FINANCIAL TECHNOLOGY (fintech) firms have grouped up to push innovation and promote inclusive growth.

On Sept. 27, fintech players established, an industry group composed of strategic non-bank players, according to a statement send to journalists on Friday.

“As the Philippines is poised towards accelerated digital transformation given its enabling regulatory environment, is a welcome development in harnessing the full potential of digital to further promote and build a sustainable inclusive finance ecosystem,” said FINTQ-Lendr Managing Director Lito M. Villanueva, who also chairs the group.

Lendr is a product developed by FINTQ, the financial technology unit of PLDT Inc. and Smart Communications, Inc.’s Voyager Innovations, Inc.

“FinTech is one of the fastest growing industry globally today. Beyond being just a hype, FinTech is helping drive financial inclusion. With this Alliance, we see the benefits of having a strong trade association to act as the voice from the ranks of innovative companies in the finance sector,” he added.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Nestor A. Espenilla said earlier that banks should “keep pace” with emerging financial technology, to keep economic growth more inclusive.

The National Baseline Survey on Financial Inclusion published by the central bank in 2015 showed that only 43% of Filipino adults held savings, with 68% of them opting to keep their money at home rather than placing them in accounts under financial entities.

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Teresita J. Herbosa welcomed the group’s formation, as it moves with the government’s financial inclusion initiatives.

“The formation of is very timely as all industries in the country are undergoing digital transformation. Having a unified representation will make collaboration and communications more efficient,” Ms. Herbosa said in the same statement.

The group has officials from various financial technology firms such as Oriente Express, Acudeen, CashCredit,, Grab Philippines, Lenddo, Mynt, PayMaya, PawnHero, Seedbox, Smart Communications, Inc., TrueMoney, and Uber Philippines.

“This is a collaboration amongst strategic non-bank players in the digital finance space in the Philippines to articulate its aspirations as an emerging industry, to further stimulate innovation in order to better promote inclusive growth, whilst creating an environment for interoperability to empower every Filipino,” the statement read.

“However, there is much to be done to bridge the digital divide especially in the financial services access area due to the physical and cost barriers presented by traditional ways of working in the banking and finance industry.”

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. – EJCT