Tonik, the country’s first digital-only neobank, said Monday it secured a digital bank license from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, becoming the first for any private and purely digital bank in the Philippines.
A neobank, also known as an online bank, internet-only bank, virtual bank or digital bank, is a type of direct bank that operates exclusively online without traditional physical branch networks.
The development came after Tonik’s highly successful public launch in March 2021, which saw it secure over P1 billion in retail deposits in less than a month—a record for any new bank launching in the Philippines.
Tonik also bagged pre-series B funding, solidifying its position as one of the highest funded fintechs in Southeast Asia.
“Securing a digital banking license is one of this year’s anticipated milestones for us,” Greg Krasnov, Tonik chief executive and founder, said in a statement.
“This will help us further strengthen our foothold in the neobanking space through accelerating the rollout of our additional lending and payment products,” he said.
Tonik received its initial rural bank license from the BSP in December 2019, allowing it to provide retail banking services focused on retail deposits, card payments and consumer loans.
A year later, the BSP issued Circular No. 1105 on “The Guidelines on the Establishment of Digital Banks,” clearing the way for Tonik to scale up and apply for a formal digital bank license.
Long Pineda, country president at Tonik, said an official digital bank license would enable it to offer more products and services to narrow the gap between the banked population and the huge underserved segment in the Philippines.
Tonik offers accessible, flexible and inclusive financial services, including industry-leading deposit interest rates of up to 6 percent per annum, and unique saving features such as its Solo Stash and Group Stash products, as well as term deposits.
Tonik is supervised by the BSP and deposits are insured by the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. Its unique cloud-based solution is powered by global financial technology leaders such as Mastercard, Amazon Web Services and Finastra.
Tonik is led by a team of retail finance veterans who have previously built and scaled multiple retail banks and fintechs across the global emerging markets. It is backed by top international venture capital funds, including Sequoia India and Point72.
Tonik operates out of hubs in Singapore (headquarters), Manila, Chennai and Kyiv in Ukraine.
BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno earlier said the regulator was reviewing a number of applications for the establishment of digital banks in the country. The BSP was pushing for digitalization even before the onset of the COVID -19 pandemic.