Top 5 Emerging Fintechs in the Philippines to Watch in 2023by Fintech Philippines February 21, 2023
In the Philippines, the fintech industry has been rising steadily, driven by booming digitalization, a conducive regulatory environment, and the government’s ongoing efforts to improve access the financial services.
In 2022, consumer adoption of digital financial services continued to increase, with a study estimating a 75% increase in demand for online loans, and a 49% increase in demand for mobile wallets. Cryptocurrencies as well continued to see traction, eventually reaching a penetration rate of about 15%, according to Finder’s Crypto Adoption September 2022.
To sustain the growth of the Philippine fintech industry, investors extended their support in the sector, pouring an approximate US$344 million in funding in 2022, according to the Fintech in ASEAN 2022 report by UOB, PwC Singapore and the Singapore FinTech Association. The sum makes the country the third biggest recipient of fintech funding across the region with a 8% market share, and showcase investors’ confidence in the growth prospect of fintech in the market.
To get a sense of the country’s up-and-coming fintech leaders, we’ve selected five fintech startups that have witnessed significant growth over the past year and which are poised for greater traction in 2023.
For this list, we shortlisted companies that already secured notable rounds of funding, focusing on pre-Series A, Series A and Series B. These companies have launched their main product and already developed substantial user bases. They are now looking to strengthen and expand their offering, grow their teams, or launch overseas.
Tonik is a digital bank which was launched in the Philippines in 2021, notable for being the first independent all-digital bank in the country. Operating with its own bank license issued by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Tonik’s consumer products range from deposits and payments, to debit cards and loans.
Tonik has witnessed strong growth since its launch, reaching US$20 million and US$100 million of consumer deposits within the first and eighth months of operation respectively, thus achieving the status of one of the fastest growing neobanks globally.
Tonik’s holding company, Tonik Financial, closed a US$131 million round of Series B equity funding in February 2022 and proceeded on acquiring the Philippine business of Tendo Payment Solutions (TendoPay) in December.
The company is now focused on rolling out a broad range of digital consumer lending products to help improve financial inclusion in the country, as well as expanding the value proposition of its Tonik Account offering.
Launched in 2017, BillEase is an on-demand consumer credit app. The platform provides financial products such as personal loans, e-wallet top-ups, prepaid load, and gaming credits as well as BNPL, which allows customers to pay for their purchases online and offline in interest-free or interest-bearing installment plans.
BillEase, which claims more than 2,000+ partners, says one of its main differentiator from other BNPL services in the Philippines is that it allows customers to build formal credit records.
The company claims the volume of transactions done on its platform climbed by nearly five times in the first half of the year from the same period in 2021, and says it has disbursed over three million in loans so far.
BillEase is the flagship product of fintech company First Digital Finance Corporation. The company announced in January 2022 a $11 million Series B, bringing its total raised to about US$15 million in equity. This was followed in September 2022 by a US$20 million debt facility. The company said at the time it would use the proceeds for customer acquisition, developing new products and hiring.
Founded in 2018, the Philippine Digital Asset Exchange (PDAX) is an order-book exchange that allows users to trade popular cryptocurrencies and digital assets including bitcoin and ether.
The platform, which received its license from the central bank in 2018, helps users deposit and withdraw funds through a network of online and offline channels. It has partnered with over 30 cash-in and cash-out partners including Unionbank, PS Bank, AUB, Chinabank, PNB, and Instapay to name a few. Cash-ins are also available through Gcash, GrabPay, Maya, or Coins.ph.
PDAX currently allows mobile app users to trade more than 30 cryptocurrencies, but customers also have the option to upgrade their accounts to Prime, which gives them access to a total of 70 cryptocurrencies including exclusive and OTC tokens.
PDAX claims it reached 800,000 users at the end of 2022. According to the exchange, achieving almost a million users before 2022 ends is part of its aspiration to improve its products and services and help increase crypto awareness in the country.
In February 2022, PDAX raised more than US$50 million in a Series B round of funding led by Tiger Global, bringing its total funding to about US$63 million. The company said it would use the proceeds to cater to the growing non-fungible token (NFT) and play-to-earn markets in the Philippines as well as improve its customer experience.
Launched in late 2021, Lista is a financial management app that allows both merchants and individuals to track the flow of money in and out, and see their profits and savings in real-time. Customers can also record debts and use Lista to help collect receivables with its built-in SMS notification feature that automatically reminds borrowers of due dates.
The platform further provides users with purpose-driven solutions for personal and business finance, such as sales target, inventory and savings, with the latter boosted by a savings challenge to encourage more users to be financially savvy.
Lista recently reported 1.4 million downloads around the country, a massive traction that has been attributed to the platform’s ease of use and localized solutions that function with or without Internet connection.
In June 2022, it secured US$5.1 million in a Series A funding round to accelerate the expansion of its services and develop more products and features.
UNO Digital Bank
UNO Digital Bank is a licensed full-spectrum digital bank launched in 2022. The company offers one mobile app and one card that enables customers to save, borrow, transact, invest, and protect their finances with speed and ease. Current products offered by UNO Digital Bank include a savings account, time deposit accounts, a numberless payment card and a virtual debit Mastercard.
Singapore headquartered financial technology company UNOAsia, one of the primary incorporators of UNO Digital Bank, secured US$11 million in a pre-Series A in August 2022, bringing the company’s total funding to US$44.5 million.
UNOAsia’s strategic two to five year plans include setting up digital banking in few of the key markets across South and Southeast Asia. In the short term, the company is planning on introducing lending, insurance and crypto products to the Philippine market.
Featured image credit: Edited from Freepik