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First Neobank in the Philippines Launches with Impressive 6% Interest Rate

It is supervised by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
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Southeast Asia’s first digital-only bank, or neobank, is launching in the Philippines on March 18. Tonik offers a completely branchless way of banking and seeks to disrupt the Filipino retail banking industry. Tonik is supervised by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and its deposits are insured by the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation.  

What is a neobank?

Neobank is the global term for digital-only banks, which offer the same services as traditional banks but without the need for physical branches. Neobanks are able to cut fees and offer better interest rates because of the savings they incur for not having physical branches. 

Tonik’s cloud-based solution is powered by global financial technology leaders Mastercard, Finastra, and Amazon Web Services. It enables customers to “Save Big and Dream Bigger” with industry-leading deposit interest rates of up to six percent per annum.  To make saving more relevant and social, Tonik offers unique Stash and Group Stash features, as well as traditional Term Deposits. 

Other Digital Banks in the Philippines

Apart from Tonik, other digital-only banks recognized by the Bangko Sentral include ING, CIMB, KOMO (a subsidiary of EastWest), Hello Money (backed by UAB), and Maybank. But unlike Tonik, the other digital-only banks offer up to 3 percent interest rates on your savings, compared with Tonik's 6 percent, which is higher than the inflation rate of 3 to 4 percent. 

Tonik’s ‘Paluwagan’ aka Stashes

Because Filipinos are culturally social and communal, Tonik offers a unique saving feature called the Group Stash, inspired by a homegrown Filipino saving scheme, the paluwagan system. Using Tonik’s Group Stash, at least three people, including the stash owner, can put in money in their shared stash and earn as much as 4.5 percent interest per annum as they save for a particular goal together. 

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To allow consumers to save-up towards specific goals, Tonik also offers focused saving through the Solo Stash product, a feature that allows money allocated to a particular savings goal to be separated into a different compartment. The Solo Stash can earn as much as four percent in interest per annum and funds can be withdrawn any time they are needed without a locked period.

10,000 Retail Partners in the Philippines

Clients can open a fully functional banking account in under five minutes, using only the Tonik App, an ID and a selfie. The Tonik account can be easily topped up in many convenient ways, including interbank, debit card, or in cash at close to 10,000 retail agents across the country. Immediately upon onboarding, the customer is issued a virtual Mastercard debit card that can be used at a variety of e-merchants. The product offer will soon be expanded to include a physical debit card or take out an all-digital consumer loan.

Tonik Targets Unbanked Filipinos 

The fact that 70 percent of Filipinos remain unbanked shows that the tedious onboarding process of traditional banks and their ridiculously low interest rates do nothing to satisfy the needs of the consumers.  

According to Greg Krasnov, founder and CEO of Tonik, one of their bank’s purposes is to eliminate unfair fees so more Filipinos can own a bank account and grow their savings. 

“We started Tonik because we were fed up with how traditional banks mistreat their customers,” says Krasnov.

“Sadly, traditional banks have completely forgotten how to listen to their customers. That is why we are on a quest to become the first bank brand in the Philippines with a sense of humor and an actual personality that consumers can relate to,” he says. 

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Speaking of sense of humor, he admits Tonik’s name was inspired by the alcoholic drink. But what’s funnier is he used a brand name generator when he found it. 

Tonik’s Layers of Security

Although aiming for a friendly and humorous personality, one of the things Tonik takes extremely seriously is the security of the client’s funds and transactions on its systems. Tonik is the first bank in the Philippines certified as compliant with PCIDSS, the global “gold standard” in payment card security.  Tonik’s systems are also certified by CISA, the top authority in global IT security audits. Client’s access is protected by the highest level of safety through server-based biometrics, while all passwords and OTPs are subject to military-grade encryption.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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