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DiskarTech: Filipinos’ journey towards financial inclusion

Jev dela Cruz, 21, was one of an estimated 51.2 million adult Filipinos nationwide who are considered unbanked by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). Then came Diskartech, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation’s (RCBC) financial inclusion super-app that allowed him to open a basic savings account sans the complicated process of opening one.

“If you ask a Filipino why they’re unbanked, many will say it’s because they don’t have enough money to open an account. DiskarTech allows anyone to open an account without a balance, maintain an account without a balance, and have no dormancy fees,” said Lito Villanueva, RCBC’s Executive Vice President, and Chief Innovation and Inclusion Officer.

Now, Jev and millions of other Filipinos have access to various financial services through the app that allows them to become truly resourceful or madiskarte.

The one-year-old app’s ultimate goal, according to Mr. Villanueva, is to democratize access to banking in the country.

Democratizing banking in the Philippines

DiskarTech was developed to serve its customers in grassroots communities and includes services beyond simply opening a savings account. Users can deposit and withdraw money, buy mobile load, apply for loans and insurance, and transact other digital payments, among others.

It was also designed to be accessible and easy to use with a default interface in Taglish (a mix of Tagalog and English) or Visayan.

“[Through DiskarTech] we wanted to change the perception of Filipinos where banking is concerned. We want to focus on providing service especially to the underserved and the unbanked Filipinos especially in the provinces. We want them to achieve their financial aspirations, to experience asenso at ginhawa,” Villanueva said.

A year since its launch, the app now has more than 4.2 million downloads, at least 1 million basic deposit accounts, a total deposit size of P74.6 million, and a total usage value worth P2.5 billion. 80% of its users come from the provinces.

“We’ve achieved so much in a year with DiskarTech. We launched it at the height of the pandemic. But despite that, we were very surprised and heartened by the warm welcome for the Philippines’ first and only Taglish financial super app,” he explained.

Government and mSMEs’ reliable partner

Beyond being a financial inclusion app, DiskarTech became the Filipinos’ disbursement platform for social aid from the government.

Together with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), DiskarTech was able to disburse a total of P16.13 billion in financial aid, benefitting 4.5 million households or 22.83 million individuals nationwide. Social Security System (SSS) members can also receive their loan proceeds and benefits directly to their DiskarTech accounts.

DiskarTech’s features also allowed Filipino resilience to shine through as small and medium business owners, like sari-sari stores, used the app to generate additional revenue through the app’s PAKIsuyo service or requesting another person for a favor.  

This service includes bills payment, prepaid loading, insurance, and telemedicine that allow retail store owners to charge a minimal convenience fee for every transaction made.  

“We saw during a crisis that Filipinos really embody the value and virtue of sambayanihan (community). We’re really delighted we’re able to provide that service through the app,” Villanueva said.

The app also endeavors to help Filipinos see the value of insurance—over 30 percent of its users are now covered by microinsurance through its partnership with Malayan Insurance. More pioneering insurance products have been introduced for micro retailers, riders, and even households.

Through a joint awareness campaign with the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Negosyo Centers aims to provide sari-sari store insurance package of up to P55,000 to the first 5,000 sari-sari stores to sign up to the service.

The future of DiskarTech

Despite being in existence for only a year, DiskarTech’s innovative features and advocacy has earned accolades worldwide including the Breakout Finance App 2020 from App Annie, Best Digital Bank of 2021 from Business Tabloid Awards, Best Digital Bank of 2020 from Asiamoney Best Bank Awards, among many others.

This year, DiskarTech eyes to further strengthen its financial literacy campaign to educate more Filipinos on the basic concepts of financial technology and to help the rest of the country take saving and investing to heart.

Part of this ongoing mission is the launch the second season of DiskarTech TV (DTTV), the first digital-based broadcast program empowering ordinary citizens with the knowledge they need to achieve their financial and business goals. DiskarTech is also working together with the Department of Education for a curriculum-based integration of financial literacy in basic education. A step forward to achieve this is the publication of DiskarTips, the 1st Taglish Digital Coffee Table Book on Financial Stewardship.

 “There will be more features to be introduced for more users of DiskarTech. We would always want to be the first to continue innovating to be a fully inclusive mobile application,” he explained.

DiskarTech as a financial inclusion super app has made great inroads for the past 12 months since launch but its mission remains the same – to accompany ordinary Filipinos in their journey towards financial inclusion: from diskarte to asenso at ginhawa. 

Topics: DiskarTech , Department of Social Welfare and Development , Lito Villanueva , RCBC
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