There are two major mobile payment platforms in the Philippines, Globe’s GCash and Smart’s PayMaya. Smart had SmartMoney before, but somehow fizzled out. GCash, however, continued to innovate, even offering a virtual American Express (AMEX) card, as an added extra (with an annual subscription fee). Smart, however, re-branded with PayMaya, a better mobile payment platform compared to its SmartMoney.
For a while, I’ve preferred using GCash for online transactions because of the convenience and security the virtual AMEX card offers. It’s also convenient to top-up the account via BPI. No need to look for a kiosk or a merchant partner. Lastly, I get discounts when I buy prepaid load credits for my prepaid mobile internet and my kids’ prepaid SIMs.
For some reason, the convenience offered by GCash changed last year, when the AMEX online services became intermittent (you can’t get the virtual security code in time to complete a transaction). And this year, transactions on both GCash and GCash-AMEX don’t get completed, and worse, your funds become inaccessible until you dispute them.
I have used GCash for my Grab rides. Grab charges your card the moment you start requesting for a ride. When it fails and you try to request again, Grab will charge you the second time. In most cases, Grab reverts the charge after a few minutes. However, recently, Grab charges my GCash card when you make a request, and again, after you end the trip. Yes, you get charged twice for the one Grab transaction.
I made online purchases from reputable US merchants. In two instances, issues with GCash AMEX appeared. In the first instance, the merchant kept on attempting to hold the transaction amount — the trace from the SMS alerts from GCash showed a transaction getting charged, then reverted, then another attempt is done (I presume because GCash AMEX failed), twice in succession, and a reversal was done once. After the first reversal, I cancelled the transaction all together to prevent GCash AMEX from continuously deducting from my balance. However, GCash AMEX has yet to issue one last reversal. In the other instance, it is the same GCash AMEX that has yet to process the refund granted by the other US merchant. In those two transactions alone, Globe GCash AMEX owes me close to thirty thousand pesos.
Dealing with Support
My experience with GCash support is both good and bad. Good, when I get a friend to assist me. Otherwise, it is all bad. Take the case of a simple user profile completion — GCash requires you to complete your profile to access their other offerings. My user profile is complete except for the e-mail address (mind you, I am a verified user at that — via KYC). I have attempted to enter my preferred e-mail address multiple times, but it failed every time. GCash support informed me to update the iOS app (I always update iOS apps) — still no go. I even tried to delete the app, reboot the iPhone, and reinstall the app — same negative outcome. Now, GCash support is asking me to provide personal information, such as nationality, birthdate, source of income, nature of work, a selfie photo, photo of my valid ID (front and back), and even three specimens of my signature (written on a blank of paper (sic)) — just to resolve an obvious bug in their system. If this is not a red flag for the National Privacy Commission, I don’t know what is.
To be continued…
I still have active support tickets for the disputed/refund/reversal of transactions. However, I will definitely not provide any personal information beyond what is necessary just to resolve a ridiculous e-mail address profile bug in their system.