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Technology

Bonds.PH app makes bond investing easy for unbanked

Union Bank of the Philippines President and CEO Edwin R. Bautista says the Bonds.PH mobile app will benefit every Filipino.
Union Bank of the Philippines President and CEO Edwin R. Bautista says the Bonds.PH mobile app will benefit every Filipino.

Have you ever thought of investing in retail treasury bonds? Now the Bonds.PH mobile app makes it easy for every Filipino, even the unbanked, to do so for as low as US$100.

The Philippine Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) is the first in Asia to launch an app for the distribution of retail treasury bonds enabled by Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT).

“The launch of Bonds.PH paves the way for all Filipinos, particularly the unbanked, to easily and affordably invest in the BTr’s newest retail treasury bond, RTB-24 or the Progreso Bonds. The mobile app presents a compelling opportunity for all to invest and help the Republic raise funds for economic recovery and COVID-19 response,” Philippine National Treasurer Rosalia V. De Leon said in a press statement.

The launch was made possible in partnership with Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) and Philippine Digital Asset Exchange (PDAX).

“This is the first retail treasury bond issuance to leverage on blockchain technology in Asia, and likely the world. The Philippines is ready to lead the way into the future and tech up the nation with innovative, inclusive opportunities, powered by emerging technologies, for the benefit of all Filipinos,” said UnionBank President and CEO Edwin R. Bautista.

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Technology

Neobank tonik raises $21M Series A ahead of PH launch

tonik the first digital-only neobank in Southeast Asia.

The first neobank in Southeast Asia, Tonik Financial Pte Ltd (tonik), has just added US$21M to its war chest as it gets ready for its Philippine launch in Q3 2020. Sequoia India and Point72 Ventures led the US$21M round of Series A equity funding. Previous investors Insignia and Credence also had a significant participation. The neobank will use this round of funding to launch its Philippine operations.

“If the environment remains as it is, we should be launching in September-October. This funding is to provide us with runway for the first couple of years after launch,” tonik Founder and CEO Greg Krasnov told Digital Life Asia.

A neobank is a digital-only bank, meaning it operates purely online without traditional physical branch networks. In the past month since we last interviewed Krasnov, two Philippine banks have announced their plans to launch all-digital banks. What are Krasnov’s thoughts on these new developments?

“There is a major upswing in the demand for consumers all over the world for digital financial services. The more switched-on incumbent banks are seeking to capitalize on this demand. However, legacy banks are traditionally unable to innovate in the digital domain. They treat it as a channel for existing products rather than a product in and of itself. This means there is plenty of room for a player like us. We are a bank with the DNA of a tech company, and client interests at the foreground,” he said.

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A Life Less Analog Technology

BSP chief: 50% of retail payments to be digital by 2023

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The Philippines has embraced the digital imperative, according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor . In line with this, at least 5o percent of the country’s retail payments will already shift to digital by 2023.

“There is no arguing that the new economy is digital. Our aspirations for a more inclusive and prosperous post-COVID world necessitate putting in place the critical pillars of a digital economy, including robust digital infrastructure, digital skills, e-government, digital ID, and an enabling legal/regulatory framework. All these have given new urgency to BSP’s longstanding financial inclusion and digital transformation agenda for the financial sector,” said Diokno.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno said that by 2023, at least 50 percent of the country's retail payments will already be digital.

“The BSP committed by the end of my term at least 50 percent of retail payment transactions shifted to digital, and 70 percent of adult Filipinos having and using a transaction account. Towards this end, the BSP has drawn up a three-year digital payments transformation roadmap outlining our priority policy initiatives, including open banking.”

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Technology

First digital-only bank in SEA bullish on PH launch

TONIK Founder and CEO Greg Krasnov believes the Philippines is ready to embrace a digital-only bank.
TONIK Founder and CEO Greg Krasnov believes the Philippines is ready to embrace a digital-only bank.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have pushed its Philippine launch to September this year, but Southeast Asia’s first digital-only bank TONIK is confident even more Filipinos will embrace its digital banking services.

What makes the Philippines an ideal market for a digital-only bank? Particularly one that describes itself as an “anti-bank”?

“A very young and digital native population, that’s screaming for good digital solutions. The average age of a Filipino is 24. The average time spent on Facebook is four hours per day–number one in the world. Banks are not offering anything close to the level of expectation that most consumers have of their digital banking. Also there is a very high unbanked population, around 70 percent in the Philippines. These customers are so intimidated of banks they never want to have to go into a bank branch in their lives. They are waiting for a good digital bank to show up, which will drive their financial inclusion,” TONIK Founder and CEO Greg Krasnov told Digital Life Asia.

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Technology

Cryptocurrency compliance to ensure bright future in PH

SEC Commissioner Kelvin Lee talks about cryptocurrency regulation in the Philippines
Commissioner Kelvin Lee of the Securities and Exchange Commission talks about cryptocurrency regulation

As cryptocurrency continues to grow in popularity in the Philippines, industry stakeholders launched on March 5 the first in a series of quarterly meetups.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Commissioner Kelvin Lee was the keynote speaker at the first “Crypto Compliance Conversations” meetup. The meetups will provide a deep dive into compliance issues for virtual asset service providers (VASPs) while also encouraging innovation.

Also joining via Zoom from Singapore were Elliptic Chief Operating Officer Simone Maini and Elliptic Head of Growth Seimin Kuan. They shared the blockchain analytics firm’s expertise in helping businesses protect themselves from financial crime in cryptocurrency.