The Philippine Institute Development Studies (PIDS) has warned that digital divide in the Philippines still poses a considerable obstacle to growth.
Low computer ownership across households undermines access as costly and inefficient internet connection services aggravate the situation.
In its latest study authored by research fellow Francis Mark Quimba and research analyst Sylwyn Calizo, Jr., PIDS noted that cyber-security issues are also major risks for the Filipino population which can lead to online scam, data phishing, hacking or theft.
Amid these risks, PIDS has stressed the need to establish a strong collaborative working relationship among key actors in the digital economy and promote the use of information technology through information campaigns.
PIDS has also called for a review of laws related to digital technologies particularly the Internet, the provision of public goods and services and the implementation of the Philippine Broadband Plan.
On the positive side, the study revealed that the use of digital technology is effective in providing financial assistance and training to Filipinos.
The study focused on the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Online Program (TOP) and the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) Bank’s konek2CARD (k2C).
Funded by the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) in partnership with the PIDS, the study aims to assess the state of digital economy in the Philippines and its potential benefits and risks.
Launched by TESDA in 2012, TOP, the first massive open online courseware in the Philippines, is an open educational resource that aims to make technical education more accessible to Filipino citizens through the use of information and communications technology (ICT). It caters to students, out-of-school youths, unemployed adults, local and overseas workers, and professionals here and abroad.
As of December 2017, there are more than one million registered TOP users enrolled in its various courses, such as ICT (51%), tourism (20.7%), health (5.4%), and electronics (4.9%).
According to data cited by Quimba and Calizo, 60 percent of TOP enrolees are women. About 76.2 percent of online sessions occur in the Philippines, while 23.8 percent are done overseas. As of May 2017, 46.8 percent of enrolees have already completed their courses.
A survey by PIDS to 592 TOP registered users during the first quarter of 2018 showed that convenience (78%) and opportunity to learn at one’s own pace (71%) are the key reasons of respondents in using the online tool.
PIDS also noted that e-financing is also becoming a trend in the country. Financial institutions such as banks are slowly turning to digital technologies to improve their services and reach more clienteles.
An example is the CARD Bank’s konek2CARD (k2C), a mobile banking application, which makes use of mobile data that allow its members to do real-time financial transactions online.