Voyager Innovations raises US$167mn in funding for PayMaya
Founded in 2013, Voyager provides mobile payments and remittances to consumers, while enabling businesses to receive digital and credit card payments.
The raised capital will be used to speed up its expansion plans which include obtaining a digital banking license from the Philippines Central Bank.
According to Voyager Innovations, current shareholders, which include the Chinese technology giant Tencent, PLDT - the largest telecoms operator in the Philippines, and KKR a US-based private equity firm, all took part in the latest funding drive that will see the fintech embark on a mammoth growth plan.
Voyager Innovation digital banking license
Official sources say that the application for a digital banking license has already been lodged with the Philippines Central Bank. Once approved, the fintech company will be able to provide full digital banking services via the PayMaya platforms.
Speaking about the latest funding drive and what it will mean for the company, which will essentially become a neo-bank, Voyager and PayMaya founder and CEO Orlando Bea, said, “This investment supports the unique value we bring and gives us a natural head start with the target market for the digital banking service.”
Unbanked populations in the Philippines
A recent report by PearlPay, an end-to-end digital payments solution provider states that out of a population of 108 million people, there are only 20.9 million that are banked in the Philippines and 51.4 million people remain unbanked.
The reasons for this include the fact that only 34% of adult Filipinos are formal financial account holders and the majority of people living in rural areas simply do not have access to digital financial solutions.
However, data shows that the adoption of digital finance options in the Philippines has increased rapidly since 2018.
Voyager and PayMaya President Shailesh Baidwan said, “We will enable the large masses of Filipinos to leapfrog into a new stage of financial inclusion through integrated digital financial services. Our goal is to continue making lives better for millions of underserved people and small businesses.”
Digital payment solutions and PayMaya
Reports show that the use of PayMaya QR codes as a contactless payment method has increased in popularity, even among street vendors within urban areas.
Voyager has also said that users of PayMaya mobile wallet and remittance services have risen two-fold to 38 million since January 2020, and that the service now reaches over half of the adult population in the Philippines.
Causes of unbanked populations
- 1) They live in poor, rural locations and don't have access to financial services or even mobile technology.
- 2) Financial services are too expensive for them to consider as they often incur a minimum deposit requirement and have other upfront costs.
- 3) A recent Financial Inclusion Survey found that women in the Philippines are twice as likely as men to own an account, "particularly in non-government microfinance organisations and cooperatives."
- 4) They have a cultural distrust of banks and believe physical currency to be a more secure form of payment.
Upgrade launch new credit card with bitcoin rewards
Upgrade, a fintech company focused on providing credit for mainstream consumers, has launched the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card a new version of its Upgrade Card featuring bitcoin rewards. Under the new programme, users earn unlimited 1.5% bitcoin rewards on every purchase as they make payments.
The custody and trading platform for holding and selling bitcoin is provided by NYDIG and the card is a Visa Signature card, which includes benefits such as trip and baggage insurance, purchase protection, and extended warranty coverage.
The company offers credit lines from $500 to $25,000 with the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card depending on your credit score. It works with Apple Pay and Google Pay. Like other Upgrade credit cards, there are no monthly fees, late fees, or returned payment fees.
"Upgrade Card is already delivering over $3 billion in annualised credit to consumers," said Renaud Laplanche, co-founder and CEO at Upgrade. "Starting today, anyone can apply for an Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card and enjoy the same affordable and responsible credit as with any Upgrade Card, plus the potential upside and fun of owning bitcoin."
Participating in the crypto economy
Upgrade isn’t the first company to announce a credit card with bitcoin rewards, but it’s the first one that is generally available. Anyone can apply with no waitlist, and start using their virtual card immediately until they get their physical card in the mail.
"Crypto rewards introduce cardholders to a new asset class that is increasingly part of a consumer's financial portfolio," said Terry Angelos, SVP and Global Head of Fintech at Visa. "Whether you're a crypto enthusiast or just getting started, programmes like the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card offer an engaging and low-risk way to participate in the crypto economy."
At the moment, you can’t do much with your bitcoins. You can choose to hold them or sell them. There’s no way to transfer your bitcoins to another wallet for instance. If you choose to sell your rewards, there’s a 1.5% transaction fee.
This card is not currently available in all 50 states. Customers in Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia can’t order an Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card at the moment.