Millions of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMES) in the country, which include sari-sari store owners, carinderia operators, and stall owners in public markets, rely on small loans to keep their businesses going.
These underserved Filipinos need better financial services, such as faster credit access from legitimate and reputable lenders.
Open Finance and payments platform i2i has been providing financial services to micro business owners like Mang Efren, a vegetable stall owner in Cebu.
Mang Efren was able to pick up his approved loan proceeds conveniently from the nearest partner remittance center through i2i, currently the fastest-growing Open Finance and payments platform in the country.
UBX Philippines, the financial technology venture studio of Unionbank of the Philippines, has been at the forefront of promoting an Open Finance ecosystem with i2i since the service was introduced in 2018.
i2i connects hundreds of banks and community-based financial service providers to each other, the National Retail Payment System (NRPS), and the largest remittance channels.
The platform provides enabling technologies that connect financial institutions directly to the country’s various financial ecosystems. It makes possible the interoperability among financial services providers with payments, disbursements, collections and transfer facilities. Thus, allowing more Filipinos like Mang Efren to enjoy faster access to financial services that are driven by technology and innovation.
“At UBX, our vision is simple – providing opportunity and access to all. That’s why we developed i2i as an Open Finance network built on top of blockchain technology and API-based integration across member banks and financial service providers. In one movement, it digitally transforms these institutions, allowing fintechs and digital platforms to innovate across the network, while providing new, cost-effective services and solutions to consumers,” said John Januszczak, UBX President and CEO.
Another feature of i2i service is Openi2i, a banking-as-a-service platform and developer ecosystem that allows partners to integrate financial services directly into their systems. Openi2i can link the largest banks to community-based financial service providers to each other, or fintechs to digital platforms.
A beneficiary of the Openi2i is the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI), which has been providing microfinance services to hundreds of thousands of micro-entrepreneurs in underserved communities across the country.
RAFI’s partnership with i2i has resulted in the increase in the number of customers who have accessed their loan proceeds. It has also helped grow RAFI’s collection capabilities.
“With the direct integration of our core banking system and Openi2i, our members now have options of getting their loan proceeds through i2i’s existing remittance partners. They get their money at the most convenient place possible. It has also allowed the enterprise access to more competitive rates across different channels,” according to Iris Dorado, RAFI Vice President of Business Development.
Another happy client is MYEG Philippines, an e-government solutions and payment services provider who partnered with i2i in 2020. The company was able to expand its access to hundreds of counters through Openi2i network with a single integration.
“A critical addition to the MyEG Philippines platform—these are invaluable payments and collections points for our customers all over the country,” said Ann Saldaña, MyEG Philippines Inc. Chief Executive Officer.
Though just starting in the Philippines, the Open Finance system is becoming more and more embraced by the population who are already reaping the benefits of the technology that allows them to do banking services conveniently.
Recently, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has announced the approval of the Open Finance Framework guidelines, which is a key step that will encourage active partnership, interoperability and data portability among financial institutions and fintech players.
Open Finance opens opportunities for customers and providers alike as it promotes accessibility and inclusivity through customer-permissioned data, creation of personalized financial services, and better credit approval workflows.
A gamer-changer in the Open Finance space, i2i boasts of hundreds of member institutions and over 1,700 agents across the country. It provides fund transfers, bills payments, mobile ATM, disbursements, and a host of services that are accessible in bank branches, local remittance counters, and merchant locations.
Anne Yosuico, Product Lead for i2i explains, “There’s a clear reason why we do what we do in i2i. We run the country’s first Open Finance platform and network that enables service providers to bring financial services closer to the underbanked and unbanked. i2i makes a difference in Filipinos’ lives everyday. We #includeeveryone!”
For its impact on financial inclusion in the Philippines, i2i bagged the awards “Best Digital Financial Inclusion Project – Philippines” from The Asset Triple A Digital Awards, and Operating Model Master for the Philippines from the 2019 IDC Digital Transformer Awards.
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