Makati launches digital payments card for gov't transactions, purchases

MANILA, Philippines – The Makati city government, along with Ayala-led Globe Telecom and iBayad Online Ventures Incorporated, have launched an all-in-one card for Makati City residents and government employees.

Dubbed the Makatizen Card, it allows the city's estimated 500,000 residents to access city government services, pay fees and taxes, as well as receive cash allowances, stipends, and other monetary benefits.

City government employees, meanwhile, can use their Makatizen Card to receive salaries and allowances.

Beyond that, the card also functions as an automated teller machine (ATM) card and carries with it all the features of Globe's GCash digital payments platform.

"[The card] takes us a step nearer to achieving our goal of empowering everyone, including those in the marginalized sectors of society, to enjoy a better quality of life," said Makati City Mayor Abigail Binay at the launch of the card on Tuesday, May 30.

"We view this unsolicited project proposal from Globe, GCash, and iBayad as the springboard for the rapid transformation of Makati into the country's first digital city, where citizens and civil servants are able to experience the optimum benefits of the latest innovations in information technology," she added.

Globe subsidiary G-Xchange Incorporated (GXI), which operates GCash, will serve as the financial service provider for the Makatizen Card, while iBayad will deploy the mobile point of sale (mPOS) terminals and build the merchant network where the cards will be accepted.

The Makatizen Card is also considered a valid government-issued ID. It comes with a near-field communication (NFC) feature that allows city offices equipped with iBayad machine readers to verify the identity of residents and city government employees. No additional documents will be needed for identification.

Makatizen Card users will also be able to pay for items included in iBayad's merchant network, which is planned to include Jollijeeps, sari-sari stores, and roving vendors for easier and safer transactions.

iBayad will also be implementing the Makatizen Loyalty and Rewards Program, where users earn loyalty reward points that can be used to purchase items.

"Each Makatizen Card carries the features of the GCash mobile wallet but is also customized to be used in the city-wide local merchant network. All services that they will get in Makati City, whether it is payment of taxes, cash allowances for health and other benefits, etc, will be directly credited to this GCash wallet that is linked to the card. They don't have to carry anything except this ID and their mobile phone," explained GXI president Albert Tinio.

Cashless drive

The card is part of Globe's drive to create a city-wide cashless ecosystem where digital payment methods such as e-money and debit or credit cards are used instead of physical cash. 

This, the firm noted, will benefit not only residents but also schools, hospitals, government offices, transportation facilities, and micro, small, and medium enterprises.

Globe earlier partnered with Chinese digital payments giant Ant Financial, owned by Jack Ma's Alibaba, to improve its digital payments platform. This follows partnerships with other high-profile global firms like PayPal.

It has also taken a direct stake in e-commerce through its investment in online fashion platform Zalora.

"For the Philippines to truly become a digital nation, we need to fully take advantage of new digital opportunities and innovations to enable growth in every corner of our country. We laud the vision of the Makati city government whose support of this initiative is critical to build the city-wide digital ecosystem," said Globe president and chief executive officer Ernest Cu. – Rappler.com