Jum Balea

Staff Writer • SEA Edition

Jum is a Manila-based reporter for The Ken, where she covers startups and business across Southeast Asia, with a focus on the Philippines. She previously was editor for Tech In Asia, and business editor for Philippine media companies Rappler and ABS-CBN.

33 Articles published

Top Comments by Jum Balea

Philippines rides the Covid wave to a cashless goal

Thanks for reading, Venkatesh! We don't have the data for other Southeast Asia markets at the moment, but credit card penetration has also been low in Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. The decline in the Philippines, as the central bank suggests, is because of the emergence of alternative payment methods like e-wallets. It's uncertain if the decline is indeed a trend, but that's definitely something to closely watch in the coming years. After all, digital banks will be able to issue credit cards as well, and with their potential massive reach compared to physical banks, more Filipinos will get access to cards. The card companies (Visa and MasterCard) are also catching up with the fintech craze, so certainly not the end for the card schemes. However, I'd have to say that stringent bank requirements for credit card approval is also one reason for the low penetration in the Philippines.

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Best fruit forward: Grab, Zalora and the lockdown pivot to grocery

Thanks for reading, Rahul! Good question. I earlier reached out to the players to get some numbers, but still waiting to hear from them (and frankly, they may never give us numbers). Grab per se said it’s too early to talk about unit economics because 1) service just launched 2) revenue & costs are fluctuating a lot during this time. In the long term, analysts expect order sizes and # of transactions to increase, which should give players a boost, but improvement in unit economics will ultimately depend on how big the numbers are. Also, with more players joining the fray (before we had just 1-3 players in each market), you’d expect competition to intensify, which should have an impact on marketing spend.

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