The Philippines is among the few exceptional countries in the world whereby both men and women are given equal access to important financial services. This is in stark contrast to a study conducted by the World Bank which showed that a higher proportion of women than men worldwide are not able to access crucial financial services, and this gap gets even larger for those living in emerging economies. The Philippines’ financial inclusiveness can be attributed to the fact that the country has several successful fintech startups that prioritize the inclusivity and accessibility of financial services for all. What is even more remarkable is that these fintech startups are all led by women, and these female founders and entrepreneurs are contributing much to the financial services space in the Philippines by introducing solutions and services that facilitate the participation of both genders.
One such remarkable fintech startup is eCompareMo, which is a play on the Filipino words that, when translated, means “compare it”. The startup, which is led by chief executive officer Stephanie Chung, claims that it is the Philippines’ only platform that provides a comprehensive and up-to-date comparison of various financial products and services for its users. Powered by its advanced calculation engine, the platform, which is easily accessible and user-friendly, empowers its users by providing them with the relevant data on the credit cards, non-life insurance services and loans that they want to compare so that they are able to make better informed financial decisions. The comparison platform is also capable of connecting users to their preferred financial provider of choice once they have decided on a product or service, and ensure that the ensuing purchasing process is a fluid and streamlined experience.
To better serve their users, the startup has partnered with more than 20 insurance companies and banking institutions across the Philippines, and employs an in-house group of financial experts to help users secure approval for their financial applications. Currently, eCompareMo is looking to make financial services even more accessible and inclusive by introducing an alternative credit scoring system that enables the unbanked population of the Philippines to acquire bigger loans that would otherwise be out of their reach.
Under the capable stewardship of its co-founder and chief executive officer Stephanie Chung, the fintech startup eCompareMo is now serving over half a million users each month, and has helped more than 6 million Filipinos make better financial decisions since its launch in 2014. The startup’s parent company, C88, scored one of Southeast Asia’s largest fintech venture capital Series C financing rounds when it raised US$28 million in an oversubscribed round in 2018.
Olivia, a personalized financial tracker free mobile app that caters specifically for women, was founded by Jocelyn Pantastico, its chief executive officer, in order to increase the accessibility and recognition of investment vehicles and to bring more women into the investing world. By employing smart tech and algorithms, the app is able to take into consideration its users’ personal data and help them prioritise their goals and allocate investments to those goals, and the app also connects their users to certified investment solicitors and financial advisors that are able to help them in setting up their investment accounts. The app has a heavy emphasis on investment goals and horizons, such as helping its users to calculate the amount needed to set aside for investing for a particular time horizon, the duration of the investment vehicle, and so forth so as to achieve their investment goals, instead of the usual considerable emphasis placed on analytics, metrics and statistics that are common for most other financial applications.
The startup founded by Ms. Jocelyn was able to win the prestigious She Loves Tech competition in 2018, which was a global competition with the aim of showcasing women-founded startups from around the world alongside women-focused businesses.
With women leaders and entrepreneurs leading the way, the financial services space in the Philippines is becoming a role model for the rest of the world on how best to approach financial inclusiveness, enabling a larger population of men and women, both unbanked and underbanked, to participate in the world of finance. As these remarkable women-led Philippine fintech startups have shown, financial inclusiveness is certainly a noble and achievable goal.