Tech firm Voyager Innovations raised US$167 million (P8.15 billion) to establish a digital bank via its financial technology arm, PayMaya Philippines (PayMaya).

Existing shareholders PLDT Inc., global investment firm KKR and leading Chinese tech firm Tencent participated in the fund-raising, which consisted of US$121 million fresh investments and US$46 million previously committed funds.

Voyager welcomed IFC Financial Institutions Growth Fund, a fund managed by the IFC Asset Management Company (IFC AMC), as a new investor.

IFC AMC is a division of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, and an existing investor in Voyager.

After establishing PayMaya’s mobile wallet, payments processing, and digital remittance businesses. Voyager is now leveraging the ecosystem to expand into digital banking.

Already, Voyager has applied for a digital bank license with the country’s central bank, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

Voyager will use the new funds to expand its PayMaya services to offer products such as credit, insurance, savings, and investments, through its soon-to-be-established digital bank.

Its target market will be unbanked and underserved individuals as well as micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

Ofter procuring a BSP digital bank license, 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 technology platforms.

“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 digital finance experiences,” remarked Orlando B. Vea, Voyager and PayMaya CEO-Founder.

“This investment supports the unique value we bring and gives us a natural head start with the target market for the digital banking service,” he added.

“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,” assured Shailesh Baidwan, Voyager and PayMaya President.

“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.”

Total registered users for its PayMaya mobile wallet and Smart Padala consumer platforms doubled in just 18 months as of June 2021 to 38 million, more than half of the adult population in the Philippines.

PayMaya also made it easier for Filipinos – whether banked or unbanked – to add money, cash out, make payments, and remit funds through more than 250,000 digital-finance access touchpoints, seven times the number of the ATMs and bank branches in the country.

This expanded access is significant for an archipelagic nation where 33% of cities and municipalities do not have any banking presence.

PayMaya spurred digital commerce in the Philippines through its PayMaya Mall, an in-app feature directly connecting over 350 enabled merchants to retail consumers.

Its enterprise business posted a four-fold increase in merchant acceptance points equipped with 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 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.

It was the first financial technology company to adopt QR Ph, the national standard for merchant payments.

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, Negosyo Advance, last January among its 40,000-strong Smart Padala agent network–the most 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.

Significantly, only one in three Filipino adults has a formal bank account and has loans.

Of those who have loans, only 3% have borrowed from banks, and more than 77% and 75% of the population do not have insurance and investments, respectively.

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

Source: Manila Bulletin (