LOANS disbursed by Union Bank of the Philippines, Inc.’s (UnionBank) financial technology (fintech) unit to small businesses through its online marketplace SeekCap surged by 50% in the first half.

SeekCap disbursed a total of P688 million in loans to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the first six months of the year, up from the P459 million in the same period last year, UBX Philippines Corp. said in a statement on Monday.

“Traditionally, MSMEs are the most disadvantaged when it comes to financing, because the stringent requirements of banks for loans are geared against them. A big part of our mission towards financial inclusion involves democratizing loans in their favor to create new opportunities for Filipinos everywhere and to contribute to overall economic development,” UBX President and Chief Executive Officer John Januszczak said.

SeekCap also recorded a 10% increase in loan applications and a 22% rise in lender partners during the period as businesses continued to grow amid the economy’s continued recovery.

“It is important to us in SeekCap to have a wide range of lenders to ascertain the inclusiveness of the platform. Different enterprises have different needs, and we believe we can address this by being agnostic and being open to multiple lenders with different product specialties,” UBX Business Lead for Lending Mario Jordan “Magellan” Fetalino III said.

SeekCap is planning to partner with more MSME ecosystems, e-commerce, franchising, and wholesale players to further its reach, UBX said.

“Financial inclusion is an ongoing endeavor. Most importantly, it’s collaborative. At least 99% of businesses in the Philippines are classified as MSMEs, and by providing them with access to funding is to make a significant impact. We hope to make more opportunities for them in the future by ensuring the success of our lending platform,” Mr. Januszczak said.

Through SeekCap, borrowers have access to loan products provided by partner banks that can be tailored to their needs.

The loans offered on the platform can be processed in 24 hours, compared to the minimum 30-day approval time for most banks, UBX said. 

UBX’s listed parent UnionBank saw its attributable net income decline by 12.87% year on year to P3 billion in the second quarter.

This brought its first-half net income to P6.34 billion.

UnionBank’s shares closed at P70.30 apiece on Monday, up by P2 or 2.93% from Friday’s finish. — AMCS