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Friday, March 1, 2024

Fintech for those who need it most

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YOU may have seen their sales people in malls, or heard about their “no credit card needed” 0% interest promos from a friend. 

Or you may well be one of the two million Filipinos who are customers of Home Credit, a European finance technology (fintech) company that has grown in popularity since arriving in the country in 2013.

This was very evident last year, as Home Credit doubled its customer count in the country from one to two million in just six months while expanding its presence nationwide. The company is now present in over 3,000 stores, including the biggest malls, throughout the country.

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Addressing basic needs

The reason behind their success? 

For HCPH’s CEO Annica Witschard, it’s more than just allowing more Filipinos to get the latest gadgets at 0% interest installments; it’s about using technology to address peoples’ basic needs, especially their access to financial tools.

“As exciting a time as it is for the Philippines in terms of economic growth, we also know that there are still challenges that remain especially when you talk about financial inclusion,” said Ms. Witschard, a banking and fintech expert who hails from Sweden.

Home Credit PH’s CEO Annica Witschard: Our two million customers deserve nothing less

“The Bangko Sentral has reported that 86% of Filipino households don’t have savings accounts. And because they are unbanked, or have no prior credit history, it’s much harder for them to avail of loans and other useful financial tools. This is where Home Credit comes in.”

Bigger demand than ever

HCPH’s chief executive explains that unlike many “traditional” financial institutions, Home Credit is able to provide consumer loans faster and with fewer requirements, for a greater number of people—including first-time borrowers. And the demand for the service is bigger than ever.

“With Home Credit, now you can simply walk into a store, pick the item you need, apply for the loan right in the store using just two valid IDs, get the result of the application in twenty minutes, and bring home the good. And the best part is that majority of our products are zero interest,” she says.

According to Ms. Witschard, HCPH is able to dramatically speed up and simplify the loan process through technology. “It’s all about data. As a fintech company, we gather as much information as we can from as many sources as we can. This helps us approve more loans for more people at faster speeds, while managing risk.”

Diversity is key

Ms. Witschard also cites Home Credit’s massive network of partners, both in the retail and manufacturing sectors, as a key driver for their success. “We are partners with all the leading stores and electronics brands, including the biggest smartphone companies, and we work together to help more people afford things that matter most to them,” she says.

And while smartphones and tablets—thanks to the country’s huge tech-savvy young working population—are among the bread-and-butter commodities being financed by Home Credit, the company has already expanded its product portfolio to include furniture, e-bikes, and other goods, with plans to expand the lineup further. 

“We understand that there is a lot of demand for this service in a wide range of areas, so we are happy to meet this demand. For us, diversity really is key. And that means providing not just in-store financing, but other financial tools such as walk-in cash loans that can help many people in times of need,” Ms. Witschard explains.

Faster, bigger, better

And while 2017 has shown to be a landmark year in the Philippines for Home Credit—which has already made its mark as a fintech giant in countries such as China, Vietnam and Indonesia—Ms. Witschard assures that the best is yet to come as the company approaches its 5th year of operations locally.

“There are many exciting things in store for Home Credit’s customers. We have grown considerably in these last few years, and now we are working hard to become even bigger, faster, and better than before,” she says.

“Our two million customers deserve nothing less.”

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