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5 Digital Banks in the Philippines That Let You Open an Account Without Going to a Branch

Digital banking is the future.
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Suck at money? Congrats. You’re part of the 99 percent of people in their 20s floundering when it comes to finance. Adulting is hard, and money is harder—especially when it’s your own and not your parents. My Two Cents is here to break down everything you need to know about finance, business, and entrepreneurship. We’ll tackle all the basics, from how to get a business permit to how to invest in stocks, to educate the fledgling adults on how to not go broke.

Welcome to the idiot’s guide to money. Lesson No. 26: How to open an account in the Philippines without going to a bank branch.

With ECQ in place, digital banks in the Philippines have stepped up to help people complete banking transactions completely online from the safety of their homes. Almost all traditional banks, like BPI and BDO, have upped their online banking capabilities, and account holders can now pay bills and transfer money using only an app. But these mobile apps still require an account that requires you to go to a physical branch to set one up.

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There are only two completely virtual banks in the Philippines that do not have traditional branches. These are the Dutch company ING and Malaysian bank CIMB. The two allow users to open an account and deposit checks completely online, relying on artificial intelligence to confirm identities and documents.

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Aside from these two pioneering virtual banks in the Philippines, UnionBank is also being lauded as the best digital bank in the country with an app that blows other banking apps out of the water. MayBank is also joining the ranks with a product that lets you register completely online.

Here are the best digital banks in the Philippines that let you open an account without going to a branch:

ING

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Bank at the safety of your home. Deposit your checks via the ING mobile app in just a snap. #HomeBankING

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ING is perhaps the most sophisticated virtual bank on this list. The international bank is in more than 40 countries with almost 40 million customers. This branchless bank has grown momentum in recent years as the world slowly transitions into a cashless society.

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To open a bank account with ING, you only need to download the app to set up your account. There is only one type of savings account in ING, so consider the app the product itself.

Online check deposits: Yes
Transfer charge: No charges when transferring from your ING account
Transfer limit: P150,000
Annual fee: No annual fees
Minimum required balance: None
Interest rate:

From today to July 31, 2020:
For available daily balance of less than or equal to P10 million – 4 percent p.a.
For any additional balance above P10 million – 1 percent p.a.

Starting August 1, 2020:
For available daily balance of less than or equal to P10 million – 2.5 percent p.a.
For any additional balance above P10 million – 1 percent p.a.

These rates are subject to a 20-percent withholding tax and may change depending on market conditions.

Click here for a guide on how to open an ING account.

CIMB

CIMB is a growing global virtual bank with headquarters in Malaysia. Like ING, you can cash in, transfer money, and pay bills and loans completely online, but with CIMB you can also load your phone. CIMB offers a number of projects on its OCTO mobile banking app. These are UpSave Account, Fast & Fast Plus Account, GSave Account, and Personal Loan. Let’s focus on the first two.

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Online check deposits: No
Transfer charge: Waived
Transfer limit: P50,000
Annual fee: Waived
Minimum required balance: None
Interest rate: 4 percent p.a. for UpSave and 0.5 percent p.a. for Fast and Fast Plus (minus withholding tax of 20 percent)

Comes with: Free life insurance coverage of up to P2 million with a minimum average balance of P100,000 for Upsave. Free mail-delivered debit card for physical ATM transactions for Fast and Fast Plus. 

Click here for a guide on how to open a CIMB UpSave account or a CIMB Fast or Fast Plus account.

GCash

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GCash partnered with CIMB to set up its Save Money (GSave) feature, which acts as a GCash savings account, complete with high-interest rates and access to deposits and withdrawals from the GCash app. GCash Save Money is powered by CIMB although it can be accessed on the GCash app (as well as the OCTO CIMB app), which is why we’re separating it on this list.

Online check deposits: No
Transfer charge: Waived
Transfer limit: P100,000
Annual fee: Waived
Minimum required balance: None, but GSave has a maximum cumulative amount of P100,00 for all GSave accounts for 12 months.
Interest rate: 4.1 percent p.a. (minus withholding tax of 20 percent)

Click here for a guide on how to open a GCash Save Money account.

UnionBank

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UnionBank has been named the best digital bank in the Philippines, although it’s not a branchless bank like ING and CIMB. UnionBank’s online banking innovations set the standard for mobile banking in the Philippines with its efficient app. You can open a digital account, transfer funds, pay bills, and buy load all through its streamlined app.

Online check deposits: Yes
Transfer charge: P0 to P10
Transfer limit: P500,000
Annual fee: Waived
Minimum required balance: P10,000 for Regular Savings
Interest rate: 0.1 percent p.a. (minus withholding tax of 20 percent)

Comes with: Free mail-delivered debit card for physical ATM transactions.

Click here for a guide on how to open a UnionBank account.

Maybank

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Maybank's new product is an online-only account called iSave, which lets customers open an account fully online. The product is based on the premise that this allows users to skip lines by going online. Maybank currently restricts unverified accounts to having a maximum deposit limit of P100,000, but this can be lifted through a Skype or video call meeting with a banker.

Online check deposits: No
Transfer charge: P10
Transfer limit: P50,000 daily
Annual fee: Waived
Minimum required balance: None, but iSave has a maximum aggregate deposit limit of P100,000 for unverified accounts.
Interest rate: 0.25 percent p.a. to 2 percent p.a. (minus government withholding tax). Offering addtional 2 percent p.a. on incremental deposits until June 30, 2020.

Comes with: Mail-delivered debit card for physical ATM transactions after P1,000 initial deposit. 

Click here for a guide on how to open a Maybank iSave account.

Special mention: Tonik

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Tonik is set to enter the emerging virtual bank industry in the Philippines, with plans to launch in the third quarter of 2020. It will join the only two other virtual branchless banks: CIMB and ING.

Tonik is a Singapore-originated global bank, which offers products like savings deposits, current accounts, loans, payments, and cards.

There are no details yet as to the products it will offer to the Philippine market, but this is definitely one to watch for those interested in digital banks in the Philippines.

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About The Author
Anri Ichimura
Staff Writer, Esquire Philippines
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