MVP: Still a long way to go for Maya’s IPO

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star
MVP: Still a long way to go for Maya�s IPO
Manuel V. Pangilinan.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Business titan Manuel V. Pangilinan’s telco empire boasts of leading players in their respective fields – PLDT and Smart. But ranged against e-wallet rival GCash, he is honest and humble enough to admit that their digital bank Maya Bank Inc. is nowhere near the level of the Globe unit, and that it has a long path to take before it can start considering going public.

Recently, Pangilinan traveled to his resort in Calatagan, Batangas for rest and recreation, and found time to dip into the waters to somewhat shake off the El Niño heat.

On the shorelines, several vendors approached him to sell ice cream and, as he was about to pay, he realized his pockets were empty of cash given that he just came off from swimming.

One of the vendors, not wanting to let go of the potential buyer, said Pangilinan can pay through GCash, as the e-wallet offers money transfer from within the app or through a QR. This gave the tycoon a laugh, but he never shared if he bought the ice cream using GCash.

“GCash is the vernacular. We (in Maya) are way behind the digital wallet, and everybody knows that. We are not blind. Digital bank is a strength for Maya, no doubt, because Globe doesn’t have a digital bank,” Pangilinan said.

From this analysis, Pangilinan shrugged off talks that Maya may be doing an initial public offer (IPO) anytime soon, saying Maya has to prove first that it can be a profitable business.

Maya is scheduled to break even toward the end of the year, and the digital bank is projected to turn in a profit by 2025, with Pangilinan hoping that Maya can sustain this on a consistent basis.

Apart from this, Pangilinan believes that the stock market today is risky and shaky, and if Maya wants to do an IPO, it has to wait for the environment to become conducive.

GCash has teased about making an IPO since 2023 when Globe Telecom president and CEO Ernest Cu said the app is ready to go public. Since then, GCash has issued no definite timeline as to when it plans to formalize its listing, citing risks in the economic landscape.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us, so to dream of an IPO (for Maya) within the next two years is simply an illusion. Plus the market here is not conducive to an IPO. The kind of valuation that people are thinking about for Maya is just out of sight. Is that being honest enough?” Pangilinan said.

Maya, owned by Voyager Innovations Inc., is one of the six players in digital banking operating with a license from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

To date, Maya maintains 3.4 million depositors in its fold and the bank has disbursed more than P34 billion to about one million borrowers.

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