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California-based fintech, lender launch neobank

FILIPINO-led financial technology (fintech) company BayaniPay Inc., in partnership with Pasadena, California-headquartered East West Bank, recently launched the first-ever Filipino American neobank that seeks to cater to the financial needs of Filipino Americans.

“Filipino-Americans are one of the largest Asian American groups in the United States, with a $145-billion purchasing power,” BayaniPay CEO Winston Damarillo said in an online news briefing. “Despite their significant market size and buying power, no bank has catered to their financial needs and responsibilities both here and in the Philippines.”

Damarillo considers the creation of the neobank as a milestone as it is the first time that East West Bank, a subsidiary of East West Bancorp Inc., has made its digital banking platform available to enable a banking-as-a-service platform. A neobank is a type of direct bank that operates exclusively online without traditional physical branch networks.

Launched in November 2021, BayaniPay provides zero-fee remittances from California to the Philippines and market-leading foreign exchange rates in partnership with BDO Remit (USA) Inc. By integrating bank products into its platform, Damarillo pointed out that BayaniPay aims to address another pressing need of the estimated 4.2 million US-based Filipinos.

“As an immigrant myself, I’ve had firsthand experience with how financial services for global professionals were sorely lacking or came with high fees. That’s why we created BayaniPay,” he said.

Parker Shi, executive vice president and COO of East West Bank, said BayaniPay will be a major financial bridge between the US and Asia that has robust digital banking capabilities to the cross borders needs of their customers.

“We introduced direct-to-consumer digital banking services to provide customers around the world with comprehensive solutions that fit their lifestyle,” Shi said. “This partnership enables fintech providers like BayaniPay to embed our products and services to serve a whole new group of customers.”

Damarillo said BayaniPay enables users to open an East West Bank-powered digital checking account, order a co-branded Visa debit card and send zero-fee remittances to the Philippines. To push further “borderless banking,” the updated suite of features aims to create a seamless experience for both users and their beneficiaries overseas.

With the launch of the neobank, Damarillo said recipients in the Philippines can now receive their BayaniPay remittances in 12 hours or less through most national banks, as well as rural banks, pawnshops or cash pick-up outlets. By sending money using BayaniPay’s market-leading foreign exchange rates, Damarillo said recipients receive more of their money for every dollar sent—a significant benefit to recipients of regular remittances and charitable donations.

Looking ahead, BayaniPay aims to simplify a variety of cross-border transactions for global professionals from different countries of origin.

Currently available in California, BayaniPay, according to Damarillo, will be available to more states soon.

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