More than 70% of the Philippines and SE Asia are still unbanked with the vast majority only earning about 5000 pesos ($100 USD) per month. More importantly, with the current Covid-19 Pandemic, the unemployment rate is at a record high of 17% with over 7 million recently affected by lost wages. While many businesses are focused on FinTech and access to financial services as the path to digital inclusion, the Mad Underground (MU) focuses on helping Filipinos earn income through digital livelihood.
MU Founder, and Group CEO Aaron D. Madolora, also served as Voyager Innovations and PayMaya Philippines’ Chief Innovation and Product Officer and helped pioneer and shape the FinTech industry in SE Asia. However, despite the success and adoption of e-money, he believed the problem was not that people needed a wallet, or much less, an e-wallet, but rather they lacked the means to fill their existing wallets. “If we want to achieve sustainable digital and financial inclusion, then our purpose should be to create electronic income opportunities. Our goal is to provide digital jobs to 1M Filipinos by 2021 through our unified livelihood as a service platform,” Aaron impresses.
Providing Income Source
With that said, the company’s aim is to build and enable an e-wage ecosystem. To do so, first and foremost, they look at the customer needs and how it aligns to the market pulse. Since e-commerce, financial services, and mobile gaming are on the leading edge, MU created innovative ways to augment and enhance consumer- merchant experiences while at the same time providing its users with additional salary to support their families. Incidentally, the MU team has spent the last two decades developing impactful technologies. The key to successfully implementing any change is understanding the inherent added value. “Companies don’t need to adopt every new trend, or axiom. At MU, we call this initiative, “Innovations That Matter,” which means, concentrate on improving your core competencies and staying true to your mission,” says Aaron. “At present, we are using artificial intelligence (AI), next-generation distributed ledgers, message streaming, and graphQL combined with open banking interfaces to develop and support more inclusive digital services for freelancers and entrepreneurs.”
As the intrepid leader describes, “We live in a time where online livelihood is more commonplace; users can earn a living as a ride share driver, or virtual shopper, but not until MU, had there been a centralized engine to power these applications.” Having a unified digital income framework allows e-wage earners with non-traditional jobs to choose how they make, save, and spend their money without the headaches of managing multiple accounts, apps, and tax forms from separate employers. MU’s livelihood as a service platform is an ecosystem enabler and force multiplier because it not only creates job opportunities but bridges the divide between online and offline businesses. They provide micro SMEs from street vendors to farmers with ways to quickly digitize their businesses and expand their market reach. As Aaron articulates,“in the traditional supply and logistics approach, for every dollar a consumer spends on fresh produce, a farmer receives only 10 cents, but with our revolutionary farm to table methodology, the farmer can earn 60 cents on the dollar.”
Building for the Future
One of the first livelihood products MU developed was an affiliate marketing meets drop shipping concept conceived by Resellee’s Chairman, and CEO, Marc Concio, in partnership with 7-Eleven where users can earn commissions by buying and selling products online without having to first buy inventory. Within a few weeks of its launch, Resellee, the official livelihood app of the Philippines’ Department of Social Welfare and Development, was helping hundreds of thousands of Filipinos to earn income online. “Our use of AI, for example, in our Flash Share service allows resellers to make a sale within minutes of sharing a product link while at the same time ensuring consumers get products they love, at the lowest prices,” explains Chief Developer, Paolo Alcabaza.
Gift3d, MU’s most recently launched product, is a livelihood community for arts and advocacy, which with the efforts of co-Founders, Isis Umali and Pau Driz, showcases exceptional Filipino creators on a global stage. Unlike other artist-centric platforms, at the heart of Gift3d are the stories and struggles of the innately talented and how their abilities inspire and save lives. One of Gift3d’s artists is currently battling cancer; her paintings and sketches are extraordinary. The sale of her ‘heart work’ not only helps pay for her treatments, but countless others to fight their own battles both emotionally and financially.
Although, MU is currently focused on the Philippines, they have already established strategic partnerships to expand their model internationally. “We love working with like-hearted teams who share our passion to enrich and uplift lives,” adds Aaron. In fact, later this year, together with ADA Holdings, Inc., MU will launch BuyaniPH, TaranaPH, and Kadiwa Health along with 4 more livelihood applications, all connected by Zeny, their embeddable, e-wage wallet that helps users easily consolidate, grow, and spend their online earnings.