Voyager Innovations, the Philippines-based operator of popular payments platform PayMaya, announced on Monday that it has secured a licence from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to establish a digital bank in the country.
The bank, which will be known as Maya Bank, will focus on the largely unbanked and underserved population of consumers and MSMEs in the Philippines, according to the announcement. It also intends to promote digital financial services among the youth, women, senior citizens, and other underbanked segments.
“We are very excited to work with the BSP to leapfrog the Philippine financial ecosystem by speedily developing and launching innovative digital banking services, especially for the underserved segments,” said Shailesh Baidwan, president of Voyager and PayMaya.
The licence makes PayMaya the sixth company that was given the green light by BSP to establish a digital bank in the country. The central bank had earlier announced that it would limit the number of digital bank licences to seven.
The approvals come as the central bank issued Circular 1105 in December last year, recognising digital bank as a new bank category that is separate and distinct from the existing bank classifications.
It is defined as a bank that offers financial products and services that are processed end-to-end through a digital platform and electronic channels with no physical branches offering financial products and services.
A survey conducted by the BSP in 2020 showed that the Philippines has among the lowest banking penetration in Southeast Asia, as the number of unbanked Filipino adults is estimated at 51.2 million, out of a total adult population of 72 million in 2019.
Other firms that have been granted licences to operate a digital bank in the Philippines are JG Summit Holdings and its partner, South Africa’s Tyme, UnionDigital, state-run Overseas Filipino Bank, UNOBANK, and Tonik Digital Bank Inc.
Voyager is backed by Philippine telecommunications company PLDT, private equity firm KKR, Chinese internet giant Tencent, and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation.
Founded in 2013, Voyager Innovations offers mobile money and payments (under the PayMaya brand), mobile-based remittances (Smart Padala) and solutions for businesses to receive online and card payments (PayMaya Business).
“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,” said Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman of PLDT, Voyager, and PayMaya.