Categories
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.

Categories
Technology

Hyperlocal to become part of new normal, says BPI

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen the emergence of a vibrant hyperlocal market, with residents preferring to buy and sell products within their immediate communities.

Practically overnight, these communities set up Facebook and Viber groups. Here, neighbors could chat with each other and freely advertise their own products and services. These include home-baked bread and desserts, home-cooked meals, and fresh produce. They purposely kept the trade within the community to limit the entry of outsiders and simplify delivery and pick-up logistics. And while this was a response to the crisis, don’t expect hyperlocal to go away even after the pandemic ends.

“The hyperlocal marketplace is expected to become part of the new normal due to its unique selling proposition. The proximity factor between the buyer and seller makes this model work and competitive even with other online options from larger companies. The ability to deliver products and services faster gives a tremendous opportunity to all participants in this ecosystem,” Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Chief Digital Officer Noel Santiago told Digital Life Asia.

Categories
Technology

Komo, EastWest’s all-digital bank, eyes ‘younger upstarts’

Isabelle Yap, Special Projects Officer and AVP at East West Banking Corporation, said they are launching Komo because while they believe brick and mortar will not go away anytime soon, digital is the future.
Isabelle Yap, Special Projects Officer and AVP at East West Banking Corporation, said they are launching Komo because while they believe brick and mortar will not go away anytime soon, digital is the future.

What’s in a name? In the case of Komo, the all-digital bank that East West Banking Corporation is launching this year, it’s a name that they hope will become synonymous with a good digital banking experience.

“We would like to have a distinctive name and let the name be defined by the value we give to customers. The idea is to associate Komo with a good digital banking experience. From the start, we knew that we wanted to make customers feel calm and assured by creating a product that was easy to use, secure, and reliable. Our goal was to simplify customers’ lives by giving them full control over their money. Translate that to Filipino and you might say kontrol mo ang pera mo (you control your money) — hence, Ko-mo,” Isabelle Yap, Special Projects Officer and AVP at EastWest, told Digital Life Asia.

The bank is offering Komo through its subsidiary EastWest Rural Bank. Yap said Komo will target a different market segment than EastWest’s own digital banking services.

“We believe that there are segments in the market where Komo makes sense, and there are segments in the market who want digital banking services but still coupled with brick and mortar. Each segment has different needs, and therefore, may not want the same products or experience. For example, Komo’s target market is focused mainly on younger upstarts, which is different from EastWest’s target market. Therefore, the corresponding products and services offered will be different.” she said.

Categories
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.

Categories
Technology

RCBC all-digital bank also inclusion super app, says EVP

RCBC EVP and Chief Innovation and Inclusion Officer Lito Villanueva says exciting times are ahead with the upcoming launch of the RCBC all-digital bank.
RCBC EVP and Chief Innovation and Inclusion Officer Lito Villanueva says exciting times are ahead with the upcoming launch of the RCBC all-digital bank.

As Yuchengco-owned Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) ramps up its digital transformation, it will launch an all-digital bank that will drive financial inclusion in the Philippines.

“RCBC will be launching an all-digital bank and it will be sooner rather than later. The company is not afraid to look towards the future and accept that legacy banking may be a thing of the past. A peek into what we have ahead: this new product will not only be an all-digital bank but also an inclusion super app — with an array of services that is more than what is offered in the market today. Exciting times are coming,” Lito Villanueva, EVP and Chief Innovation and Inclusion Officer of RCBC, told Digital Life Asia.

Villanueva is concurrently the Chief Digital Transformation Advisor of the Yuchengco Group of Companies (YGC). He emphasized the important role that digital transformation plays in financial inclusion.

“I believe that digital transformation is the wrecking ball that will bring down real and perceived barriers to financial inclusion for Filipinos. For one, majority of Filipinos already own mobile phones and are connected online. If we could bring financial services to their electronic devices, then we do not only have one foot in the door but we will literally be inside their homes. Well, digital transformation is not just about technology or devices. It is about mindset, culture, and people,” Villanueva said.

Categories
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.

Categories
Technology

Online banking embraced by more Filipinos, says ING

Hans Sicat, country manager of ING Bank in the Philippines, stresses the need to make online banking accessible 24/7 to customers.
Hans Sicat, country manager of ING Bank in the Philippines, stresses the need to make online banking accessible 24/7 to customers.

Need more convincing that it is better to bank from home? The COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be a very compelling reason. Filipinos are now shifting to online banking due to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that forces them to stay home.

As an all-digital bank, ING Bank is committed to making its services available 24/7. It has also announced it will keep its savings interest rate at 4% per annum until July 31. This will assure ING customers that their money will continue to grow, as sustained savings or for emergency needs.

“The increasing shift to online banking due to the ECQ has given us bigger opportunities to encourage more Filipinos to bank from home the past few weeks,” Hans Sicat, country manager of ING Bank in the Philippines, told Digital Life Asia via e-mail.

Categories
A Life Less Analog Technology

Phygital banking is the way to go, says BPI

Technology column header

While other banks are talking about digital banking, Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) has said it is already looking ahead and pursuing a phygital banking strategy.

As one of the country’s top banks, BPI has aggressively pushed digitalization. However, it also recognizes that customers require different channels based on their preferences and types of transactions.

Phygital banking is the way to go. says BPI
BPI’s board of directors and other officers meet the stockholders via video conferencing during the bank’s first virtual annual stockholders’ meeting. Shown here in the screenshot are, from left: Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Chairman; Cezar Consing, President and CEO; Atty. Angela Maramag, Corporate Secretary; Maria Consuelo Lukban, Head of Corporate Strategy and Investor Relations; Romeo Bernardo, Independent Director; Xavier Loinaz, Independent Director.

“We don’t believe it will be a cold turkey-type scenario where people just switch to digital right away. We believe that in the near term, the success of digital banking will be determined by how you harmonize your digital [channels] with your physical branches. In BPI, we call that phygital,” BPI COO Ramon L. Jocson said in response to my question.