SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA–On 16 November 2023, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Fred Pascual highlighted the Philippines’ growing e-commerce sector, positioning the country among the fastest-growing in online retail during the meeting with Mastercard held at Ritz Carlton Hotel. He outlined the country’s digital payment and financial inclusion initiatives, citing potential partnerships to advance the country’s inclusive growth agenda, modern payment systems, smart cities, development and broader digitalization efforts.   

Secretary Pascual stressed, “In today’s global economic landscape, the shift towards digital payments goes beyond a mere trend; it is a strategic imperative. Adopting this transformation not only reshapes our economy but also reinforces our nation’s standing in the global market. Collaborations with industry leaders such as Mastercard play a vital role in updating our payment infrastructure and solidifying our position as a pivotal player in the digitalized economic stage.”

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Fred Pascual and Mastercard General Counsel and Head of Global Public Policy Rob Beard

The DTI chief met with Mastercard General Counsel and Head of Global Public Policy Rob Beard, who expressed keen interest in further discussions to explore opportunities for collaboration to promote digital payments and propel the inclusive growth agenda towards a future-ready Philippines. 

During the meeting, the Trade and Industry Secretary highlighted the Philippines’ aim to achieve 50% digital retail transactions and ensure that 70% of Filipino adults possess bank accounts by the end of 2023.  As such, he encouraged Mastercard to seize strategic collaborations with public and private sectors, that are mutually beneficial in realizing the targets set in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028. 

Further, the trade and industry chief recognized Mastercard’s decade-long commitment to driving the country’s financial inclusion initiatives. Additionally, he acknowledged the company’s dedication to facilitate the integration of 1 billion people and 50 million micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) into the digital economy by 2025. 

Secretary Pascual also lauded Mastercard’s continued support in ensuring financial inclusion, digital payments, and cross-border data flows, citing their critical role in driving the Philippines towards a digitally empowered economy. He cited Mastercard’s collaborations with diverse entities like financial institutions, merchants, governments, and non-governmental organizations, actively enhancing financial literacy, broadening credit access, and advocating digital inclusivity. 

Further, the DTI chief recognized Mastercard’s support to small businesses through their Simplify Commerce, a digital platform launched in 2021 through Metrobank that empowered small businesses to thrive in the digital marketplace. He added that this secured platform leveraged digital business integration by streamlining electronic payments for small and medium-sized merchants. 

Highlighting the country’s enabling policies and initiatives in digitalization, Secretary Pascual underscored, “Our commitment to advancing digital payments is a testament to our goal of promoting a science, technology and innovation (STI) driven industry that will propel our country’s economic progress and global competitiveness. Embracing this digital transformation alongside partners like Mastercard enables us to position the Philippines in the global value chain while ensuring financial inclusivity and resilience for our citizens.” ♦

Date of release: 20 November 2023