10 May 2022 |

Fintech and The Philippines

By Nicole Casperson

ASIA

Fintech and The Philippines 🇵🇭

The Philippines is facing a watershed moment. 

Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son, and namesake of a former Philippines dictator is likely to win the country’s presidential election. Meanwhile, the number of Filipinos in poverty has risen to over 26 million, just under 25% of the population. 

The country, made up of thousands of little islands, is also an incredibly attractive emerging market for fintech companies given poor financial inclusion coupled with high-tech sophistication. 

In fact, the Philippines is the second most attractive emerging market for fintech behind Vietnam, according to Tellimer Insights’ fintech attractiveness index

So what makes the Philippines one of the most attractive emerging markets for fintech? It’s AAPI heritage month and this is my heritage.

Let’s dive in. 

What’s Up

First, the Philippines has a high mobile phone penetration (155% of the population) and internet access (82% of the population). 

Yet, only 34.5% of Filipino adults have a bank account, well below the median for emerging markets (70%). Access to ATMs and credit cards is also more limited.

And that’s the perfect formula for fintech disruption.

Naturally, the Philippines’ fintech ecosystem is skewed toward payments (38% of total fintech companies) and lending (30%) — accounting for two-thirds of the Philippines’ fintechs ecosystem. 

Funding is pouring into these sectors the most, too. Fintech funding in the Philippines in the first half of 2021 clocked in at US$342 million, more than double the previous year. Some highlights: 

  • Mynt’s US$300 million funding round makes it the country’s first unicorn
  • Digital banking operator Tonik raised US$131 million in Series B.
  • Mobile wallet GCash raised US$175 million from New York-based private equity fund Bow Wave Capital Management.
  • and Voyager Innovations US$167 million.

What’s Next

Fintech companies in the Philippines grab a 27% market share of the overall financial services industry. This is higher than I expected but lower than the 31% average for emerging markets. 

Research shows the Philippines expects to gain a market share of ~ 9% increase coming almost exclusively from exposure to underserved customers. 

Most notable gains are expected in general insurance, credit/debit card payments, and personal/vehicle loans. 

Targeted fintech innovations for the future include: 

  • Big data analytics and risk management
  • Technology to reduce fraud and defaults
  • Cryptocurrency
    • 4% of the Philippines’ population owns cryptocurrency. And the Philippines is a top country for cryptocurrency adoption, according to Chainalysis.

The future looks bright for the Philippines fintech companies, given that 60% say they are currently profitable. Moreover, over one-third are expecting to become profitable within the following year.

I fundamentally believe fintech companies can be used as a force for good while being a lucrative investment. And the path to profitability for the Philippines is quicker than it is for other markets.

Leaders to Watch

Mynt – Founded in 2015, Mynt is a partnership between Globe Telecom, the Ayala Corporation, and Ant Group. The company also operates two fintech companies: GCash, a mobile payment application, and Fuse, a microloan service provider.

At the $300M fundraising, the company said it had 48 million users with daily app log-ins of 19 million and active daily transactions of 12 million. 

Ernest Cu is the president and CEO of Global Telecom, and Martha Sazon is the president and CEO of Mynt.

Tonik – Tonik is a digital bank providing retail financial products, including deposits, loans, savings accounts, payments, and cards. It is the first neobank to receive a digital banking license from the central bank (BSP). The company is now focusing on rolling out its consumer lending products to help promote financial inclusion. 

Greg Krasnov is the founder and CEO of Tonik. 

Philippine Digital Asset Exchange – PDAX is the Philippines’ leading cryptocurrency exchange. Filipinos can buy, sell, and trade digital assets against the Philippine peso in real-time. It is available both online and via mobile application. The firm is licensed and regulated by the BSP. 

Nichel Gaba is the founder and CEO.

PayMongo – PayMongo is a payments infrastructure company that helps small businesses and entrepreneurs accept online payments. Its products include a payment API that can be integrated into websites and apps, allowing businesses to accept payments from bank cards and digital wallets like GrabPay and GCash. 

PayMongo is led by co-founders CEO Francis Plaza, CTO Jaime Hing, and chief commercial officer Luis Sia.

BayaniPay – BayaniPay started as a remittance company and has grown into a neobank that offers products via East West Bank. It’s built to serve the Filipino-American community, the third-largest Asian American group in the U.S. 

CEO Winston Damarillo founded BayaniPay.

Check out other Philippines’ fintech investors and thought leaders here

DIGITAL ASSETS

Instagram Beta Tests NFTs for Creators

Instagram head Adam Mosseri said the platform is testing NFTs with 16 select creators in the U.S. this week. 

The supported blockchains for showcasing NFTs on Instagram are Ethereum and Polygon, with support for Flow and Solana coming soon. 

The third-party wallets compatible will include Rainbow, MetaMask, and Trust Wallet, with Coinbase, Dapper, and Phantom coming soon. 

Although Instagram is a centralized platform, they believe this move will make web3 more accessible to a broader audience. Additionally, no fees will be associated with sharing or posting a digital collectible on Instagram. 

Plus, the move helps keep Instagram relevant. It opens an avenue for content creators to monetize and sell their content, whether a brand, marketer, influencer, or artist using social media.

Why It Matters

Social media jumping into the NFT bandwagon kicked off when Twitter offered to put NFTs as profile pictures. Then, Meta rolled out 3D Avatars for Facebook, and YouTube has been distributing personalized NFTs to influencers. 

But Instagram may be the most suitable platform for NFTs given the aesthetically pleasing, status-seeking, and photo-centric app. Plus, the demographics line up:

  • 1 billion people actively use Instagram every month (Hootsuite)
  • The majority of Instagram’s audience are Millennial and Gen Z users.
  • Research shows that most people interested in NFTs are between the ages of 18 and 24. Followed by 25 – 34-year-olds. (Civicscience)

I’m all for a larger audience to gain access to and learn about digital assets. Plus, one of my favorite parts about NFTs is their ability to give underrepresented artists a place to make some well-deserved income

But at the end of the day, social media adopting NFTs is a business front. It serves as an alternative revenue source for these tech giants. 

For example, users with a ‘Twitter Blue’ ($3 per month) subscription have the NFT display option. Twitter will have over 340 million monthly active users by 2024, up from 290.5 million in 2019. 

On the flip side, NFTs are also used for good causes. The latest (and most fun) example is Sir Mix-a-Lot teaming up with Meta-X Studios for a new NFT project called Bit Butts to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Baby Got Back

6,666 unique, hand-drawn booty NFTs (I’m calling them booty art) will drop in June, and a portion of sales will go to the nonprofit organization Colorectal Cancer Alliance

If I can purchase some booty art and flex it on Instagram for a good cause, I guess I’m ultimately here social media meets digital assets. *Cue Baby’s Got Back*

OPEN BANKING

Current Jumps Into Open Banking 

Current rolled out its platform API today, partnering up with Plaid. As a result, nearly 4 million users can access more than 6,000 apps powered by Plaid’s network. 

Current, first, established itself as one of the most influential fintech companies to exist via top tier marketing to Gen Zers and Millennials, and now it’s showing users it doesn’t just talk the talk

Why It Matters

Current members can now connect their accounts to fintech apps, including digital payments, financial planning, and investment tools, on the Plaid network.

The process was able to come together fast because of Current’s phone number and device authentication, eliminating reliance on banking credentials and making everyone’s lives a helluva lot easier. 

Fintech partnerships aren’t always so groundbreaking. But this one is a game-changer for this massive challenger bank.

Current has quickly become a formidable competitor to Chime and Square’s Cash App. (It tripled its valuation to $2.2 billion in five months after its Series D). 

So this first API integration is a big move. It opens the door to other fintech companies to build on Current and catapults its ability to scale. 

Plus, open banking is a massive market opportunity. The global open banking industry generated $7.29 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach $43.15 billion by 2026. 

WTF ELSE?

  • Egyptian fintech Paymob raises $50M led by PayPal Ventures and Kora Capital
  • The average startup CEO salary is $150,000 in 2022 
  • The fintech startup rule book is being rewritten by APIs 
  • KeyCorp buys fintech that helps borrowers manage student debt
  • How to do digital transformation the right way with fintech 
  • BlockFi expands crypto-asset options for non-U.S. clients