Fintech Festival highlights need for upskilling in ‘traditional industries’

Even “traditional industries” like accountancy have to upgrade their digital know-how, said panelists at the first Philippine FinTech Festival organized by Digital Pilipinas, a private sector movement that advocates technological adoption. 

“Even in what is thought of as traditional areas, we need to upskill them to be more technology-oriented,” said Emmanuel “Noel” P. Bonoan, Chief Operating Officer and vice chair of KPMG Philippines at an Oct. 18 press conference. 

The accounting and auditing firm is working with schools to “create super accountants … who are practically software engineers,” he added. 

“We know that the next frontier for accountancy is not [in] counting, but in accountants who are savvy in analytics, accountants who know how to use blockchain, accountants who know how to program bots to do financial transactions,” said Mr. Bonoan.  

Insurance company Etiqa Philippines likewise wants to be deliberate in “tech-ing up” the industry, said president and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rico T. Bautista.  

“We want to use technology in reaching out to more of our target market,” he said. “In the era of Web 3.0, Open Finance, and soon-to-be Open Insurance, we need to be aware of the trends that we are seeing that can help us capture the target markets we have identified.”   

Jimmy Kyle Siy, director of customer success of financial software provider Brankas, noted that Singapore and Indonesia have already linked their respective fast payment systems (PayNow and UPI) to enable low-cost fund transfers.  

“The more seamless transactions are between ASEAN countries, the more trade between its member countries are encouraged,” he said. “We need to work with the respective governments to make sure we are fully compliant to the various monetary policies of each,” Mr. Siy said.  

Meanwhile, George Royeca, CEO of ride-hailing and package delivery platform Angkas, said that technology can empower the masses. 

“Imagine if we can extend this to the 18 million motorcycle riders who all [come from] low-income households?” he asked. “That is our next goal and how we will use digitalization.” 

He added that events like the Fintech Festival expose Angkas riders to regional products and services that offer better rates and plans. These innovations, he said, “will give the most positive effect to those that need it, which is my sector: the masa. That’s basically why I’m here, why Angkas is here.”  

The Philippine FinTech Festival kicks off the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) FinTech Festival, which brings together innovators, entrepreneurs, and policymakers. It opened in the Philippines on Oct. 17 and will run until Oct. 21. The event then moves to Cambodia (Oct. 24–26), Thailand (Oct. 27–29), Singapore (Nov. 2–4), and Indonesia (Nov. 10–12). — Patricia B. Mirasol