Oriente and Express Holdings Inc., a Hong Kong-based unit of JG Summit Holdings Inc. (JGSH), through an exclusive partnership, seeks to address the financial exclusion problem of underbanked consumers and local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
The joint venture will set up a digital financial services marketplace that will enable Filipinos to tap into credit facilities.
“Leveraging its experience building internet giants LU.com and Skype, Oriente is using technology and data science to tap into JGSH’s resources to enable online peer-to-peer lending and wealth management at attractive interest rates,” JGSH President and COO Lance Gokongwei said.
World Bank figures show close to 90 percent of adult Filipinos are not covered by a credit bureau and many people resort to informal means to borrow money.
In addition, according to the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas, of the 43 percent of the population who save money, only 14 percent of households maintain a deposit account and 68 percent keep their savings in unsecured places.
“We are creating a digital infrastructure and social ecosystem to fuel financial inclusion, enabling credit and wealth accumulation,” Hubert Tai, CEO of Oriente and co-founder of LU.com, said.
Globally, LU.com is one of the highest valued fintech startups worth $18.5 billion and boasts an active customer base exceeding 7 million and annual transaction volume of $800 billion.
Geoffrey Prentice, co-founder of Oriente and Skype, added that Oriente addresses a pressing social need by providing a superior option to informal lending.
“Skype empowered affordable communications; in a similar manner, our partnership will empower Filipinos to access affordable credit by leveraging the latest technology,” he said.
Skype is one of the largest technology startups in Europe to date, and now makes up more than 40 percent of all international voice traffic.
The joint venture is in the pre-operating and developmental stage, and is expected to launch in early 2018.
Oriente was founded in April 2016 by co-founders of Skype and LU.com to address a multi-trillion-dollar problem in emerging markets – the lack of affordable credit, even for the salaried middle class.
Express Holdings Inc. is a subsidiary of JGSH, one of the largest and most diversified conglomerates in the Philippines.
JGSH is engaged primarily in businesses that serve a growing middle class with rising disposable incomes in the Philippines, Southeast Asia and Australasia. Its largest subsidiary, Universal Robina Corporation (URC), is one of the leading food and beverage companies in the ASEAN and Oceania region.