More entities seek digital bank license

Lawrence Agcaoili - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines —More entities are looking at establishing a presence in the country’s newly created digital banking space as more consumers shift to electronic channels, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier said the regulator is currently evaluating three applications for digital bank license, while another company has also expressed interest.

“There are three applications currently in process, with another one which has signified interest,” Fonacier told The STAR.

Entities with pending application are Aboitiz-led Union Bank of the Philippines  and a foreign entity.

The BSP has so far given three banks the green light to operate as digital banks in the country.

These are the Overseas Filipino (OF) Bank of state-run Land Bank of the Philippines, Tonik Digital Bank and UNObank, both based in Singapore.

Manish Bhai, co-founder and chief executive officer at UNOBank, earlier said the company aims to bridge the financial inclusion gap to help pave the way for all Filipinos to have access to basic financial services after it became the first fintech to be awarded a digital banking license by the BSP last week.

“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.

The BSP issued Circular   1105 in December last year recognizing digital bank as a new bank category that is separate and distinct from the existing bank classifications. It is defined as a bank that offers financial products and services that are processed end-to-end through a digital platform and electronic channels with no physical branches offering financial products and services.

The guidelines pegged the minimum capitalization of digital banks at P1 billion. Under the framework approved by the Monetary Board, the number of digital bank licenses is initially capped at five.


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