JG Summit, Oriente investing P10 billion for expansion of Cashalo mobile app

Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Gokongwei-owned JG Summit Holdings Inc. and Hong Kong-based Oriente are pouring in P10 billion over the next three years to build and expand the reach of Cashalo, a mobile application that provides on-demand access to loans to Filipinos.

Cashalo, a mobile-first lender, is part of the joint venture of JG Summit subsidiary Express Holdings Inc. and Oriente, which seeks to accelerate financial inclusion in the Philippines by providing loans to the unbanked sectors in the country.

In an interview with The STAR yesterday, JG Summit president and CEO Lance Gokongwei said being part of the 50-50 joint venture is consistent with the conglomerate’s goal of “changing Filipino lives” through different business models.

“It’s a shared vision to really transform Filipinos’ lives by providing them access to affordable financing,” Gokongwei said, adding that this is consistent with how JG Summit has transformed lives through disruptive business models such as when it offered Sun Cellular and when it introduced budget travel through Cebu Pacific.

Gokongwei said about 70 percent of adult Filipinos borrow money, while the remaining 30 million Filipinos have to contend with loans that slap exorbitant interest rates of five percent to 20 percent.

JG Summit chairman James Go added that Cashalo could help make Filipino lives better because its interest rates are more affordable.

Cashalo, a play of the words “cash” and “kasalo,” the Filipino word for “inclusion,” provides on-demand access to fast, easy, and affordable loans securely via a smartphone.

Borrowers can avail of loans ranging from P3,000 to P5,000 which can grow to bigger amounts later on, with an interest rate of two percent and a processing fee of four percent.

Through the platform, proponents aim to enable millions of customers, including those with no credit history, to participate in the global economy by having access to financing.

Initially, Cashalo will be available to employees and customers of the JG Summit group of companies, before being marketed to all Filipinos in the coming weeks. It seeks to cover 1,000 employees by yearend from over a hundred at present.

 “Through the Cashalo app, we will collate and analyze hundreds of alternative data points on consumer behavior to develop robust credit and risk assessments, effectively filling the gap left by traditional credit scoring methods and lenders,” said Hamilton Angluben, general manager at Cashalo.

Cashalo draws on Skype founder Oriente’s proprietary cutting-edge technology, data science capabilities and its highly successful teams with a wealth of experience building and scaling businesses in emerging markets, as well as JG Summit’s local knowledge, extensive resources and vast datasets on consumer behavior, to offer affordable and secure access to credit and other financial services tailored specifically for Filipinos.

Geoffrey Prentice, Oriente co-founder and chief strategy officer, said the company partnered with JG Summit because of its considerable resources that would enable the joint venture to connect millions of Filipinos to the type of financial infrastructure they deserve.

Oriente was founded in 2017 by former Skype co-founder Prentice.

JG Summit, meanwhile, is one of the largest and most diversified conglomerates in the Philippines.

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