BSP OKs digital bank license for Singapore-based fintech
MANILA, Philippines—The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has approved the operations as a digital bank in the Philippines of fintech DigibankAsia Pte Ltd, a Singapore-based company and one of the incorporators of UNObank.
In a statement, UNObank—the first fintech to receive a license outright to operate a digital bank—will be entirely regulated under the digital banking license framework in the Philippines.
DigibankASIA was co-founded by three executives who collectively have extensive experience across banking, capital markets, treasury, lending, digital operations and technology.
UNObank will be helmed by Manish Bhai as CEO, a career banker and tech entrepreneur. Co-founder Kalidas Ghose is a recognized fintech influencer who led the effort to build FE Credit in Vietnam from scratch and created VP Banks digital bank ecosystem. Puneet Gupta, co-founder and chief technology officer, is a technology innovator known for building cutting edge digital products and platforms.
With UNObank, the founders aim to help bridge the financial inclusion gap in the Philippines and eventually Southeast and South Asia.
UNO, which means ‘one’, sets the premise for a digital bank that offers one app and one card to enable anyone anywhere in the Philippines to save, borrow, transact, invest and protect their finances easily, with speed and ease.
The firm said it is being built on a robust technology stack that includes products and services from highly regarded tech industry leaders including Mambu, Backbase and AWS.
“The BSP’s vision and foresight to digitize the local banking industry is future-forward and apt, because ultimately it will help align the Philippines as a modern banking center for the region,” Bhai said. “We are very grateful to the BSP and honored by the trust placed in our team.”
So far, the BSP has granted three digital bank licenses, two of which are conversions from previous bank licenses. UNObank is the first to receive the new license entirely under the digital banking license framework.
In previous years, the Philippines has lagged in terms of financial inclusion, but regulators are working to improve access through digital banks which can increase the number of people in the Philippines that have access to borrowings, savings, payments, and other financial services.
The Philippines still 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, according to the BSP’s 2019 Financial Inclusion Survey released in 2020.
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