GCash eyes “biggest IPO” title, overseas expansion in 2024
The Philippines’ biggest payments and mobile wallet floats the possibility of going public soon.
The golden question that GCash is facing right now is this: when’s the IPO happening?
G-Xchange CEO and President Ren-Ren Reyes told Asian Banking & Finance that Philippines’ largest mobile wallet and digital payments app is just waiting for the right moment as they eye becoming one of the country’s largest IPOs in history.
“The marching orders, the push button: we are ready for an IPO,” Reyes, who heads the owner and operator of GCash, told ABF during the Singapore Fintech Festival 2023 in November. “It all depends on the market conditions. We want to make Filipinos proud of a GCash IPO.
“We want them to participate in our IPO, whether to invest in GCash, or at least be proud that the brand they use every day is now one of the biggest IPOs in the country,” Reyes added.
Even without the IPO, GCash already has quite a lot to be proud about: it now has over 75 million active users, expanding from the 60 million it had in May 2022.
GCash has also issued 13.5 million insurance policies, and 9.1 million users are actively registered in GSave. Most recently, they also launched GSave and GCrypto.
But GCash’s ambitions for 2024 far exceed just going public and getting listed in the stock exchange, with Reyes sharing overseas and local expansions on the horizon.
Under the pilot of its GCash overseas service, the app has already enabled Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) from six foreign countries to sign up for the GCash app regardless of whether they have a Philippine sim card or not. This, in turn, enables them to send money back home through their GCash accounts.
In 2024, GCash is looking not just to fully launch the service but also to add 10 more markets in the service, seeking partnerships from countries in the Middle East and Singapore, Reyes said.
Before this, GCash had already expanded beyond Philippine shores with its partnership with Alipay+, through which GCash users are able to pay on international markets and payment terminals through their app.
In Japan alone, Filipinos can enjoy cross-border payments from over 50,000 convenience stores with their GCash app via QR payments. Overall, GCash users can now use their app to pay at over 90,000 convenience stores across Asia.
“We continue to acquire more merchants and are bringing in more MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises),” Reyes added.
The SME conundrum
For 2024, expect GCash to roll out more ways to help small businesses attain financial inclusion.
Even before that, GCash has already made strides in the micro-lending space. “Today, we've already disbursed over 100 billion in consumer loans to over three and a half million Filipinos,” he said, adding that this is formal lending at non-collaterized loans.
Financial access remains a key issue for small businesses coming in 2024, however. “We've been in discussions and working with the government on how we can really help the micro SMEs,” Reyes said. “The biggest problem with micro SMEs is that they don't have the documentation that they need, so that they can be classified as a business account.”
Right now, the solution is to have a proxy, Reyes noted. Whilst this helps them, it is not the best fit as they are locked out of much-needed services such as merchant loans and opening business accounts with banks.
“That's why we've been working with [the central bank] to try and lower and find a way to simplify the business requirements, so that we can classify them as a merchant and offer them the right products,” Reyes added.
Trust and the community
Trust and security are two topics that are also in GCash’s mind as the new year rolls in, with Reyes naming it “their number one priority.”
In 2023, GCash prevented almost 750,000 account takeovers, Reyes shared. This was reportedly thanks to the app’s new security features, which include reconfirmation before sending money and a 2-factor authentication.
“Simple UI tricks or UI interfaces like that help make sure that they're sending money to the right person,” he noted.
In the growing awareness amongst users for sustainability, GCash also has an answer.
GCash also has an answer to questions about their sustainability.
“In terms of our ESG goals, we have around 15 million GForest warriors, we've planted 2.5 million trees, around almost 11,000 hectares that we've repopulated with our efforts, and that's something that we're, again, very proud of,” Reyes shared.