Current global events are providing an even greater impetus to the already growing fintech market. As economies the world over try to figure out how to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become imperative that financing and cash flow solutions are available to enterprises to try to alleviate any pain they are feeling during the crisis.
In recent times, fintech startups in Southeast Asia have cashed in on the increased movement to a more streamlined and secure financial industry, and have developed at a rapid pace, especially in the Philippines. Considered one of the best cities in the world for fintech startups, Manila is at the epicentre of the industry in the country. Using its advantages of having a western-orientated business ecosystem and robust English-speaking culture, the Philippines is a natural fit for the growth of fintech.
With over 15% of Manila’s startups focusing on fintech, the country had an established industry worth around $5.7 billion USD in 2018. Expectations, pre-COVID-19, were that the fintech startups in the Philippines would add $10.5 billion USD to the country’s coffers by 2022.
This figure may have to be modified somewhat in light of the current situation, but its key players will expect to continue on this path. We take a look at some of the emerging players helping build the Philippines into a fintech hub.
With approximately 70% of the population of the Philippines un- or under-banked, TONIK has earmarked 2020 as the year to change this and bring the country into the digital banking world. The fintech company’s mission is to help bring the “…US$140 billion retail deposit and US$100 billion unsecured retail lending opportunities…” in from the cold with a digital-only banking system.
To help them achieve this, TONIK has recently secured $6 million USD in equity funding through VC investors Insignia Ventures Partners and Credence Partners. Taking on the issues facing those banking in traditional ways, TONIK is aiming to help people have quick, easy access to their money and short-term loans all through a simple app.
With a focus on the maritime industry, MarCoPay hopes to make payments and money transfers simpler for over 220,000 Filipinos who make their money on the seven seas. A subsidiary of Japanese shipping firm NYK, the platform was developed initially for its employees. It allows the bursar to make payments to the staff electronically and enables the seafarer to transfer money to his or her family back home with ease.
Now NYK has opened the platform to other companies and operates through a smartphone app and the use of QR codes. With around 1.6 million sailors around the world, this app has a ready-made audience.
Developing a new eWallet in a country with so many unbanked people may seem a tall order, but it is one that PhonePera strives to fulfil. Using industry knowledge and technology, they have deployed in other projects such as its sister firm AiPayGo, PhonePera is bringing easy bill payments, transfers and cross-currency transactions to the lower socio-economic sectors of the country.
One of its most key objectives is to aid the movement of money between Filipinos working in other parts of the world and their families at home with secure and straightforward transfers in any currency.
Financing and managing cash flow is an essential part of all commercial entities. If you are a small or medium enterprise (SME) in the Philippines, accessing loans or short-term financing arrangements can be almost impossible. Traditional banking in the country is reluctant to lend without strict criteria in place, making it a challenge for some businesses to find the funding they need. Enter SeekCap: a platform bridging the gap between banks and SMEs. Affiliated with one of the country’s biggest banks, UnionBank, SeekCap takes the hassle and stress out of finding a loan suitable to help businesses thrive or expand.
Using cloud technology to operate core banking solutions (CBS), eWallets and agent banking solutions (ABS) is allowing PearlPay to provide banking services to the rural communities in the Philippines. Intending to open up the world of online finance to the more remote parts of the country is driving PearlPay to create technology that can reach even those with limited or no access to internet banking.
The company’s unified payment network helps banks open up their offerings to a wider community and help users to access financial services with ease.
As these five pioneers continue to push the envelope in their sector, they will spur on further growth of fintech startups in the Philippines. With an overall surge in the number of fintech startups in Southeast Asia, the Philippines might just be a country to watch as it speedily transforms the lives of its population with digital banking solutions and more.