Cash requires only an SMS registration. After SMS registration, users will be able to send and receive G-Cash or make G-Cash purchases (at partner merchants) immediately.

There are ways to avail of both services without any need for registration. For example, receiving an international remittance through Smart does not require a Smart Money card, although the delivery system makes use of Smart Money. As for G-Cash, I was able to transfer G-Cash to my brother who had not yet registered in G-Cash. I needed to send a confirmation to proceed with the G-Cash transfer to a cellphone that was not yet G-Cash registered.

Keyword-driven vs. Menu driven

Smart Money is menu driven through the SIM Tool Kit, more popularly known as the STK. Amounts, mobile-Personal ID Numbers (m-PINs), recipients and other information are entered through a menu.

G-Cash makes use of SMS to invoke transactions. The downside is that users will need to know the keywords and access number to use the service. Another downside is m-PIN security which will be discussed later.

Domain of usage

Smart Money can be used in any shop that accepts MasterCard. Furthermore, it can be used in any ExpressNet or Megalink ATMs around the country.

G-Cash has a short list of merchants that accept G-Cash transactions. I’m sure Globe is trying to widen this network of merchants.

Both Smart Money and G-Cash services can be used on a person-to-person basis i.e. sending virtual cash from one subscriber to another subscriber of the same service. But G-Cash is in a better position to promote person-to-person transactions because of the low barriers to entry.

II. What Globe G-Cash is up to

Awareness, initial promotions

G-Cash is barely three weeks old as of the time of writing. It is being promoted through print-ads, TV ads, radio ads, flyers and billboards. Obviously, they are at the awareness level, enticing consumers to at least take a closer look at the service.

In a recent print ad, Globe was promoting three uses of G-Cash: pabaon, pang-regalo, pambayad utang. This is the way to go. They need to promote G-Cash as a convenient way of sending (virtual) cash across geographic barriers (more on this later).

Still at soft-launch, are they?

Aside from marketing the service to consumers, they are still at the level where merchants (e.g. National Bookstore or Burger King cashiers) are still getting accustomed to G-Cash transactions. One National Bookstore cashier said that they underwent a training on G-Cash, but that they weren’t able to do actual G-Cash transactions during the training.

Globe and its partners have some technical issues to address. A Globe Hub cashier reported slowed the slow response of their computers when G-Cash transactions are processed (see part II). An LBC personnel shared that their IT department needed to install additional settings to include G-Cash in their computers.

III. What Globe G-Cash should be up to

Need to increase their network of partner merchants

Partner merchants like National Bookstore or Mercury Drug require adjustments in their cash register machines to accept G-Cash transactions. This is a barrier for Globe that slows down the pace of widening their merchant network. It would have been easier for them to widen their merchant network if there weren’t any need for technical changes in mechants’ machines.

(To illustrate, Smart Money doesn’t need to do anything for a merchant to accept Smart Money. Any merchant that accepts MasterCard can accept Smart Money transactions.)

G-Cash should work on widening its network of partners. It was a good start when Globe included LBC and Cebuana Lhuillier among their merchants. That’s where a big market of domestic remittances go through. But Globe should go a step further and enlist big merchants like SM, 7-11, Jollibee etc. to widen their merchant network fast. If any Globe user will be able to pay for a Chicken Joy using one’s phone, that would be one additional reason (not necessarily compelling) to use G-Cash.

Promote wider personal use

At the same time that Globe is widening the G-Cash partner network, Globe should also show subscribers even more ways of using G-Cash. The print ads saying: “Pabaon, pang-regalo, pambayad utang” – this is just the start of it.
  • Take a look at the Ragnarok gamers. They sell weapons or potions or even characters to each other. And do you know what they use to pay for these virtual items? They use cellphone load or cellcards! Now gamers can sell virtual items through G-Cash.

  • There are hundreds of websites in the Philippines that have items to sell. But there aren’t many ways to collect payments. We have a member in Airfagev who has a library of e-Books. She accepts donations through pasa-load. Now she’ll be able to accept donations through G-Cash. G-Cash is an instant (*instant!*) payment gateway that can be used by anyone to accept payments. Take a look at the clientele of PayPlus, a payment gateway that makes use of ATM accounts. That is the same kind of clientele that G-Cash should promote their services to.

  • In every town fiesta or in every church, people solicit money for raffles, for pageants or for fund-raising. But they solicit only from people they are in direct contact with. That’s because of the physical nature of having to get cash. But with G-Cash, people could solicit from their relatives in the city or in other parts of the country.

Create G-Cash business models

Globe should take a tip from Smart which re-packages some Smart services and provides businesses for small entrepreneurs.

Let me explain.
  • PasaLoad was originally promoted as a friend-to-friend load passing at the cost of the sender. Smart came out with posters and flyers that promote retailing of Smart Load using Pasa-Load (not e-Load). Now anybody can provide PasaLoad services and charge customers for it. No need for any applications or special SIMs. All Smart did was to “legitimize” the paid service through a business model and some posters and flyers. Thus, increasing the velocity of load retailing.

  • Another example is Smart Partner. Read about the Smart Partner business model in this previous article.

What’s the lesson? G-Cash is highly versatile. It gets its versatility from the ease by which people across the archipelago can send each other "almost cash" G-Cash. Globe should find ways to make G-Cash part of the top of mind payment options especially for remote payments.

  • For example, I’ve already discussed a business model for anybody who wants to be in a domestic remittance business (See G-Cash: Everybody’s remittance service).

  • Another business model Globe could look into is money changing. The cash-in and cash-out G-Cash transactions of Globe Hub, LBC and Lhuiller are, in essence, just money changing. But put all the Globe Hubs, LBCs and Lhuillers together, how many hundred outlets will you get? I bet that figure is less than half of the total number of moneychangers you have in every nook and cranny of this archipelago?

    The point is, if Globe can promote G-Cash conversion through moneychangers, they could increase their network of G-Cash outlets and G-Cash users. And that doesn’t require any technical changes in any cash registers, just some posters and flyers.

G-Cash pump-priming and a barometer of success

I have a question:
How much faith does Globe have in G-Cash? How much does Globe believe in the forthcoming ubiquity and usability of G-Cash?

I could almost hear my high school friend in Globe saying:
G-Cash is great! It’s awesome! It will take the place of cash!

If Globe has so much faith in G-Cash, I say to Globe:
Then you should pay employee salaries using G-Cash.

This is not a hollow proposition. I make this proposition for two reasons.

  • First, I see it as a mechanism to pump-prime the G-Cash system.

    From the way my G-Cash transactions went in the past weeks, there is much left to be desired. It is appears that hundreds of partner merchants and cashiers still need to get accustomed to G-Cash transactions. If Globe subscribers go to a Mercury Drug outlet and try to pay via G-Cash but the kahera doesn’t know how to accommodate the transaction, the easiest thing to do is … pay cash then forget all about using G-Cash forever and ever, a-hem.

    But, with hundreds of Globe employees lugging around some G-Cash, this G-Cash will inevitably find their way to the partner establishments of G-Cash.

  • Second, when Globe is ready to give G-Cash salaries, that will be the indicator that G-Cash is already mainstream.

    When the time comes that I can go out of my gate in the morning without my wallet and only my cellphone, and then pay the tricycle driver G-Cash, pay the MRT G-Cash, pay our school cafeteria G-Cash, purchase a ticket to Australia using G-Cash, give a sampaguita vendor G-Barya, buy a cup of – ah! by then, G-Cash had arrived!

Let’s think out loud

G-Cash has huge potentials that are just waiting to be discovered. It is important for Globe to facilitate the growth of usage of the service by introducing innovative ways of using G-Cash as a payment gateway that connects the archipelago through mobile commerce.

G-Cash can kick butt. But Globe has a lot of work to do before the global m-commerce butt gets kicked.

I’d like to end with an insight that I choose not to discuss at length in this article. Instead, I open it up for discussion to all visitors. Let me know what you think.

The Telcos are becoming banks. They are creating services that encourage subscribers to store money in the coffers of Smart (through Smart Money) and Globe (through G-Cash).

Where will this lead the telcos?
How will it affect the Filipinos, their love affair with the cellphone and the way they transact business?
What good tidings will this bring to regular cellphone totting, ambi-thumb-trous Filipinos?

- Edwin

I'm looking forward to your comments.
Come back next week on Friday, November 12 for another dose of FriED Technobiography.
Lets exchange ideas about technologies and how they influence our lives.

Read: G-Cash: My Accidental Friday G-mmick (Part I, Part II), Links - Smart Padala
Search Technobiography: G-Cash, Smart Money, Smart Padala
Visit: G-Cash on Globe, Smart Money and Smart Padala on Smart
Google Search: G-Cash, Smart Money, Smart Padala


  • At 10:47 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    nasubukan mo ba yung remitance ng gcash at smart? madali lang ba yon? pano ginagawa yon? meron bang remitance mula sa korea?

  • At 12:26 pm, Blogger Justine said…

    As of now wala pa for G-Cash. But mag-e-expand ang G-Cash Int'l remittance soon. Meron na sa HK, UK at Italy.

  • At 3:09 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    g-cash doesn't earn interest e. so i don't think they'll distribute the salary via g-cash. however, during our xmas party, yun ung mode of "cash" prizes namin. Our xmas extra bonus was paid via g-cash as well. =)

  • At 3:33 pm, Blogger Edwin "ka edong" said…

    hmmm... yung bank interest ba ang interest ng company sa pag-open ng payroll account? ;-) maybe it's that way for a big company like yours. sa aming munting opisina kasi, wipe-out agad ang kinsenas, kaya parang wala naman masyadong benefit yung bank interest.

    bonus via g-cash?! biyayaan niyo naman kami! ( hehehe ... namamasko po!). o, yan, at least may chunk of g-cash circulating sa pinas, 'di ba?

    sayang nga, eh! ganda sana if g-cash offered g-cash gift certificates nitong christmas. tulad ko, gusto kong padalhan yung mga ina-anak ko ng tig-1,000 pesos (naks!) - pero gusto ko sa national bookstore lang nila gastusin (studious kunwari).

    solusyon (sana): National Bookstore Gift Certificates via G-Cash!

    Oh well, maligayang pasko!!!

    ka edong

  • At 6:28 pm, Anonymous daong said…

    Another thing that is preventing GCash from being used by most Filipinos is its lack of validation in its system.For example, if we would like to pay Mercury Drug thru GCash we will have to send GCash to a certain number. To ensure that you are really sending to Mercury Drug you have to make sure that you key in the correct number otherwise it gets sent to another cell number. The GCash system should validate first that you are sending to the correct account before actually sending the GCash

  • At 12:53 am, Blogger Edwin "ka edong" said…

    Thanks, Daong for your input.

    Different merchants have different ways of collecting G-Cash from customers.

    National bookstore requests payment (naniningil). The cashier asks for the customer's number, cashier keys in a request in the branch cellphone and then the customer receives a message. The message asks the customer to confirm whether the customer will allow the payment to the national bookstore branch with the indicated amount.

    You're right, as far as i can recall, mercury doesn't have a validation except for the customer's own vigilance. If the customer mistakenly reads/types the prominently displayed branch cellphone number, it's his own fault. That's what i think. ;-)


    ka edong

  • At 7:04 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ka Edong,

    In all its Gcash accredited merchants and even if we try to pay GCash from phone to phone, Globe doesnt have a validation system in place.

    I already wrote Customer Service about this concern but they just told me "we cannot do many things at the same time. Gcash is still in its infancy so we cannot expect it to be perfect".

    WIthout any validation, how can you expect our OFWs to trust GCash for their remittance from abroad? It is still better to course thru international remittance thru banks because they already have validation systems in place. Ang dami sigurong mag rereklamo na OFW at kamag anak nila dito sa Pilipinas kapag napadala ang pera sa maling recipients (at ilan lang kaya ang sasauli sa pera na hindi sa kanila)

    If Globe is really serious for GCash to be used by most end users, they should at least listen to concerned Gcash users like us.

    Btw, I have some friends from Globe who told me that the management is already encouraging its employees to convert some of their salary to G-Cash. My source said they even have some pa contest on whose department has the most number of GCash conversions :-) At last, your well-meaning suggestions has been listened to by Globe.

  • At 3:45 pm, Anonymous ka edong said…


    >At last, your well-meaning suggestions has been listened to by Globe.

    you've been reading Technobiography! tuwa naman ako. ;-)

    >In all its Gcash accredited merchants and even if we try to pay GCash from phone to phone, Globe doesnt have a validation system in place.

    I'm not sure what you mean. I know for a fact that there are unique transaction numbers for G-Cash transactions and that "statements of account" can be requested.

    Would you expound on what you mean?

    ka edong

  • At 10:12 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hi ka edong,

    what i meant in my previous post was :

    1. Sending GCash from cell to cell : there is no validation in their system- you just send the GCash and the money is immediately sent to the typed number (if there is a validation, the system could have told you if you were able to send to the correct recipient. Typing the wrong number would immediately send the money to the wrong recipient).
    2. Paying GCash to the merchant : Without a validation system in place, typing the wrong digit (even just one!) would send your payment to the wrong recipient (your purchases at Mercury would not be paid).

    The best example for a validation system is our local banks. The moment you give them the account number and the account name, their system can immediately verify if the 2 matches. If it doesnt, you are informed by the teller that your deposit cannot be accepted. Sana may capability din ang GCash ng ganito. Until this is done, people would still be reluctant to use GCash.

  • At 12:46 am, Anonymous ka edong said…

    Hi Anonymous,

    I agree with you to in some of your points, but not all.

    a.) Yes, there is a possibility of making a mistake when typing a G-Cash recepient's phone number. What I advised my G-Cash retailers (see to read about GCRs in my pilot study) is to save the number in their address book. Thus, in their address book, there would be a number saved in this format:
    Name: "Send G-cash to Sir Arnold" Mobile number: "28829171234567"

    This way, the mistake of wrong send can be avoided.

    b.) If I (or any G-Cash user) try to send G-Cash to another Globe subscriber who has *not* registered his/her phone with G-Cash, a confirmation is requested by the system. The system will say something like:

    "The number 09171234567 is not a registered G-Cash user. Do you want to continue sending P200? Reply with "yes" to continue. No reply within 5 minutes cancels the transaction"

    c.) I had the unfortunate experience of confirming a Person-to-person send of g-Cash to an un-used Globe SIM (my old post-paid Globe account). (See G-Cash explorations, scroll down to "Ooops! I sent P100 to a dead SIM!")

    d.) G-Cash partner merchants have different ways of transacting. For example, Mercury just gives the g-Cash user a mobile phone number to send G-cAsh to (customer initiated transaction).

    On the other hand, NAtional bookstore and Burger King will make a request for payment (merchant initiated transaction). They will ask for the customer's G-cash registered mobile number and request for the specific amount of your bill. Customer needs to confirm payment by replying "yes". If customer doesn't confirm within 5 minutes, the transaction is cancelled.

    e.) thus, in the last example, (National and Burger King), *there is* validation. The transaction will not continue if there is a human error in mis-sending payment requests.

    Anonymous, let's continue this discussion. Are you a banker? E-mail me in private if you wish:


    ka edong


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