Voyager Innovations, the digital services arm of Philippine telco giant PLDT, announced today it has raised US$167 million in a new funding round for its fintech unit PayMaya.

Besides PLDT, its other existing shareholders such as KKR (from its Asia private equity fund) and Tencent also joined the round, along with new investor IFC Financial Institutions Growth Fund.

This investment includes US$121 million in fresh funding and US$46 million from previously committed funds.

The tech giant will use the fresh capital to expand PayMaya’s services, including mobile wallet, payments processing, and digital remittance businesses.

Also Read: PLDT’s digital services arm Voyager Innovations raises US$215M from Tencent, IFC, KKR

In 2018, Voyager had secured US$215 million in fresh funding from a host of international investors.

According to a press statement, PayMaya is also looking to enable more unbanked and underserved individuals and MSMEs with products such as credit, insurance, savings, and investments, through a soon-to-be-established digital bank. Towards this end, it has applied for a digital bank license with the Philippines’s central bank BSP.

Once granted a digital bank license by the BSP, the new entity will provide mobile-first, low-cost, round-the-clock, frictionless, branchless, ubiquitous, paperless, secure, and smart neo-banking services on the back of PayMaya’s proven technology platforms.

Orlando B. Vea, CEO and founder of Voyager and PayMaya said: “We have seen a quantum leap for digital payments adoption in the Philippines over the past year, and PayMaya has served as the nexus connecting consumers and enterprises with enriching digital finance experiences. This investment supports the unique value we bring and gives us a natural head start with the target market for the digital banking service.”

Shailesh Baidwan, Voyager and PayMaya President, said: “As we did with payments and remittances, we will enable the large masses of Filipinos to leapfrog into a new stage of financial inclusion through integrated digital financial services. Our goal is to continue making lives better for millions of underserved people and small businesses, with cutting edge solutions that are affordable and relevant.”

According to the company, PayMaya witnessed strong consumer adoption for its mobile wallet and remittance services amid the COVID-19 crisis. Total registered users for these consumer platforms doubled in just 18 months as of June 2021 to 38 million, or more than half of the adult population in the Philippines.

The firm has also set up more than 250,000 digital-finance access touchpoints, which it claims is 7x the number of the ATMs and bank branches in the Philippines. This expanded access is significant for an archipelagic nation where 33 per cent of cities and municipalities do not have any banking presence.

Additionally, PayMaya connects over 350 enabled merchants to retail consumers through its PayMaya Mall, an in-app feature.

Voyager further claimed that PayMaya’s enterprise business saw a four-fold increase in merchant acceptance points equipped with innovative payment solutions that accept credit, debit, and prepaid cards, as well as e-wallets, for both face-to-face and online transactions.

Aside from enabling the payment acceptance for the largest e-commerce, food, retail, and gas merchants in the Philippines, PayMaya equips over 70 national and social services agencies and local government units with digital payments and disbursement services.

Also Read: Voyager Innovations acquires SG-based e-commerce startup Paywhere

In January this year, PayMaya began expanding its digital financial services offerings with “sachet” loans for MSMEs through its lending arm, PayMaya Lending Corp., and health and device protection products with insurance partners.

PayMaya introduced its first lending product called Negosyo Advance last January among its 40,000-strong Smart Padala agent network, an extensive network for domestic remittance and adjacent financial services in the country. Smart Padala agents are typically microentrepreneurs in communities who need short-term working capital loans for their day-to-day businesses.

With insurance partners, PayMaya offers PayMaya Protect for health coverage, starting with COVID-19 and personal accidents. It also offers protection for mobile devices, with premiums that can cost less than Php1 (US$0.02) daily for cracked screens, water damage, and other incidents.

In the Philippines, only one in three Filipino adults has a formal bank account and has loans. Of those who have loans, only 3 per cent have borrowed from banks, and more than 77 per cent and 75 per cent of the population do not have insurance and investments, respectively.

The country’s central bank aims to digitalise 50 per cent of the total volume of retail payments and expand the financially included to 70 per cent of Filipino adults by 2023.

According to a Gulf News report, Philippines saw a 5,000 per cent spike in digital payments in the time of COVID-19.

Image Credit: PayMaya

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