SG-based fintech firms issued digital bank licenses by BSP

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Two Singapore-headquartered fintech companies – UNObank and Tonik – have received approval from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to operate digital banks in the country.

UNObank, which will be helmed by Manish Bhai as CEO, said it is aiming to help bridge the financial inclusion gap in the Philippines and eventually Southeast and South Asia.

“The BSP’s vision and foresight to digitize the local banking industry is future-forward and apt, because ultimately it will help align the Philippines as a modern banking center for the region,” Bhai. “We are very grateful to the BSP and honored by the trust placed in our team.”

Tonik, on the other hand, held a public launch in March 2021 that saw it secure over P1 billion in retail deposits in under one month — said to be a historic record for any new bank launching in the Philippines.

Most recently, Tonik said it has also bagged its Pre-Series B funding, solidifying its position as one of the highest funded fintechs in Southeast Asia.

“Securing a digital banking license is one of this year’s anticipated milestones for us,” said Greg Krasnov, Tonik CEO and founder. “This will help us further strengthen our foothold in the neobanking space through accelerating the roll out of our additional lending and payment products.”

In December 2019, Tonik said it received its initial rural bank license from the BSP, allowing the neobank to provide retail banking services focused on retail deposits, card payments and consumer loans.

A year later, the BSP issued Circular No. 1105 on The Guidelines on the Establishment of Digital Banks, clearing the way for Tonik to scale up and apply for a formal digital bank license.

“We are truly privileged to be working with a regulator such as the BSP who shares the same vision of bolstering financial inclusion in the country,” said Long Pineda, country president at Tonik.

“An official digital bank license will enable us to offer more products and services to narrow the gap between the banked population and the huge underserved segment in the Philippines.”

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