Note: This article was first posted on Technobiography in August 2004

Smart Padala is a remittance service that takes advantage of Smart existing Smart Money service and Smart’s tie-up with McDonald’s.

A remittance begins with an OFW going to a Smart Padala remittance station abroad (basically, existing remittance offices affiliated with Smart). Then the recepient in the Philippines is informed of the remittance via cellphone. The remittance is supposedly instantly available in the recepients (virtual) Smart Money cash card.

There are two ways to encash this money.

  1. If the recepient has an existing Smart Money card, he/she can withdraw the money at BancNet and ExpressNet ATMs.
  2. If the recepient does not have a Smart Money card, the remitted money is loaded in the recepient’s virtual Smart Money card. To encash the remittance, the recepient goes to a nearby McDonalds. There, the recepient transfers the e-money from his/her Smart Money card to the local McDo’s account. Once transferred, McDo will turn-over cash (finally!) to the recepient.

Charges:

  • If remittance is withdrawn at an ATM, there are transaction charges ranging from P8-15 depending on the ATM. Furthermore, each bank has a maximum withdrawal limit.
  • If remittance is encashed at McDo, there’s a service charge of P1 for every P100 encashed.

What appears to me as rather variable is the amount charged to the OFW by the remittance center abroad. I think the charges aren’t being published in the press releases and flyers because it probably varies depending on the remittance center.

Now, what we should find out is how the service compares to Western Union and to the mom-n-pop Filipino-store remittance services abroad.

I’m quite sure delivery is faster with Smart Padala. They have a line in their print ad saying their padala is “sing-bilis ng text”. Conceivable. I was able to manually deliver remittances via Smart Money within 5-minutes, I’m sure Smart could do it automatically with the speed of text.

What Smart Padala needs to contend with is whether the regular Filipino subscriber will accept this new way of sending and receiving remittances. Smart will have to show OFWs and OFW families that the service is reliable, cheaper, convenient and/or easy enough to use.

If so, Smart has done good service to the Filipino people, especially OFWs and their families. I wonder if Western Union will roll back their remittance charges. Let’s see…

(Call Smart Padala hotline +632-845-7788; *7788 using a Smart Cellphone; 1-800-10-845-7788)

– Edwin
p.s. Smart Padala posters feature Robin Padilla in fighting form with boxing fabrics wrapped around his fists. I still can’t comprehend the wisdom of the choice of endorser. Mas-gaganahan ka bang mag-remit kung makita mong pawisan si Robin Padilla sa Smart Padala poster? I still need to see the TV ad, then maybe I’l get the punchline.

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