Computing finances

There are two facets to brand loyalty — it’s good for businesses that have already established a regular base of returning customers; however, when competition wants a slice of the pie, there lies the challenge in wooing customers away from the incumbent, and convincing loyal customers to switch.

For Filipino consumers, choosing a brand is mostly based on convenience and trust, says Quentin Bouche, Co-founder and Vice President, MoneyMax.PH, an online service that provides comparison shopping for brands that include financial services, broadband and insurance.

While there are quite a few major deal and discount sites in the country and the region, they cater mostly to one-time purchases of goods and services. But what about big-ticket expenses such as a housing loan or car loan? Or how about a two-year commitment for a broadband service provider? Here’s where Bouche wants to help. The recently-launched site aims to provide Filipinos an easy way to compare across these services, thereby saving money and gaining an advantage in the process.

Bouche says the Philippines is an interesting mix of new and old, with a great deal of technological advancements against a more traditional financial services backdrop. “It is the number one country in Southeast Asia in terms of social networking and mobile penetration, and number two after Indonesia in terms of real internet users,” he shares with e27, adding, “At the same time, banking and finance remain very conventional.”

e27 sought more of Bouche’s insights into the Filipino consumer’s psyche, and the financial services expert was quick to oblige. He quips, however, that MoneyMax.PH is not in the business of giving advice on investment strategy. Rather, the vision is to “help Filipinos save time and money”.

What are the marked characteristics of Filipinos when it comes to brand loyalty? Are there particular trends that one can look out for when considering this market?

Quentin Bouche, Co-founder and Vice President, MoneyMax.PH

Quentin Bouche, Co-founder and Vice President, MoneyMax.PH

The essence of what we do is to facilitate people’s access to financial products and to save them time and money in just a few minutes. Right now in the Philippines, people primarily select and choose their products based on convenience and trust. The selection they make is often not the best that is available in the market. We can help those people acquire the best product in the most convenient way. We can enhance competition in the markets and thus allow the more strategic players to compete with the more established ones.

Do you think we are becoming too attached to our devices and technologies? How much should we spend for communication tools such as smartphones, tablets, broadband, computers, and the like?
Ensuring that we do not over spend essentially comes from the ability to research the right product for a given need at a certain point in time and to compare that to other products that are available in the market. At present in SEA and especially in the Philippines, this is only really possible for certain household products through the internet or in shops. However, this does not exist for financial products and telecom products, and this is the bridge that we are trying to fill with MoneyMax.

The question is, therefore, not so much about whether we are becoming too attached to technologies, I believe this is the society we live in anyway. We live in a mobile society surrounded by technologies and change. If we have decided to make the purchase and to go through the process, the question should be “what is the best deal available out there for me given my particular need?”

What do you think are the defining qualities of Filipinos when it comes to finances? Are there any good things in particular? How about disadvantages or characteristics that we should try to cut or discontinue?
Filipinos are very loyal customers — they primarily rely on brands they know or referrals. This obviously sets a wide range of challenges for new providers in the market. The more established brands do not suffer from high turnover, meaning they can afford offering products which are not the most competitive and still retain their customer base. I very much believe Filipinos should not feel pressured into relying only on what they know. For instance, purchasing from an established brand which they have not used before, but which provides them with a better service at a cheaper rate is a no brainer.

Give us three ways by which we can end (or address) poverty in the country, in our own little ways.
As one of the most famous brand in the UK says: ‘”Every little helps”. I very much believe in this principle as a way of living. Poverty also comes from the inability to choose or to select. Every Filipino out there should seek to make the most out of their earnings. This does not mean spending it all out on the cheapest products. This means spending rationally on the products that they really need. Buying the best telecom deal or acquiring the cheapest auto insurance will give them the flexibility to spend on items they would not spend money on otherwise.

As a result, the three ways I would recommend through which we could address poverty, all revolve around making wise purchase decisions:

  1. Research the market
  2. Compare products
  3. Make smart decisions on selecting products and services to purchase

In conclusion, what Bouche wants to impart is for consumers to be smart in purchases. What is cheap may not necessarily offer the best value. Comparison is the best way to determine that you’re getting the better end of the bargain.

Featured image credits: Pen and notebook / Shutterstock