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Country overview: Philippines

Growth through innovation

This is the fifth in our country overview series (following Sri Lanka, Peru, Nigeria and Bangladesh), in which we take a deep dive into the mobile market of the Philippines, and a closer look at the innovation ecosystem taking shape there.

The Philippines has become one of the fastest growing economies and mobile markets in Asia, and with its high level of consumer engagement in mobile and technology, the country has come to differentiate itself from other fast growing peers in Asia, particularly in the area of innovation.

In this report, we analyse the factors behind the transformation of the Philippines into an innovation hotbed in South East Asia, in many ways presenting a model from which other countries can glean insights for catalysing their own innovation ecosystems. The Philippines has an advanced mobile market when compared to countries with similar income per capita levels. Combined with a youthful, literate population, a large proportion of English speakers, a rapidly improving economy and increasing foreign VC investment, this has created a unique environment for the development of innovative mobile products and services. Operator competition and the increasing presence of internet players provide added impetus for the operators to innovate to maintain relevance and mindshare with consumers, and to develop new revenue streams. Of key focus are the innovative mobile solutions helping to provide underdeveloped, underserved and poverty stricken regions with the opportunity to overcome socio-economic challenges, particularly in the areas of financial inclusion, education and the ability to pre-empt, respond and assist with recovery from natural disasters.

This innovation ecosystem not only presents the Philippines with an opportunity to enhance its standing in the adoption of digital technology and services amongst regional and global peers, but also to improve the lives of the underserved population. Narrowing the digital divide between advanced urban cities and outlying rural regions is of key importance over the next 2-3 years. We believe multi-stakeholder collaboration between industry, investors and policy makers focused on releasing low frequency spectrum to expand mobile broadband coverage, developing new regional innovation centres, and driving improvements in local customer understanding are the key influencing factors in effecting this change.

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