Voyager Innovations, through its financial technology arm PayMaya Philippines, announced on Monday, Sept. 20, that it had obtained the approval of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to establish a digital bank.
To be known as Maya Bank, the digital bank will leverage PayMaya’s track record as a financial technology that operates an end-to-end FinServ (financial services) ecosystem with its e-wallet, digital remittance network through Smart Padala, and the non-bank merchant payments processing business.
With the digital banking license, Maya Bank’s primary focus will be the largely unbanked and underserved population of consumers and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). It also intends to promote digital financial services among the youth, women, senior citizens, and other underbanked segments.
The BSP had earlier announced that it would limit the digital bank licenses to seven, with six now granted, including Maya Bank’s. The window for the submission of applications from new entrants, including converting banks, closed last August 31.
Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman of PLDT, Voyager, and PayMaya, said: “The digital transformation of our country is at the top of the PLDT group’s agenda, and this development is a big step forward for Voyager and PayMaya. Maya Bank will be a key vehicle in hastening digital adoption among Filipinos through inclusive financial services.”
Both PayMaya and the soon-to-be-established Maya Bank will spearhead Voyager’s digital financial services thrust, supporting the BSP’s goals of digitizing 50% of the total volume of retail payments and expanding the financially included to 70% of Filipino adults by 2023.
Orlando B. Vea, Voyager and PayMaya CEO-founder, said: “The Philippines is at the cusp of digital transformation, and over the recent years, PayMaya has led the charge in accelerating financial inclusion across consumers and enterprises. Our digital bank license underpins the unique value of our end-to-end financial services ecosystem as it unlocks opportunities beyond payments. We are truly honored by the trust placed on us by the BSP for our digital banking endeavor.”
In June 2021, Voyager raised an additional $167 million to accelerate the growth of PayMaya’s digital payments business and expand to new and inclusive products, such as credit, insurance, savings, and investments, through the soon-to-be-established digital bank.
Voyager counts PLDT, investment firm KKR, Chinese tech giant Tencent, World Bank’s IFC Asset Management Company (IFC AMC) through its IFC Emerging Asia Fund and IFC Financial Growth Fund, among its shareholders.
In July this year, PayMaya teamed up with Smart to launch GigaPay, a feature that enables Smart customers to create and link their PayMaya e-wallet as the payment source for GigaLife transactions.
To reach non-digital users, PayMaya has transformed its extensive Smart Padala agent network of 55,000 touchpoints as last-mile finance hubs in grassroots communities, a significant boost for a country with only over 28,000 bank branches as of August 2021. Smart Padala is now present in over 92% of all cities and municipalities in the country, serving as cash-in, cash-out, bills payment, and remittance centers to the unbanked and underserved.