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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Jeff Navarro appointed as Visa’s new country manager for Philippines, Guam

Manila, Philippines – Global digital payments company Visa has appointed Jeff Navarro as its new country manager for the Philippines and Guam. He succeeds previous country manager Dan Wolbert, who has moved to a new role for Visa North America.

Navarro was previously the regional vice president for the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indochina at Western Union. He also served as the president and chairman of the board at Western Union Processing Services Inc. Prior to joining Western Union, he has also worked with SMART Communications and Shell across sales, brand, and business development roles.

Speaking on his appointment, he said, “It is a great pleasure for me to join Visa, a global leader in payments and money movement, areas which are near and dear to my heart. I am excited and honoured to have the opportunity to lead a team of seasoned professionals, who share the drive and passion to further widen financial inclusion for all Filipinos.” 

He added, “I look forward to working closely with our clients, fintechs, the regulator, and all stakeholders to grow digital payments in the country, and enable individuals, businesses, and economies to thrive.”

Meanwhile, Tareq Muhmood, Visa’s Group Country Manager for Regional Southeast Asia, said, “I am delighted to have Jeff lead our team in the Philippines and Guam as the country manager. Jeff’s regional experience and in-depth knowledge of the financial services industry will be an asset for Visa and will serve him well in leading our team.”

He added, “Jeff and the team will drive our business agenda with clients, consumers, and regulators in the Philippines and Guam, in line with our purpose to uplift everyone, everywhere by being the best way to pay and be paid.” 

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SME Featured Southeast Asia

Validus, Citi establish US$100m facility to drive SME financing

Singapore – SME growth financing platform Validus and global financial services company Citi have established a US$100m securitisation facility, collateralised by SME loans originated by Validus in Singapore. This will drive SME financing in Southeast Asia.

The facility is also supported by First Plus Asset Management, a Singapore-based multi-asset investment manager focused on Asia structured credit and equities.

Milena Naitoh, head of corporate development at Validus, said, “This collaboration with Citi underscores the quality of our origination, credit portfolio management, strength and resilience of our business, in today’s market environment. With this evolution in our financing strategy, as well as the support of Citi as an established player in the asset-backed securities space, we are now even better positioned to support the growth of SMEs with accessible and effortless business finance.” 

She added, “As Validus continues to extend its position as a leading all-in-one SME finance platform in Southeast Asia, this securitised lending structure, together with a diversified financing and product strategy, will enable us to grow at a much greater scale. We are honoured that Citi has chosen to collaborate with us on this landmark securitised lending transaction with a fintech start-up in Southeast Asia, and we are looking at replicating this transaction playbook across other markets.” 

Validus is currently raising its Series C equity round for an undisclosed amount. The combination of the securitisation facility and Series C equity funding will further drive Validus’ expansion plans as it starts to introduce neo-banking products in other Southeast Asia markets. 

Validus’ proprietary algorithmic credit models and uniquely aggregated alternative underwriting data has driven reliable historical performance in origination, underwriting and collections. Since its launch in 2015, Validus has disbursed over US$1.6 billion across more than 65,000 loans to small businesses in Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. 

Meanwhile, Lei Tie, co-founder and head of structured credit at First Plus, said, “We are thrilled to be part of the transaction, which has established a gold standard for non-recourse asset based financing for Southeast Asia, and to be able to support Validus on their next phase of growth.” 

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Marketing Featured ANZ

Aussie fintech Block Earner launches first-ever OOH campaign in Sydney

Sydney Australia – Block Earner, a blockchain-powered fintech company, is moving blockchain and decentralised finance out of tech savvy circles by embracing standard advertising codes with its first-ever OOH campaign in Sydney. The campaign is designed to increase awareness and brand recognition in an increasingly competitive space, and deliver the next generation of financial products to Australians. 

With a minimalist design, the ad simply invites on-the-move people to search for Block Earner online, where a multi-channel digital marketing campaign has been designed to boost awareness, engagement and conversion. Search results also provide curious consumers with a flurry of established and trusted sources that detail the Block Earner story, but also invite them to learn what decentralised finance has in store for them. 

About the choice of an outdoor campaign, Colin Williamson, head of digital and growth at Block Earner, said they want to be in the mainstream consciousness.

“Decentralised finance has many benefits for consumers, but it’s a new space, and we need to help grow the general awareness of it, overcome scepticism and build trust with the people, and give them the tools to grasp the concept, Williamson said.

“This outdoor campaign acts as a portal to a discovery journey inviting visitors to reflect on a new financial way forward, with three layers of narrative around overcoming rising inflation, moving on from legacy financial services that do not benefit them, and unlocking the future of finance,” Williamson added.

The campaign sees a full tram, 50 buses, a double decker, 500 seats, 10 billboards and 82 urban lights wearing the Aussie fintech’s colours for three months. Block Earner worked with Adholics for the campaign planning, Torch Media, Move Media and JCDecaux for outdoor assets and placements, and Studio 3am for the creative and design. 

The digital campaign includes social media amplification, programmatic advertising, and in-game advertising in online and Web3 video games, as well as different landing pages on Block Earner’s website that will be served to visitors based on where they are on their journey through the marketing funnel.

Williamson continued, “Coupling outdoor and digital advertising, with a high-level and simple messaging, Block Earner is aiming to stimulate the curiosity of Australians who understand alternative savings options exist but feel unsure of where to start, and commonly associate decentralised finance with volatility, scams and risk. Instead, we want them to see a wide scope of possibilities, without hurdles, risk or complexity, just better yields for the people to go through these tough times.”

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SME Featured South Asia

State Bank of Pakistan launches challenge fund for local SMEs

Islamabad, Pakistan – The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has announced the launch of a challenge fund for local small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs). According to their latest circular, SBP instructs local banks to develop innovative technological solutions to cater the banking needs of the SME sector. In addition, this will also enable the SME sector to increase the access and usage of digital financial services.

Said challenge fund will be focusing on developing SME banking solutions, digital payment solutions for SMEs, developing e-commerce or online marketplace, and digitising loans application and credit management.

The grant size will be determined according to the financing requirements of the proposal under consideration. However, each grantee will contribute 15% of the total cost. Depending upon the quality and innovations of the proposal, the grant size can vary, however one bank will get only one grant. 

The duration of the projects to be implemented through CFS grant should not exceed 8 months.

In addition, commercial banks–both conventional and Islamic, are eligible to apply for grants under the fund. Banks can also apply in partnership with non-banking financial Institutions (NBFIs), fintechs, electronic money institutions (EMI) and software houses. However, lead responsibility will rest with the applicant bank.

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SME Featured East Asia

HK’s monetary authority announces enhancements to SME Financing Guarantee Scheme

Hong Kong – The Hong Kong Monetary Authority has announced new enhancements to its SME Financing Guarantee Scheme, where the application period for the 80% Guarantee Product, the 90% Guarantee Product and the Special 100% Loan Guarantee will be extended to 30 June, 2023.

The maximum loan amount per enterprise under the Special 100% Loan Guarantee will be raised from the total amount of employee wages and rents for 18 months to that for 27 months, subject to a ceiling of HK$9m, originally HK$6m, and the maximum repayment period will be extended from eight years to ten years.

In addition, HKMC Insurance Limited (HKMCI) will also extend the principal moratorium arrangement under the SFGS by six months to a total of 30 months, and the application period for principal moratorium will be extended to end-December 2022.

“An option for borrowers to resume making partial principal repayment for one year will be provided, allowing borrowers to resume normal repayment gradually if they are willing and capable. Whether a borrower chooses the principal moratorium arrangement or the partial principal repayment option, the loan tenor and the guarantee period will generally be extended accordingly,” the authority said.

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SME Featured Southeast Asia

Investree, Netbank collaborate to serve up PH SMEs

Manila, Philippines – SME-centric financial platform Investree and banking-as-a-service company Netbank have recently announced a collaboration, targeted at supporting the development of SMEs across the Philippines. Through the partnership, Netbank allocated funds for Investree clients to support the initiatives that will be carried out in 2022 to contribute towards the Philippines’ economic growth, provision of new jobs, and paving the way for scaling up businesses.

In addition, Investree is awaiting its Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) permit to operate in Visayas and Mindanao which will allow the service to reach nationwide after being able to serve SMEs in Luzon Area providing convenient access to funds and marketplace platforms connecting SMEs and institutional investors.

The collaboration between Netbank and Investree aims to fill in the gap of local SME lending, which at the moment is very underserved in the Philippines. SME loans as a percentage of GDP is approximately 3%, compared to 37% in Thailand and other countries in the region. As a result, SMEs struggle to grow, slowing job creation and economic development.

According to Kok Chuan Lim, co-founder and CEO of Investree Philippines, they have been working with the team at Netbank since they obtained their license earlier this year to jointly develop services that will improve ease of use for their SME issuers and reduce credit risks for their note investors. 

Lim also added that they are confident that their partnership will further enhance the adoption of crowdfunding as a viable working capital source for their SME clients.

“The COVID-19 crisis has taken a huge toll on small companies in the Philippines, businesses have been affected by lower sales and difficulty accessing inputs to reduced logistics services and clients not paying bills. To help SMEs bounce back from this, Investree and Netbank are collaborating to expand the loans to this critical sector,” Lim stated.

He added, “Providing account opening services and investing in crowdfunding services will allow Investree clients to finance their trade receivables, giving SMEs vital cash to accelerate their growth. This partnership also allows Investree to accelerate its growth and ultimately serve the underserved SME market.”

The collaboration between Investree and Netbank would also contribute to accelerating financial inclusion within the country.

Meanwhile, Jaymar G. Mendoza, co-founder and head of operations at Netbank, commented that they hope to support the efforts in increasing financial inclusion within the country.

“We aim to combine both expertise and flexibility that banking and fintech has to offer to create more impact for the market. The partnership between a regulated bank and an alternative lender is very powerful wherein the Banks bring balance sheet management experience and processes and the alternative lenders bring a deep understanding of their clients,” Mendoza added.

Lim further added, “With the support from Netbank, Investree Philippines will be harnessing the expertise and power of technology to give SMEs vital cash to accelerate their growth to increase financial inclusion and ultimately help the Philippines’ economy. Also, we would like to equally serve all the SMEs in the nation, therefore, inquiring about the permit to operate Visayas and Mindanao will allow us to do that. We would like to keep innovating and include more businesses in the Philippines.”

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Marketing Featured South Asia

IDFC First Bank gets creative with World Mental Health Day campaign—using financial lingo

Mumbai, India – For the commemoration of the World Mental Health Day last 10 October, Indian bank IDFC First Bank, which is part of the larger financial group Infrastructure Development Finance Company, has launched its latest social media campaign dedicated to promoting mental health – none other than by the use of financial terms.

Conceptualized by digital agency RepIndia, the campaign utilizes said language to present a new meaning from a mental health perspective. For instance, the term ‘investment’ is defined in the campaign as “therapy to ensure that you’re not subject to any mental health risk,” and ‘loan’ being defined as “lending an ear with interest”.

“By thus connecting commonly used financial terms with mental health issues and solutions, IDFC FIRST Bank hopes to be able to remove the stigma and taboo surrounding mental health conversations and drive significant conversations,” the bank said in a press statement.

In a statement given to MARKETECH APAC, RepIndia stated that the campaign aimed to talk about mental health from a way of investing in oneself with the goal of normalizing the conversation just like financial security is already commonly practiced in our society.

“The goal was to redefine the way we look at mental health from the perspective of financial terms that are more commonly present in our vocabulary,” the agency stated.

Said sentiment of normalizing talks on mental health stems from the fact that the aspect of mental health advocacy remains stigmatized and in a ‘crisis. 

“While financial reports have suggested that 70% of Indians now place greater emphasis on securing the future by increasing investments and savings, the mental health pandemic the nation is battling with continues to remain a crisis,” the agency stated.

The World Mental Health Day was first started as an initiative back in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization, which aimed at promoting mental health advocacy, as well as educating the public. For this year, the observance of said date revolved around the theme ‘Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality’.

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Marketing Featured South Asia

Bangladesh seeks global rep of capital market and has just issued a tender to find eligible marketers

Bangladesh – Not all the time do you see a tender by a country’s securities and exchanges commission for mainstream work such as marketing and communications, but the country of Bangladesh has officially expressed its desire to front its economic development and capital market in the global arena, according to the tender document itself, released by the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) Sunday, 18 July. 

According to the tender, BSEC is looking to engage Bloomberg Media, one of the leading providers of business and financial news content globally, to be able to reach diversified investors through a global campaign. BSEC said that it wants to present its potential and economic development and growth record of accomplishment in terms of capital market to attract investors from foreign nationals. 

BSEC has been continuously developing the country’s capital market to make it the main source of long-term financing. In growing its bond market, it has already introduced new products such as Exchange Traded Funds, Venture Capital, Private Equity, and Impact Funds. 

The contract offered by BSEC will run for 16 months. Specifically, it is on the lookout for entities to “supply integrated marketing and communication services” to position the country in Bloomberg’s media and digital platform. 

The commissioned marketing work will run under the banner ‘The Rising of Bengal Tiger: Potentials of Bangladesh Capital Market’. Under the campaign, Bloomberg Media will create content for television, print, and digital media, furthermore, it will be partnered to host a content hub for Bangladesh on its website to support the country. 

During the said period, BSEC has already planned to organize a series of roadshows through its own arrangement in different parts of the world to portray a ‘Rising Bangladesh’ and its capital market as an attractive place for foreign investment “with better returns.” 

For the success of the campaign, BSEC said it would be needing services from a reputed marketing and communication agency that will act as a primary service provider in creating a dedicated campaign-specific content portal. The said portal will include roadshow registration facilities, news updates, upcoming event details, queries, and feedback, and will utilize all contents for TV, print, and digital media prepared by Bloomberg Media.

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SME Featured ANZ

This newly-registered NZ stock exchange caters specifically for SMEs

Auckland, New Zealand – In a move to cater to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country, stock exchange platform Catalist has announced that it has now acquired a license to open a public market for SMEs who are too small to be indexed by the New Zealand’s Exchange (NZX).

Previously operating under the private investment sector, Catalist’s platform is designed to raise up to NZ$20m a year from the public.

Catalist’s public market targets SME listings with an initial value of between NZ$6m and NZ$60m – considerably lower than what would be expected for a traditional stock market listing.

According to Colin Magee, CEO at Catalist , the green light to start trading with retail investors came after the Financial Markets Conduct (Catalist Public Market) Regulations 2021 were passed late last month.

Catalist has worked on the licence and legislation with the Ministry of Business and Innovation (MBIE) and the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) over the past two years to simplify the public listing process, creating a considerably lighter regulatory environment

“SMEs make up a majority of New Zealand businesses, so there’s a real need for those with growth potential to have better access to capital, and equally for investors to have better access to SME investments, to increase economic growth and job creation. Catalist’s public market means smaller businesses can now access public investment, with significantly lessened costs and administrative burdens – and without compromising investor protections,” Magee stated.

He also added that they are already working through the listing process with a number of businesses – and investors can sign up for an account on their website, so they can trade when there’s an auction running.

Differing from a traditional stock exchange, Catalist uses regular auctions, rather than continuous trading, allowing for fairer pricing and increased liquidity for financial products that don’t trade very frequently – often the case with smaller businesses. 

Regular auctions also allow for alternative disclosure provisions, a key difference with Catalist’s new market, where businesses only disclose information for each auction, rather than continuously.

Magee explains that traditional stock markets don’t work for SMEs because the costs, time spent on compliance, continuous disclosure obligations and focus on short-term share price get in the way of day-to-day operations and focusing on the long-term health of the business.

“In the past, we’ve seen growth markets, such as NZX’s ‘NXT’ take a traditional continuous trading approach and fail to meet the needs of SMEs. We’ve taken the learning from that and use periodic trading and disclosure instead, which has proved successful in other jurisdictions. Investors can now access well-regulated investment opportunities in SMEs, where they can be confident in the standard of information they receive,” Magee added.

The platform will act as a stepping stone for these registered SMEs to slowly transition into the traditional stock exchange, such as the NZX.

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SME Featured Southeast Asia

Access to external finance a difficulty among Filipino small businesses: survey

Manila, Philippines – Despite the majority of Filipino small businesses successfully deploying digital finance gateways, access to external finance, on the other hand, may hamper their business growth, new survey from professional accounting body CPA Australia shows.

According to the report., cash flow difficulties are having a negative effect on some Filipino small businesses as 64% of respondents sought external funds last year; with 43% seeking funds for business growth, and 32% for survival.

However, only 13% of respondents found accessing external finance easy or very easy, the lowest of the markets surveyed. This may explain why respondents mainly sought funds from friends or family (21%) or personal resources (21%), compared to 15% from a bank. Only 16% of Filipino small businesses expect accessing external finance to be easy or very easy in 2021, which is lower than the survey average of 28%.

Part of this issue can be attributed to COVID-19 restrictions, with more than half (58%) of Filipino respondents reported being negatively impacted by COVID-19. However, 46% say they have already recovered or expect to recover in 2021, while 62% of small businesses grew in 2020. 

Filipino small businesses made greater use of digital technologies in 2020 as the pandemic accelerated the use of e-commerce. Around 27% of Filipino small businesses reported that they began or increased their focus on online sales in response to COVID-19.

Meanwhile, 61% of respondents received more than 10% of sales from digital or online payment technologies such as GCash, DragonPay, and PesoPay, up from 47% in 2019. About 62% of small businesses received more than 1% of their revenue from online sales, up from 50% in 2019.

According to Mark Chau, regional general manager of business development international at CPA Australia, dynamism among Filipino small businesses should help drive an economic rebound this year as restrictions are gradually eased and global economic activity returns to normal.

“The survey shows that small businesses in the Philippines are eager to innovate and engage with customers through social media. A vibrant and youthful workforce together with growing domestic demand supported the sector in 2020,” Chaus stated.

About 73% of Filipino small businesses expect to grow in 2021, with 52% intending to increase employees. 22% anticipate that revenue from overseas markets will grow strongly, while 31% say they will introduce a new product, process or service to the local or overseas markets, the second highest of the markets surveyed.

“Difficulties in accessing external finance may hinder business plans to hire more employees, invest in technology or expand to new markets. Small businesses in the Philippines should consider seeking professional advice to maximize their success in obtaining external finance,” Chau added.