It is clear that Filipinos want to be smarter with their money, judging by the abundance of financial literacy books on Philippine bestseller lists.
While knowledge of wealth management and investing are great, they can only take us so far. We need financial tools to truly make the best decisions for ourselves and our loved ones.
One new tool is the online financial comparison platform eCompareMo. Its managing director, Michelin Chung, said that similar platforms are thriving in Europe and the United States because they help both individual consumers and financial institutions.
For individual Filipinos, eCompareMo lets them search and apply for different financial products such as credit cards, loans, insurance, and time deposit products. A customer chooses a financial product to compare, such as housing loans, and then inputs relevant information, such as salary and occupation.
The eCompareMo platform then presents the user with a selection of options.
“Results are intelligent – the system only shows the user the products that he or she is eligible for,” Chung said.
Chung added that the system eliminates “junk applicants” and ensures a high and consistent quality of customers for partner companies.
eCompareMo thus helps partner institutions improve their online customer acquisition costs and processing time. The company monetizes through these partners, charging the banks and insurers it works with a commission fee.
The commission fee does not represent a markup on a product, nor does it mean eCompareMo will prioritize some financial products over others. Chung said that all products have an equal chance of “getting picked.”
“Similar to supermarkets where are alike products are in one aisle, all the products are there for the customers to compare side by side,” she said.
The great equalizer
Chung said that the financial industry is heavily regulated, which can be a major challenge on the fin side of fin-tech. As an example, they have to strictly adhere to the regulations of the Truth in Lending Act, which they stringently implement in their algorithms.
Yet as complex as the business and regulatory side of eCompareMo is, the platform strives to provide simplicity for the user. This is essential if eCompareMo is to achieve Chung’s goal of helping individual Filipinos use it to make smarter financial decisions.
“With straightforward information results, users can effectively plan their finances and envision the perfect timetable for their finance schedules, therefore giving them the power to adjust some factors to tailor fit their situation,” Chung said.
Of course, most Filipinos are not accustomed to using an online tool as the basis or entry point for major financial decisions. Chung understands this and wants eCompareMo to be the evangelist that encourages Filipinos to start getting into the habit of online financial comparison.
She sees this habit as tapping into the value that technology can bring.
“It has been said that information technology is the ‘great equalizer’ for a variety of reasons, but most especially because the Internet brings opportunities to developing countries to improve growth,” she said.
In the case of eCompareMo, Chung believes it can help Filipinos “get ahead” in this generation. The biggest challenge is getting Filipinos to buy into this idea as well, but Chung has strong plans on how to do so.
Overseas Filipinos are early adopters
Chung is focusing on search engine optimization, so eCompareMo stands as first in line to help Filipinos in need of financial comparison. But perhaps the most interesting way that Chung and the eCompareMo team are reaching out to Filipinos is through their social media marketing.
Chung said most social media communication is generally one-sided. The brand message flows from the company to the consumer, all without that much meaningful interaction.
In contrast, eCompareMo can engage in dialogue because they have a team of in-house banking and insurance experts. Customers can speak with them through a hotline or chat with them online if they have any queries or need assistance with their application.
Chung has already started to see a few interesting trends in their users.
“Even with the presence of credit cards and its widespread use and practical application, we noticed that Filipinos are more eager for consumer loans,” she said, adding that the most widely cited reasons for availing of one are educational use, debt consolidation, and medical emergency.
Overseas Filipinos also make up a sizable slice of eCompareMo’s early adopters. According to Chung, most of their inquiries revolve around the capitalization needed to set up their businesses in the Philippines.
That Overseas Filipinos are using eCompareMo speaks to the very real social impact fin-tech can make on the Philippines.
“The people are the heart and soul of a nation, and it is that much more invigorating and inspiring to help fellow Filipinos plant their feet back to the motherland in the form of starting up their own businesses, and staying in our country for good,” Chung said. – Rappler.com
Rappler Business columnist Ezra Ferraz is also the chief content officer at ZipMatch, a tech company backed by Ideaspace Foundation, Hatchd Digital, IMJ Investment Partners, and 500 Startups. He brings you Philippine business leaders, their insights, and their secrets via Executive Edge. Connect with him on Twitter: @EzraFerraz
(Editor’s note: eCompareMo is funded by Monk’s Hill Ventures, which also funds ZipMatch, the company where the author is employed.)