IFC invests $18.5M in Paymaya operator to aid firm’s foray in digital banking

THE International Finance Corp. (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, will be investing $18.5 million in Pangilinan-led financial technology firm Voyager Innovations Inc. (VII).

The investment will be made through IFC Emerging Asia Fund (“Emerging Asia Fund”) and the IFC Financial Institutions Growth Fund (“FIG Fund”). Both funds are under IFC’s equity mobilization division (AMC).

The investment will enable VII to grow its platform and offer integrated, end-to-end digital financial services to consumers, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and large enterprises.

“We are very pleased to continue supporting Voyager, which provides technology-driven solutions and innovative business models that will create new markets for accessible and affordable financial products and services that can improve the lives of more Filipinos,” Jean Marc Christian Arbogast, IFC Country Manager for the Philippines, said.

“In particular, our investment this time will enable VII to make its foray into digital banking, to reach currently financially excluded and underserved populations with a range of formal, affordable financial services suited to their needs,” Arbogast added. “The ongoing Covid-19 crisis has only reinforced the need for increased digital financial inclusion.”

The investment by IFC, Emerging Asia and FIG Funds, consists of up to $18.5 million in preferred shares. It is part of a $210 million capital raising that makes VII the second unicorn in the Philippines.

VII operates PayMaya, the only fintech in the Philippines serving all segments of consumers and enterprises with its consumer e-wallet app. The company also facilitates payment processing for businesses through an on-ground agent network, Smart Padala.

As of end-March 2022, it provides more than 47 million Filipinos access to financial services through its consumer platforms. Its Smart Padala by PayMaya network of over 63,000 partner agent touchpoints serves as last-mile digital financial hubs in communities, providing the unbanked and underserved access to digital services.

Victory Liner

VII announced last Wednesday that PayMaya is now being used by transportation operator Victory Liner Inc.

In a statement, VII said commuters can book and pay for their bus tickets at Victory Liner’s website using a PayMaya account, any debit, credit or prepaid card or via other e-wallets.

The firm added that commuters buying their bus tickets at Victory Liner stations in Baguio, Caloocan, Cubao, Dagupan, Olongapo, Pasay, Sampaloc, Santiago and Tuguegarao can safely scan to pay via PayMaya QR or any debit, credit or prepaid card. VII said it has enabled these Victory Liner stations with an all-in-one Android device that allows businesses to accept QR and any card payment.

The subsidiary of PLDT Inc. subsidiary PLDT Communications and Energy Ventures Inc. said it also equipped all 23 of Victory Liner’s “Drop and Go” outlets with PayMaya One terminals so consumers can make PayMaya QR or any card payment for their delivery service needs.

“Customers who wish to send packages can conveniently book the door-to-door pickup and delivery of items through the Drop and Go website,” the company said. “It offers terminal-to-terminal freight service within Central Luzon, Northern Luzon and Mega Manila.”

Vastly underserved

THE company also recently launched Maya Bank, a new, fully-digital bank in the Philippines. Its digital banking services will be integrated and offered at the back of PayMaya’s platform and ecosystem.

“Our strong record of execution and innovation is a testament to our world-class team’s hard work and talent. With this milestone, we are excited to leap forward and bring the best of PayMaya and Maya Bank to help unlock the digital economy for the underserved and unbanked Filipinos,” VII CEO-Founder Orlando B. Vea said.

IFC said the Philippines is the fastest-growing market in Southeast Asia, with digital adoption of services reaching tipping points during the pandemic, driven by the demands of a young, digital-savvy population.

Despite this accelerated trajectory, the Philippines remain a vastly underserved market with solid growth opportunities. Half of the adult population remains unbanked.

About 47 percent of Filipino adults do not have savings and of those with savings, one in two save via informal means. Only 1 in 3 adults have loans, of which a mere 3 percent are availing from banks.

The enormous digital financial services opportunity extends to MSMEs. These businesses account for 99.5 percent of the total establishments and employ 62.8 percent of the entire labor force in the country.

However, access to credit and financial services for MSMEs remain a challenge, with only 24 percent availing of loans or having lines of credit from formal financial institutions.

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