Unlike in countries like Singapore and Hong Kong, where cashless transactions are already the norm, credit card purchases in the Philippines are still the exception rather than the rule.
This is one of the reasons why online commerce hasn't really taken off here. Most Filipinos, I guess, are still not comfortable paying via the Internet or are simply turned-off by the high cost of maintaining a credit card.
This aversion to online purchasing appears to have extended to online banking, which is rather unfortunate since this service facility is probably the best that high-tech banking has to offer.
It's sad because people seem to confuse online banking with online commerce. What most don't realize is that online banking is just like using the ATM--only that it's on the Internet. In fact, one can do online banking without even owning a single credit card.
But instead of taking advantage of it, consumers are ignoring this extra technology tool that banks provide--for free.
I've been using the online banking service offered by Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) for about a year now, and I can't help but ridicule myself for not using it much earlier.
I now pay all my bills online, including transferring funds to my landlady's bank account for our rental payment. This means I no longer have to deal with the constant breakdown of the ATM near our place, or put up with the long queues at the bank.
Another plus which I find very convenient, is its ability to summarize all my transactions in a click of a button. There's just a slight problem I encountered while using this feature: the statement period seems to be fixed to 60 days even if you've selected a specific timeframe.
But other than this minor trouble, I'd say that my online banking experience has been truly satisfying. I particularly like the fact that digital receipts are sent straight to my e-mail inbox.
My favorable experience with BPI led me to try out the online banking facility of my other bank, Metrobank. I initially thought Metrobank, being the country's largest bank, would have the goods to match, if not surpass, the service that its rival offers to its clients.
But, it's sadly not the case. Unlike BPI, which allows its customers to avail of its online banking service almost without human intervention, Metrobank required me fill out a form at a branch where they asked me to provide my e-mail address so that they could send my password.
I gave them my e-mail, twice, but nothing has arrived since my last two trips to the branch in the last three or four months.
That got me thinking: why do they have to manually send my password when I can just go to their Web site and request for a password. Right?