Enterprise

Philippines wants to tax Netflix, Spotify to increase coronavirus relief funds

Might add 12 percent to current prices

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After two months of community lockdowns, the Philippines’s response to the pandemic remains controversial at best. At the time of publishing, the country has 14,035 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 868 deaths.

Recently, Congressman Joey Salceda, currently chairing the Committee on Ways and Means, has proposed a new tax aimed against the country’s biggest social media and entertainment platforms: Facebook, Google, Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify.

Currently, the globally recognized companies are not taxed for putting up ads for goods on online marketplaces in the Philippines. Meanwhile, other entities still pay the 12 percent value-added tax.

As reported by Reuters, the proposed tax will siphon more funds into the country’s pandemic response, including a “national broadband project and digital learning [programs].” However, the bill’s provisions are not available to the public yet.

According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the tax is against both currently untaxed advertising and services. For merchants selling goods and advertising online, “only 50 percent… pay VAT.” Further, Salceda proposes that digital advertising, especially those done by foreign companies, must course through an official country representative.

For services, Salceda suggest an additional 12-percent tax on entertainment subscriptions. However, a big question lies on who will ultimately carry the blow of the new tax. Is it the company itself or the consumers through higher subscription fees? Right now, Netflix and Spotify subscriptions are slightly lower than their American counterparts. Netflix Philippines has declined to comment.

However, as a bill is still just a bill, no one knows if and when the new tax will push through.

SEE ALSO: Netflix is raising $1 billion to create more original content

Enterprise

Facebook considering a ban on political ads

Better late than never!

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Facebook is constantly under fire for its poor advertising policies. Hundreds of advertisers are currently boycotting Facebook’s ad products since the platform has failed to take a stand against misleading political ads.

According to Bloomberg, the company is now considering a policy change and pausing political ads until the US election is over. These blackouts aren’t a new concept and are practiced all over the world, including the UK.

The social network serves as an important communication tool for politicians. However, the use of misinformation has radically increased. Platforms like Twitter have taken a stand and proceeded to label even President Trump’s tweet. On the other hand, the flow of unverified information remains unhindered on Facebook.

Furthermore, Facebook-owned apps like WhatsApp have also been responsible for the rapid spread of misinformation in countries like India. The social networking company has garnered a rather negative outlook and it has done little to reverse it so far. In fact, its reluctance to moderate politicians has also received a lot of criticism from experts.

To please the critics, the platform added an option wherein users can opt-out of political ads. But, this remains a hidden feature and most users aren’t aware of its existence. To fight misinformation and manipulation, more solid steps are needed and this could very well mean a blanket ban on political ads.

It’s widely reported that the American presidential elections were affected due to data collection and assessment by Cambridge Analytica. The company processed over 50 million users’ data via Facebook and targeted them with campaign ads to change the election outcome.

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Grab kickstarts growth of digital economy in the Philippines

Here’s how Grab can help small businesses sell more

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For almost a decade, Grab affixed itself as a staple in Filipinos’ lives. The ride-hailing app’s advent revolutionized mobility in the Philippines, making living in the metro relatively convenient.

In 2020, Grab takes things a step further, launching Small Business Booster Program. Moreover, the company partnered with the Department of Agriculture, Department of Tourism, and the Department of Trade and Industry.

Grab is aiming to support local businesses in their transition to a growing digital economy. It seeks to bridge the gap between MSMEs and consumers relying on digital-based services. Furthermore, it kickstarted initiatives that are accessible to small business owners — particularly mom-and-pops or independent, family-owned businesses.

Transitioning to digital services

“Small, independent businesses are the backbone of our economy,” according to Grab Philippines Brian Cu.

Believing that supporting government initiatives will help these businesses rejuvenate the economy amid the pandemic, the Small Business Booster Program strives to provide digital support to businesses, such as GrabMerchant.

This all-in-one platform helps business owners augment their customer base efficiently. Some features include Insights — providing analytics to a merchant’s sales, marketing campaigns, and its customers’ profile and buying behavior.

There’s also an ads creation tool, which allows merchant-partners to create their own advertisements and track performance in Grab’s platform.

GrabMerchant is available to existing Grab merchant-partners as an app. A web portal is already in the works, which will roll out by the end of August 2020. Currently, there are over 78,000 merchant-partners onboarded in the Grab app across Southeast Asia.

In the Philippines, Grab recorded almost 12,000 merchants between March and June 2020, with small businesses seeing at least 57 percent growth in their online revenues. Interested merchants can sign up through this link.

Photo by Grab Philippines

Free, personalized ads

Aside from GrabMerchant’s Ads creation tool, Grab is committed to supporting Filipino merchants with advertising solutions. Most merchant-partners saw up to 300 percent return on ad spend, after placing an ad on GrabFood’s homepage.

Through its “Homegrown Heroes” initiative, Grab will create personalized ads for over 1,000 merchant-partners, featuring their businesses for five weeks on the most prominent spaces within the app. Costs and resources required to produce materials will be covered by Grab.

An easy way to receive payments

If you’re a social seller, take advantage of Grab’s Offline to Online (O2O) Merchant Support Program. Businesses with no online presence can set up their online stores, and utilize an integrated GrabPay checkout for virtual payments through a landing page on Grab.com.

Since the lockdown, people turned to social selling for sustenance. However, online selling plies with tricky payment methods. Grab aims to ease purchasing and receiving payments through its Remote GrabPay link solution, where sellers can hand out URLs to their customers.

These links will allow customers to make direct payments from their GrabPay Wallet, which sellers receive easily. Access the service through this link.

Connecting rural entrepreneurs

Grab is also leveraging its leadership in technology and innovation to help expand livelihood opportunities to Filipino farmers across the country.

It has been actively working with local governments in helping traditional ecosystems maintain their presence in a growing digital economy. Together with the Department of Agriculture’s Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita program and the Department of Tourism’s Philippine Harvest Initiative, Grab seeks to create an avenue for Filipino farmers to earn through the Grab platform. More importantly, their fresh produce will be delivered to customers across Metro Manila.

To learn more about Grab’s response in the COVID-19 impact, check their social report, Grab for Good through this link.

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Enterprise

Facebook, to boycotters: ‘You’ll be back’

They won’t change any policies

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Between piling privacy issues and moderation controversies, Facebook is facing a reckoning. The company’s own employees have already started to revolt against Mark Zuckerberg’s stances on current issues. Externally, Zuckerberg is also under fire from its huge slate of advertisers. Since last week, the world’s biggest brands have started pulling out of the platform’s advertising opportunities. The list includes Starbucks, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, PlayStation, and counting.

As the boycott gains momentum, the ball is on Zuckerberg’s court. Unfortunately, based on a leaked transcript of an internal meeting obtained by The Information, the Facebook boss has no intentions of taking the boycott seriously.

According to Zuckerberg, Facebook will not change any internal policies or strategies “because of a threat to a small percent of [their] revenue.” He assures the company that the boycotting brands don’t make a dent on their bottom line. True enough, Facebook’s revenue stream relies mostly on advertising, wherein millions of companies post ads on the platform.

Further, Zuckerberg claims that “these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough.” Though ballsy, his statements echo an odd strategy to downplay the effects of the boycott. If anything, he also plans to meet with boycotting brands to develop a compromise for the situation. Of course, whatever the compromise will be, it won’t change anything substantial in the company’s overall policies.

Whether you believe in Zuckerberg’s braggadocio or not, screaming “you’ll be back” at dissatisfied customers is an ill-advised practice in public relations. As of now, the boycott is still full steam ahead. Only time will tell if more advertisers will join the battle.

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