Finance officials led by Secretary Carlos Dominguez III will meet with Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma in Hangzhou, China on Feb. 1 to explore innovations in digital commerce that will help fuel the growth of the Philippines’ micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and help attain the Duterte administration’s goal of financial inclusion.
Ahead of this meeting, Dominguez and a Philippine delegation of finance and central bank officials, upon Ma’s invitation, are also scheduled to visit Alibaba Business School, an institution focusing on implementing Alibaba Group’s e-commerce training system, and take part in a lecture series from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 designed to gain a wider understanding of an ecommerce ecosystem including the digital technologies that can be employed to improve the Philippines’ nascent online payment system.
The Alibaba Business School is located next to the Alibaba head office in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province in east China. It is an institute jointly established by Hangzhou Normal University of China and Alibaba Group in October 2008, whose key focus is to enable the growth of small medium enterprises (SMEs) by giving them comprehensive learning opportunities in the digital economy.
“We will look at the financial regulations in China and explore how we can tap digital technologies to empower our MSMEs, especially those in the countryside, the same way that Jack Ma did to help small enterprises in China gain a foothold in the global e-commerce industry,” Dominguez said.
According to the Alibaba Business School, the three-day New Economy Workshop organized by Alibaba and tailor-fit to the Philippine setting “will incorporate firsthand experience with real-life e-commerce applications in an effort to provide a framework for creating a regulatory environment that encourages growth across the fintech (financial technology), logistics, e-commerce and big data industries.”
Dominguez and Ma met briefly last November in Manila when the Chinese technology entrepreneur paid a courtesy call to President Duterte in Malacañan Palace. Ma invited Dominguez to visit China to hold more extensive discussions on how to ensure an “enabling financial regulatory environment” for e-commerce growth in the Philippines, with MSMEs as the primary beneficiaries.
The Duterte administration aims to put in place a secure, seamless and efficient digital payment system in the country to make it financially inclusive, enabling Filipinos to sell and buy online and easily tap credit facilities even with limited loan histories, Dominguez said.
Alibaba’s three-day workshop focuses on expanding knowledge and demonstrating real life e-commerce applications to help attain this goal. The workshop lectures include topics on e-commerce development in China, inclusive finance through digital technologies; rural e-commerce development, and smart logistics in the digital economy.
Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba Group, will also include a lecture on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for smart traffic management, which could become a useful tool to help ease congestion in Metro Manila’s major thoroughfares.
Among the speakers scheduled to deliver lectures are Prof. Xiaobo Wu, an economist and former dean of the Zheijiang University School of Management; Dr. Long Chen, the chief strategy officer of the Ant Financial Group, the operator of Alipay and a related company of Alibaba Group; Bill Wang, head of the All-Countryside Business Unit and vice president of the Alibaba Group; Wanli Min, senior director of Alibaba Cloud; Bhushan Patil, president of the India-based e-tailer Paytm; and Guan Xiaodong, head of Cainiao Network International Business.
In the Philippines, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), along with industry stakeholders, jointly launched the National Retail Payment System in December 2015 to create a safe, efficient and reliable electronic retail payment system in the country.
In March 2017, the BSP came up with two electronic fund transfer payment schemes–the (1) Instapay, which caters to MSMEs, and (2) PESO Net, which supports the bulk payment transactions of large companies.
Ma, whose company’s vision is to make it easy to do business anywhere for SMEs around the world, told Dominguez during their 2017 meeting in Manila that he wants to help develop the digital market in the Philippines to create a cashless society and connect the country’s e-commerce markets to other markets in Europe, China and other countries across the globe.
Ma said he wants to assist developing countries like the Philippines in building their digital technologies so that even small enterprises can benefit from globalization.
“The Philippines has the best service and has the heart to become key players in the industry,” Ma said.
Alibaba’s B2B platform Alibaba.com has provided millions of small businesses an e-commerce gateway in which to sell their products across the globe. The company’s B2C platform Tmall Global also enables businesses around the world to sell directly to China’s swelling middle-class with minimal trade barriers such as fast track customs clearance.
Alibaba’s ecosystem is estimated to have indirectly created over 30 million job opportunities in China, with many disabled sellers on the Alibaba trading platforms.
Tens of millions of consumers who previously have no or very limited loan histories now have credit ratings provided by Alibaba Group’s related company Ant Financial, which help them gain access to online consumer credit loans and enjoy deposit waiver when staying at hotels or renting a car.