ING, Unicef team up to support fintech startups
Dutch financial giant ING and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) have teamed up to help catalyze fintech startups that can offer scalable groundbreaking solutions that will benefit the financially excluded and hardest-to-reach communities in the Philippines and the rest of the world.
On Wednesday, ING and Unicef conducted a boot camp for potential participants at the Asian Institute of Management, generating interest from various groups, including those that already have products being tested in the Philippines, to those that were still preparing to enter the market.
Four to six fintech startups will be chosen to participate in ING-Unicef’s yearlong “Fintech for Impact” program, which offers a yearlong technical and business mentorship and grants worth $400,000.
“With the growth in digital technologies, we are looking at fintech startups to come up with new tools that could help Filipino families and young people in bridging the service and financial gaps,” ING country chief Hans Sicat said at the opening of the boot camp.
“We believe that collaborating with fintechs is key because we can’t do it alone. Partnerships can be beneficial for both parties: Fintechs can bring agility, creativity and entrepreneurship, while financial institutions like ING bring a strong brand, large client base with international footprint, and breadth of industry expertise,” he added.
Areas that fintech solutions can address include: financial services, credit (increasing access for young entrepreneurs or parents for loans for education and skills development), transparency and financial education (using new technologies that employ games and virtual or augmented reality to reach more marginalized groups).
Pia Bernadette Roman-Tayag, managing director of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ Center for Learning and Inclusion Advocacy, graced the boot camp and expressed support for this initiative.
“The BSP has been working relentlessly to promote financial inclusion in the country, so all Filipinos will have access to financial services. Working toward financial inclusion means leveraging on partnerships and optimizing technologies that will allow Filipinos, regardless of income, to achieve their financial goals,” she said.
Terra Weikel, fintech investment coordinator at Unicef Innovation, said during the application process, the fintech startups would be asked how much they need for their work plan over a 12-month period.
“Then we would assess if they need that amount. Hopefully we can get the full amount to (four) companies that ask for the full amount, but there might be companies that do not need the full amount, in which case we may end up with a few more,” she said.
A maximum of $100,000 grant will be given to each successful applicant.
Fintech is a portmanteau of financial technology that refers to any new technology that seeks to improve and automate the delivery and use of financial services. “We’re really looking at a broad definition of fintech just to give the maximum opportunity for social impact,” Weikel said.
“It may be something like education platform or education app that will have a great social impact that you want to build in some financial elements,” she added.
Applicants must be registered as a private company in a Unicef program country. It must be testing or preparing to enter the Philippine market or may have deployed the solution. It must use open-source technology.
The search for participants is ongoing until Feb. 23.
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