‘Far First Ahead’: Globe’s Pivot from Telco to Techco All about Finding the Big Problems and Solving Them at Scale
Leading digital solutions platform Globe is accelerating its pivot from a traditional telecommunications company to a full-fledged tech enterprise, always on the lookout for the next big problem to solve towards digital enablement and transformation.
In an interview with WINWIN on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Globe Group President and CEO Ernest Cu talked about the company’s purpose-driven approach to empowering people through digitalization.
Globe's shift from telco to techco began when it became the number one mobile operator in the country in 2016. This success prompted the organization to expand its vision and place greater emphasis on digital solutions.
“What we decided to do was shift our focus to become a purpose-led company. And being purpose-led means going beyond just winning the telco game. It is helping our countrymen live their daily lives and helping the country improve its stature in the world,” Cu said.
To start the journey, Globe decided to face the problem of financial inclusion head-on by partnering with Ant Financial in 2017 to relaunch GCash, which has now grown into the country’s leading e-wallet platform with over 76 million users.
GCash helped address the issue of access to financial services, given that most Filipinos were unbanked at the time and only about 3.5 million had credit cards. The situation had made the process of digital payments and giving credit scores very difficult. But GCash turned this around.
“In the end, 8 of 10 Filipinos now have access to financial services. They can transfer electronically, they can pay digitally, they can borrow money using a credit score that we’ve been refining all these years,” Cu said.
Cu said the Globe Group is constantly looking for the next major problem to solve through innovative services that can scale or has a big addressable market. It also wants to be the first mover in the digital solutions space.
“We don’t want to be entering the space and competing with the giants out there. We want to be the giant when we do succeed. So we’re focusing on healthcare, education, providing livelihood, and even sustainability,” he said.
Globe still faces challenges as it transitions into a full-fledged digital solutions platform, including getting customers and regulators up to speed.
“Filipinos tend to look at new applications, new ways of doing things, with a little bit of mistrust, so we got to build their trust,” he said. “The second is the regulators. We are now pushing the envelope in terms of the things that we want to do. And so sometimes they are still mired in the old way of doing things, and it takes us quite a bit of time to convince them to see this is really good for our country.”
Globe continues to dominate the mobile segment with over 86.7 million customers nationwide. Its telco business has served as its unfair advantage in its expansion, enabling it to leverage these assets to build new businesses. In this space, Globe is “far first ahead” from competitors, said Cu.
The company has ventured into digital marketing solutions, venture capital funding startups, virtual healthcare, e-commerce, business outsourcing, adtech, edutech, media, and entertainment, among others.
“This (transformation) is not happening overnight. It's not about deciding to do this one year and the next year we're done. It has been a 14-year journey which I started when I joined Globe. We will continue to do this, and hopefully, with the support of our government and our partners, we will bring about a better life for our country,” Cu concluded.