Voyager raises $167 million as it plans to expand PayMaya services, open digital bank

VOYAGER INNOVATIONS raised $167 million (P8.15 billion) in funding for the expansion of its financial technology unit PayMaya Philippines, including the establishment of a digital bank.

Voyager’s main shareholder PLDT, Inc. told the stock exchange that it participated in the latest funding round for the technology company, alongside existing shareholders, private equity firm KKR & Co. and China’s Tencent Holdings.

IFC Financial Institutions Growth Fund, a member of the World Bank Group, also invested in Voyager.

“This investment includes $121 million in fresh funding and $46 million from previously committed funds,” Voyager said in a statement.

The company also announced it has applied for a digital bank license with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

Voyager said PayMaya plans to offer new products such as credit, insurance, savings, and investments through its planned digital bank.

“We have seen a quantum leap for digital payments adoption in the Philippines over the past year, and PayMaya has served as the nexus connecting consumers and enterprises with enriching digital finance experiences. This investment supports the unique value we bring and gives us a natural head start with the target market for the digital banking service,” Orlando B. Vea, Voyager and PayMaya chief executive officer and founder, said in a statement.

The digital payments company had processed P700 billion worth of transactions in 2020, and is on track to “more than double” its gross transaction value this year, Mr. Vea said at a briefing in May.

With the fresh funds, Voyager might be “on par or ahead” of the competition, Astro C. del Castillo, managing director at First Grade Finance, Inc., said in a phone interview.

The Philippines is an appealing market for foreign investors because of the low penetration rate for digital banking, he added, noting there is still “a lot of space” for growth.

Only 29% of Filipino adults had accounts with formal financial institutions in 2019, leaving about 70% or 51.2 million unbanked, based on a BSP survey.

The BSP wants to bring the country’s banked population to 70% of Filipino adults by 2023.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.

PLDT shares closed 0.23% lower at P1,285 apiece on Monday.

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