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Mastercard partners with tonik, Phl’s first digital-only neobank, to accelerate financial inclusion

Through this partnership, Mastercard will further enhance tonik’s market proposition by enabling the latter to issue a range of electronic payments products that taps into Mastercard’s global network and extensive business intelligence when tonik launches operationally later this year.

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Mastercard announced a new partnership agreement with tonik, a two-year-old startup which recently received a bank license in the Philippines.

Through this partnership, Mastercard will further enhance tonik’s market proposition by enabling the latter to issue a range of electronic payments products that taps into Mastercard’s global network and extensive business intelligence when tonik launches operationally later this year. 

Internet penetration in the Philippines is at 67 percent, and one third of the population is millennials—many of whom are digital natives. However, according to the 2017 Financial Inclusion Survey by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), over 70 percent of the country’s population is unbanked. At the same time, 60 percent of Filipinos who are either in the formal banking system or can become part or the system, are willing to use offerings that are digitally focused. Achieving financial inclusion by leveraging financial technology has been top on the agenda for Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, which has set the goal of doubling the number of Filipinos with formal bank accounts by 2023. 

Driving digital financial inclusion and expanding access to formal financial services for the unserved and underserved population is one of the cornerstones of tonik’s proposition. As a mobile-only digital bank, tonik is able to develop highly customized, scalable banking solutions that fit the needs of a customer base that is incredibly diverse, ranging from people who are just making their first forays into the formal banking system, through to customers who have held accounts and used financial products for most of their adult lives. Because of its digital-first approach, tonik is well placed to meet consumers’ needs and demands irrespective of where they live, work and do business. 

“We want to empower the underserved and unserved Filipinos by giving them simple, accessible, and fast digital banking experiences. We want our customers to easily gain familiarity with transacting and banking digitally in order to help them harness the full potential of the rapidly changing digital economy. Our partnership with Mastercard is about injecting more speed, scale, and performance into all facets of our business. Having immediate access to Mastercard’s global payment network, safety & security technology, data and analytics services, AI technology, and cybersecurity capabilities will be essential to tonik’s growth and success in today’s digital-first reality,” said Greg Krasnov, CEO & Founder, tonik

Orchestrating this partnership is Mastercard Fintech Express, a tailored program which provides fintechs such as tonik with increased speed-to-market, access to a suite of digital-first products, and a cross functional team of experts to provide strategic counsel and advisory across product, partnerships, licensing and legal to be able to successfully build their offerings. 

“The entire payments ecosystem thrives when fintechs have access to the technology they need to reach scale and make finances widely accessible. tonik exemplifies an agile and innovative fintech whose ambition of driving financial inclusion in the Philippines through digital-first products and seamless consumer experiences is closely aligned with Mastercard’s mission to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone. tonik’s ability to secure a bank license as a startup is nothing short of exceptional and Mastercard is delighted to partner with them to enhance the Philippines’ digital banking space and to boost the nation’s financial inclusion journey,” said Rama Sridhar, Executive Vice President, Digital & Emerging Partnerships and New Payment Flows, Asia Pacific, Mastercard.

tonik will launch with a full range of banking services including a transactional savings account with a debit card, savings and term deposit accounts with attractive interest rates, as well as a range of consumer loans in Q3 2020. Debit Mastercard cards will be available to customers at the end of the year and will allow customers to transact and withdraw cash from everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Additional services such as loans, credit cards, and fund transfer categories will be made available in the course of 2021.

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UPS helps its Phl customers maintain critical infrastructure following typhoon

UPS’s recent expansion of its Worldwide Express Freight (WWEF) shipment service to more postal codes in the Philippines comes as welcome news to West Point Engineering, a long-time customer of UPS.

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Sitting in a tropical storm-prone belt of the Pacific Ocean known as ‘typhoon alley,’ the Philippines experiences an average of 20 tropical storms every year. 

Last year, on top of dealing with the pandemic, the Philippines was hit by Super Typhoon Goni, the most powerful tropical cyclone in the world in 2020. Goni, or Rolly as it’s locally known, ploughed through Luzon and affected 2.7 million people, displacing 31,000 and damaging or destroying 281,000 homes. Sanitation and hygiene become immediate concerns in the aftermath of a storm like this, with essential water infrastructure usually damaged.

West Point Engineering Supplies Incorporated provides specialized products and solutions to essential infrastructures in the Philippines, such as water, energy and meteorology. 

Among its list of projects is a 10-year program with the weather information services company, Earth Networks, and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration. They’ll collaborate to use weather monitoring sensors that provide earlier warnings for tropical storms. 

For West Point Engineering, speed and efficiency is essential in installing and maintaining specialized equipment like weather radars, which can save lives and homes. 

That’s why UPS’s recent expansion of its Worldwide Express Freight (WWEF) shipment service to more postal codes in the Philippines comes as welcome news to West Point Engineering, a long-time customer of UPS.

Businesses like West Point Engineering will benefit from time-guaranteed palletized shipments above 70 kilograms to more areas in Bulacan, Mabalacat, Angeles City, Laguna and Batangas, allowing businesses to more easily and quickly replenish bulk inventories. This helps customers meet urgent, sometimes life-saving, delivery requirements. 

“We have been a partner of UPS for over seven years,” said Dennis Ziganay, president and CEO of West Point Engineering. “Through this pandemic, we’ve been able to meet the demands of these challenging times … thanks to UPS.” 

With businesses needing a more agile and precise process in responding to the needs of the market and its customers, accessibility is key in responding to natural disasters around the globe.

“Exporters, SMEs and long-time partners like West Point Engineering are important contributors to the local economy. As they grow and expand, we listen to their changing supply chain requirements and cater to their needs,” said Chris Buono, managing director of UPS Philippines and Indonesia. 

 “Whether it’s one of the several natural calamities that occurred in the Philippines or an ongoing pandemic, UPS is committed to delivering what matters for our customers as they bounce back from a difficult year,” Buono ended. 

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Community banks a key resource for small businesses when crises arise

Community banks are an important source for small businesses when crises, like the COVID-19 pandemic, arise and business owners need to secure help quickly to continue paying their employees.

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Photo by lucas Favre from Unsplash.com

With billions on the table for struggling small businesses, new research from the University of Florida Warrington College of Business finds that community banks are a critical source for helping these businesses keep their workforce employed during the pandemic through loan access.

“Smaller community banks have traditionally been an important source of funding for small businesses,” said Christopher James, William H. Dial/SunTrust Eminent Scholar and research author. “Community banks tend to be relationship lend­ers, characterized by local ownership, local control and local decision making. Relationship lenders had strong incentives to make… loans in order to preserve small business relationships in the face of the massive economic downturn caused the pandemic.”

In their research, James, Warrington Ph.D. student Jing Lu and Georgetown University Ph.D. student Yangfan Sun, find that community banks were able to respond faster to loan requests from small businesses as compared to larger banks. They also find that community banks made more loans per dollar of deposits than larger banks, particularly during the early stages of the pandemic.

“Community banks tend to specialize in lending based on close personal ties between the loan officer and the small business customer,” James said. “This type of lending requires providing branch managers with greater decision rights in making lending decisions. As a result, lenders at community banks were able to respond faster when the PPP was introduced.”

Consistent with community bank focus on small business lending and their faster implementation of lending, the authors find significantly more loans per small business in counties where community banks had higher market shares. More important, the authors find that higher levels of lending are associated with significantly fewer small business bankruptcies.

Overall, James, Lu and Sun’s research finds that community banks are an important source for small businesses when crises, like the COVID-19 pandemic, arise and business owners need to secure help quickly to continue paying their employees.

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Shopee launches #TatakPinoy virtual trade fair to support Filipino businesses

Shopee, the leading e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, launches #TatakPinoy, a virtual trade fair geared towards supporting homegrown Filipino brands and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

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Shopee, the leading e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, launches #TatakPinoy, a virtual trade fair geared towards supporting homegrown Filipino brands and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). 

Shopee consistently advocates for the growth of local businesses. Amid the COVID-19 lockdown, which forced hundreds of Filipino businesses to close physical shops, Shopee supported over 1,000 sellers transitioning online through Shopee’s Seller Masterclasses and its partnerships with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and local government units. The initiatives helped Filipino entrepreneurs gain a basic understanding of e-commerce and digital marketing. Sellers were also able to master Shopee’s marketing tools, helping them achieve their maximum potential in e-commerce. 

To further strengthen support for local entrepreneurs, Shopee and DTI are set to launch the very first #TatakPinoy Virtual Trade Fair, a campaign that aims to promote products from Filipino brands and local MSMEs. From February 19 – 21, shoppers can discover local delicacies and pasalubong items, particularly those from Regions XII and IV-A, on Shopee. They can also buy products from Filipina-owned businesses, championed by Shopee and USAID’s partnership to empower local female entrepreneurs. 

In its statement, DTI’s Bureau of Domestic Trade Promotion announced, “The Department of Trade and Industry – Bureau of Domestic Trade Promotion is proud to be a partner for #TatakPinoy on Shopee. This initiative will connect thousands of consumers to more than a hundred MSMEs on one platform. We invite Filipinos from all over the country to patronize and take pride in products that are certified #TatakPinoy from the National Trade Fair Pop-up Store and Go Lokal! Shopee Mall.”

Martin Yu, Director at Shopee Philippines, said, “We strongly believe in the importance of uplifting homegrown entrepreneurs. From microbusinesses to SMEs, these local brands all contribute to the Philippine economy’s growth as a whole. Considering that most local businesses still can’t promote their products outside of online platforms due to the pandemic, Shopee also wants to create the opportunity to showcase the best Filipino brands. We will continue to spearhead campaigns that help reignite pride and demand for local products and drive the growth of the economy.”

Aside from discovering high-quality local craftsmanship and assisting local businesses in the process, shoppers can enjoy exclusive discounts up to 10% off on participating Filipino brands such as Colourette, Vice Cosmetics, and Human Nature. 

Shoppers can also enjoy more deals when they checkout using ShopeePay. For more information about the #TatakPinoy Virtual Trade Fair, visit https://shopee.ph/m/tatak-pinoy

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