Living with credit, New products

Citi allows text-happy Filipinos to charge by phone

Jeremy Simon

Filipinos love their text messages, which is exactly why credit card issuer Citi decided the Philippines was the ideal place to introduce the bank’s new mobile phone banking. As of last Friday, Filipino cardholders can make credit card charges via text message or phone call.

“Citibank, the world’s largest credit card issuer, could have launched this product anywhere else in the world. But country business manager Mark Jones said Citi Mobile was introduced first in the Philippines because of Filipinos’ penchant to send an average of 12 to 15 text messages per day,” says

Citi says that out of the one billion mobile phone service subscribers worldwide last year, 53 million lived in the Philippines. “Filipinos sent 1.5 trillion messages in 2007, more than half the 2.3 trillion text messages sent globally on the same year,” says. Evidently, Filipinos really like to text.

Citi’s Jones tells Comtex that his company’s more than one million cardholders are now able to charge payments on gift purchases to their Citi credit cards via their cellphones.

As for security, Citi cardholders will need to have their cellphone on hand in addition to a PIN number in order to make transactions. At present, only three merchants, including McDonald’s, accept the Filipino cellphone credit card payments.

In addition to allowing credit card charges using a text or phone call, the service will also enable Filipino ex-pats to reload their mobile phones from abroad, send phone credits to their family members and deliver flowers or cakes using their cellphones, all the while racking up reward points.

According to data from Javelin Research & Strategy cited in an earlier look at contactless payments, the number of contactless devices in the United States could expand to 57 million by 2013. That increase would require a surge in popularity for mobile devices enabled with contactless abilities. Otherwise, contactless payment growth will remain flat.

“No one has ever really introduced something like this, where you can charge something to your credit card just by texting or calling a merchant,” Citi Philippines eConsumer Business Director Cecille Fonancier tells With mobile banking yet to take off globally, Citi will be keeping tabs on how its groundbreaking cellphone initiative is received.

See related: Contactless credit cards ‘floundering’


Happy belated Independence Day! In celebration of the Fourth of July, Mighty Bargain Hunter put together an interesting historical look at the U.S. flag along with a collection of highlights from the blogosphere for the latest Carnival of Personal Finance: the American Flag Edition. Among the blog entries chosen was my post “Visa changes aim to ease gas pain.”

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  • Ted S

    Citibank has some math problems in what they provided to Jeremy. This is not something I like to see from my bank! says filipinos create 1,500,000,000,000 text messages annually, for a (phone) population of 53,000,000. That is 28,302 text messages per person in one year, or 78 phone messages per person, per day.
    That is crazy, there may be a few people doing that, but every phone, every day! I don’t think so. The 78 doesn’t even track with the 12 to 15 per day mentioned in the article. Bad math somewhere.

  • K d

    Filipinos are actually sending lots of text messages/ day. Those78 messages/day are possible because they tend to send messages through group messsaging. Thus, they have unlimited text messaging too.

  • sweetgiftsphilippines

    Yup lot of filipino love to text, but even me i love to txt it doesnt mean that i will use credit cards…


    im a college student and i want to aply for a credit a days many are been using credit cards and it would be easy for me if a have my own.thank you