Corporate News

By Imee Charlee C. Delavin, Senior Reporter

Telstra unit makes first investment in PHL start-up

Posted on October 11, 2016

AUSTRALIAN telecommunications giant Telstra Corp.’s venture capital arm has invested in C88 Financial Technologies Pte Ltd., its first investment in a technology start-up in the Philippines.

C88 owns and operates financial Web sites eCompareMo in the Philippines and CekAja in Indonesia. The platform links banks and insurers with clients looking to apply for loans, financing and insurance products, among others. C88 also cooperates Premiro, a licensed insurance e-brokerage services provider in Indonesia.

In an interview on Oct. 7, Stephanie Chung, the company’s local managing director, said Telstra Ventures’ “substantial investment” in C88 will be used to grow its market share, add new products and recruit an excellent financial technology (fintech) leadership team in Manila. She declined to disclose financial details of the deal.

For its Philippine operations, C88 said its eCompareMo Web site is “the largest financial Web site” in the country, with direct banking contracts with seven banks and four insurance firms. The Web site receives half a million visits per month and completes about 25,000 orders a month. ECompareMo has 10 more contracts with banks and six with insurance firms in various stages of approvals.

J.P. Ellis, C88 cofounder and group CEO, estimated eCompareMo’s market share in the Philippines is “about 60%.”

“We recently welcomed a new partner on board, Telstra Ventures. We’re very happy to have Telstra on board as a partner and we believe this will help accelerate and take the company to the next level of growth... We’re happy to announce that we are Telstra Ventures’ first investment in a technology start-up company in the Philippines,” Mr. Ellis said during the same interview last Friday.

Telstra Ventures managing director Matthew Koertge earlier said C88 combines across its platforms a personalized data-driven experience for consumers with easy-to-use Web and mobile experiences, as well as back office infrastructure, including call centers and sales distribution networks to complete transactions, adding that C88 is a market leader in the e-commerce sector.

“They offer e-commerce ‘apply now’ functionality to consumers that is directly linked to the issuing bank or insurer, which means it is easy to use and creates a new customer onboarding channel for financial institutions,” the Telstra executive was quoted as saying in an earlier statement.

Mr. Ellis said C88 is currently in an upward trajectory and is “entering a rapid growth phase.” He expects the company’s continuous expansion, as it rides on the Philippine growth story which he said is “very exciting” for entrepreneurs.

“The fundamentals of the Philippines is very exciting for us. The Philippines is a growing, dynamic and stable economy so we’re really looking forward to being a part of it,” he added.

Launched in the Philippines early in 2015, is described as the country’s leading and complete comparison portal aimed at Filipinos looking for quick, secure, and complete banking and insurance information.

Customers are provided with detailed information about their preferred credit cards -- credit limit, promos & discounts, annual fee -- and insurance (coverage and premium) to help them find the perfect product that suits their lifestyle.

Telstra Corp., Australia’s largest telco operator earlier intended to enter the Philippine market but was unable to reach a commercial arrangement with San Miguel Corp. on setting up a wireless joint venture in the country.

Telstra confirmed in August 2015 it was in talks for several months with SMC about investing up to $1 billion to create a third mobile operator in the country.