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Philippines seeks Jack Ma's help on building digital financial system

(Bloomberg) -- The Philippines has invited Jack Ma and his Alibaba Group to partner with President Rodrigo Duterte in helping to improve technology for governance and to assist in building an inclusive financial system that would aid small businesses, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said.

Ma, in a meeting with Philippine government officials in Hangzhou on Feb. 1, said the Philippines had huge potential to embrace the technology revolution because e-commerce was specifically designed for developing economies, according to a statement from the Philippine finance department.

Dominguez said Duterte was impressed with Ma when they met in Manila in November, and the Philippine leader issued instructions to pursue discussions with the technology entrepreneur to find common areas that Alibaba and the Philippine government could pursue together.

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Jack Ma, billionaire and chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., gestures as he speaks during the Special Conversation at the Global Engagement & Empowerment Forum on Sustainable Development (GEEF) in Seoul, South Korea, on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. Alibaba has agreed to buy a stake in Dalian Wanda Group Co.'s cinema operator as billionaire Wang Jianlin's real estate-to-entertainment conglomerate turns to another Chinese tech giant and a government-backed company for investments totaling about 7.8 billion yuan ($1.2 billion). Photographer: Jean Chung/Bloomberg

“I will report to the president that there are many elements here that we could use in the Philippines,” said Dominguez, who was with key government officials at Alibaba Business School’s Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 new economy workshop.

The insight from the training would help the Duterte administration understand how to optimize the use of technology to improve governance and prepare Filipinos for the future under a digital economy, Dominguez said. Among issues discussed was how cloud computing and big data platforms could be applied -- from improving traffic flow and law enforcement to managing financial risks and heightening cybersecurity measures, he said.

Dominguez said a closer relationship between the Philippine government and Alibaba is among the ways of further cementing bilateral ties between the Philippines and China.