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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Cebuana Lhuillier acquires stake in Kakao Talk-backed fintech company SCI Ventures Inc.

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The Philippines' largest microfinancial services provider, Cebuana Lhuillier, led by president and CEO Jean Henri Lhuillier (second from left) enters into a joint venture with the country's pioneering blockchain venture builder, SCI Ventures, Inc., headed by CEO and co-founder John Bailon (third from left). Joining them are Cebuana Lhuillier Digital Sales Group Assistant vice president James Robert Afzelius and SCI Ventures, Inc. chief community officer and co-founder Miguel Cuneta. Peter Paul Duran

Filipino-led blockchain and digital asset platform, Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI) Ventures Inc., and Kakao Investment, virtual currency arm of Kakao Talk, Korea's largest messaging app, announced an investment from P.J. Lhuillier, Inc. (PJLI), parent company of  Cebuana Lhuillier, the largest non-bank financial services provider in the Philippines with 2,500 branches nationwide.

The company has invested an undisclosed amount to acquire a stake in the local fintech firm as part of its bid to enter the digital financial services market. 

With the influx of foreign digital payment giants and local start-ups entering the Philippine fintech market, a digital transformation is a natural progression for Cebuana Lhuillier as they are already servicing millions of Filipinos with microloans, microinsurance, and local and international money transfers. 

Proponents Cebuana Lhuillier and SCI Ventures signing the contract during the event. Peter Paul Duran

“This is another milestone in our continuing pursuit to expand our horizon and make a significant impact as we enter the digital arena. With our robust 2,500 branch network and strong partnerships with key financial players such as SCI and KaKao Talk in place, we are ready to take advantage of our unique ‘bricktech’set-up and make our mark in this space,” said Jean Henri Lhuillier, PJLI president and CEO.

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"Our goal is to be available for our customers 24/7 digitally and SCI is our conduit in doing so," he added during the press conference. 

This partnership allows SCI to introduce cutting-edge blockchain solutions and services to Cebuana Lhuillier's 4,000 domestic partners and one million combined physical and virtual touchpoints worldwide, expanding the local market for digital assets.

"We’re happy to be backed by an institution like Cebuana Lhuillier. We are well-aligned in our goal to provide better inclusive financial services in the Philippines. Their extensive brick-and-mortar network is unmatched in reach and efficiency, and going digital is a natural step forward for the company. SCI is excited to be part of this journey as a technology partner,” said Miguel Cuneta, SCI Ventures Inc. CCO and co-founder.

As more and more Filipinos go digital, a trusted local name like Cebuana Lhuillier can become the preferred digital financial services provider for the 80 million Filipinos who are not serviced by the banking industry. Currently, Cebuana Lhuillier has 11 million active users in their loyalty card program and serves over 25 million Filipinos in the country and abroad.

Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI) Ventures Inc. is a financial technology start-up company building blockchain services and products for the purpose of financial inclusion in the Philippines.

SCI’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Rebittance Inc., is one of the first Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)-registered Virtual Currency Exchanges in the Philippines.

The company venture is backed by South Korean tech giant Kakao Talk. Kakao Talk is an instant messaging app used by 93% of smartphone owners in South Korea with over 50 million active users.


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