Financial inclusion and digital transformation
The Philippines’ largest association of financial technology (fintech) and digital players, Fintech Alliance.PH, is hosting the Inclusion and Digital Transformation (INDX) Summit 2.0 on November 22-23, 2022 at the Enderun Tent in McKinley Hill, Taguig City. The theme of the high-level summit is “Accelerating the Digital Economy: Issues, Impacts, Innovations.”
This will be the second edition of the INDX Summit, which brings together industry leaders, practitioners, and government partners involved in strategy, digital finance, innovation, and digital transformation. Among the industry partners of Fintech Alliance.PH are the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines and the Management Association of the Philippines.
Established in November 2017, Fintech Alliance.PH was launched at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) by the late BSP Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr., who was an avid advocate of inclusive digital finance and financial education. Its collective membership generates over 90% of digital-initiated transactions in the country today.
According to Hamburg-based global database firm Statista, the Philippine fintech market’s biggest segment will be digital payments with a projected transaction value of $28.5 billion for 2022. The digital investments segment is expected to show a revenue growth of 36.3% in 2023.
FINTECH INDUSTRY LEADER
One of the most successful Filipino-owned fintech companies is DFNN Inc., founded in 1999 by then CEO Ramon Garcia Jr., who now serves as Executive Chairman of the homegrown firm. For the first three quarters of 2022, the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE)-listed firm posted its highest recorded revenue at P970.6 million, up by almost 173% year-on-year.
Recently, the tech veteran sat down with fellow entrepreneur and brand ambassador Chris Tiu to dive deep into DFNN’s origins and how it rose to become an industry leader. Garcia recounted that in the 1990s, he led the PSE Computerization Committee at a time when equities market transactions were still done manually.
“We eventually moved on to conducting all transactions electronically, which involved working with foreign suppliers. I could not understand why we were paying so much to offshore companies for something I knew Filipinos can do,” Garcia said. From there, he started DFNN with the simple purpose of addressing a need, and thus began his dream that Filipinos could compete on the global technology stage.
At the age of 30, he listed DFNN at the PSE. “Like any startup, we had to go through what I call dialing for dollars, or seeking out people who believed in your vision,” he shared during the interview with Tiu. He mentioned Bong Belen of First Asia Venture Capital, Robert Coyiuto Jr. of Prudential Guarantee, Vivian Yuchengco of the PSE, and Kevin Tan of Megaworld as those who helped him build his vision.
Over the years, DFNN has expanded its technologies to include biometrics, blockchain solutions, gaming, and national ID capabilities. Its expertise now ranges from fintech and software development to data centers and space technology.
CEO Calvin Lim disclosed that DFNN already made commitments to invest further in the $134-million domestic data center market alongside its partners in California’s Silicon Valley. The company is also focusing on space sustainability as a result of its ties with Elon Musk’s SpaceX that will soon offer its Starlink satellite broadband technology to the Philippine market.
By investing early in these growing technologies, DFNN hopes to move the needle for future-proofing the local tech landscape. “As an industry, I still don’t see that we’ve reached our full potential. Looking at Filipino consumers, while access has improved greatly over the past decade alone, many technological innovations are still contained within certain areas or regions,” Lim observed.
As the country heads into another global digital revolution, DFNN wants the Philippines to be prepared in growing its own capabilities and play with the big names in the international arena.
*** J. Albert Gamboa is a Life Member of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX). He is the Chairman of the FINEX Media Affairs Committee and the Editor-in-Chief of FINEX Digest. The opinion expressed herein does not necessarily reflect the views of these institutions and the Manila Bulletin. #FinexPhils www.finex.org.ph