PayMaya gets digital bank license

Published September 20, 2021, 8:49 PM

by Emmie V. Abadilla & Lee C. Chipongian

Voyager Innovations (Voyager), through its financial technology arm PayMaya Philippines (PayMaya), has obtained the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) approval to set up a digital bank.

PayMaya Logo

The digital bank, Maya Bank, is now the sixth out of seven to be BSP-licensed.

Maya Bank will focus on the unbanked and underserved population of consumers and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

It also intends to promote digital financial services among the youth, women, senior citizens, and other underbanked segments.

“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.

Both PayMaya and the soon-to-be-established Maya Bank will spearhead Voyager’s digital financial services thrust, supporting the BSP’s goals of digitizing 50 percent of the total volume of retail payments and expanding the financially included to 70 percent of Filipino adults by 2023.

In June 2021, Voyager raised an additional $167 million to accelerate the growth of PayMaya’s digital payments business and expand to new and inclusive products, such as credit, insurance, savings, and investments, through the soon-to-be-established digital bank.

PayMaya’s total registered users grew by more than two-times since the start of last year to 40 million as of August 2021.

Meanwhile, BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier said the country’s seventh digital bank has changed its application with the central bank and may face delays in approval.

Fonacier said the seventh digital bank, which is an existing bank applying to convert into a digital bank, has revised a detail in its proposed digital banking unit.

“(It’s) not yet approved,” Fonacier said. “There might be a change of plans for the proponent. (The) BSP is waiting for their confirmation.”

Earlier, the BSP has closed the window for digital bank license applications on Aug. 31 and will no longer accept new applicants for neobank license for the next three years or until end-2024.

The BSP imposed a limit of only seven banks for the digital banking space.

As for the last digital bank license applicant, this is an existing bank that is applying to shift to digital banking and once approved by the BSP, it will have three years to complete conversions including the closure of branches or branch lite units.

The BSP limited the number of digital banks to just seven to enable them to closely monitor and develop expertise in the supervision of digital banks.

BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said however that they will lift the moratorium on digital bank license applications if they have assessed a need for additional digital banks. But for now, seven is enough digital banks for the Philippine market, he said.

Six digital bank licenses were granted to the following: Overseas Filipino Bank of Landbank; Tonik Bank of Singapore; UNObank of Singapore; UnionDigital of UnionBank: GOtyme of Robinsons Bank; and Maya Bank, owned by PayMaya of the PLDT Group.