A new bank arrived in the Philippines this year. But don’t expect to see brick-and-mortar branches appear on the streets of Manila, because the new brand, GoTyme Bank, has a unique approach for a new kind of consumer.
Instead of opening the doors of physical branches, GoTyme Bank’s launch was marked by the appearance of special digital kiosks that will be deployed throughout the retail ecosystem of the Gokongwei Group. From supermarkets, department stores and even convenience stores, this approach will help Filipinos make the move to mobile banking and financial services offered by the new venture.
A partnership between the Gokongwei Group and Singapore-based digital banking group Tyme – which operates across Asia and South Africa – GoTyme Bank is to be led by Nate Clarke, President and CEO, and one of the founding members of the Tyme Group.
Prior to joining the business in 2012 to start its first operations in South Africa, Clarke worked in senior management consulting roles with high-profile names including Deloitte.
Clarke says he was compelled to join the fintech industry when he found himself ready for new career and life challenges. “I was at a conference in Washington, DC, where I was based more than 10 years ago and saw a presentation about a very successful digital wallet in Kenya,” says Clarke. “I heard about this phenomenon in East Africa where digital wallets and digital banking were transforming a country. And I said, ‘This is what I want to do with my life’.”
New GoTyme Bank customers looking for meaningful money options
Before the pandemic, Filipinos had already become used to the convenience of conducting business and social tasks on mobile phones, explains Albert Tinio, co-CEO, and Chief Commercial Officer at GoTyme Bank, who also points out that Filipinos make up the largest percentage of Facebook users in 2022.
“After they became comfortable with mobile phones, they started looking for things that are more practical, more every day and meaningful,” says Tinio. “And from there, they saw more financial services being offered. At the same time, banks and regulators in the Philippines now have a mandate to increase financial inclusion, so those two elements are driving the industry right now.”
When the new GoTyme Bank brand went live in October it immediately appealed to consumers with an awareness of, and appetite for, world-class banking products, according to Clarke. “This will start with payments and savings, but there will be a move to investments and credit. The second phase that follows is actually more about serving all Filipinos, including those outside the cities.
“The main reason people are going to join the first phase is for the customer service and experience, as this is quite different from what we call the ‘traditional digital banks’,” says Clarke. “GoTyme Bank is a twist on digital banks, through a combination of a human and digital touch.”
Combining Gokongwei Group brand and reputation with Tyme’s trusted technology
The Gokongwei Group represents one of the largest and most diversified collections of Filipino companies. The group is composed of JG Summit Holdings Inc. which has business interests in food manufacturing, air transport, real estate and property development, banking, and petrochemicals; Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc.(RRHI), which includes supermarket, department store, and speciality retail brand operations; the Summit Media Group; and other privately held companies.
Working from headquarters in Singapore as well as offices in Hong Kong and Vietnam, Tyme designs, builds, and commercialises digital banks for the mass market, with particular expertise in serving underserved and underbanked populations.
The new GoTyme Bank venture combines the trusted Gokongwei Group brand, along with its reputation and multi-industry operations, with Tyme’s globally proven digital banking technology and hands-on experience to add an exciting new player to the Philippines’ banking community.
GoTyme Bank will leverage the Gokongwei Group’s extensive ecosystem, which is highly integrated into the daily lives of Filipinos – where they already shop, eat and spend family time. This distribution strategy will assist in the democratisation of financial services, addressing the needs of all Filipinos regardless of age, income, or geography.
Human ambassadors help make the move to digital banking
The kiosks are to be deployed in Robinsons Retails’network across the country. New customers will have the opportunity to meet with human bank ambassadors who will handle the entire onboarding process there and then.
“Our kiosks are capable of capturing personal data and identification documents, including biometrics, fingerprints, and other data,” explains Clarke. “It can then print and release a debit card there in the store – and this entire process happens in five minutes or less.”
Another example of the GoTyme Bank human touch includes the opportunity for customers to call, chat or email the company 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Customers can also benefit from the new digital bank’s unique rewards programme that turns ‘points into pesos’, which can instantly be credited to an account.
GoTyme Bank will provide secure and easy onboarding through both an app and digital kiosks that are conveniently located throughout the mall and retail footprint of the Gokongwei Group.
“In South Africa, 3 million of our 3.5 million customers joined TymeBank through our digital kiosks deployed in retail environments,” explains Clarke. “We believe the combination of this technology and the Gokongwei Group’s nationwide retail footprint provides GoTyme a clear path to rapid growth.”
GoTyme Bank builds an ecosystem of partners and service providers
As well as utilising the existing partner ecosystems of Gokongwei Group and Tyme, GoTyme Bank is creating its own ecosystem of partners and service providers.
These include Daon, the Digital Identity Trust company that helps businesses mitigate fraud, reduce friction, ensure regulatory compliance, and deliver a seamless customer experience. Daon enables clients to easily and accurately proof, verify, authenticate and secure customer identities at every trust point across the entire customer lifecycle. With industry-leading biometric authentication technologies at its core, Daon’s technology ensures customer identities are accurately verified, easily asserted and safely recovered.
Also working with GoTyme Bank is GDS Link and WSO2, the former being a global leader in credit data and analytics, combining powerful artificial intelligence technology with credit and fraud risk management software and data. WSO2, meanwhile, provides GoTyme Bank with API management, integration, and customer identity and access management (CIAM) services playing a key role in enabling the bank to deliver its multichannel offering and seamless customer experience across those channels.
“As we grew from a startup, using WSO2 frameworks allowed us to focus more on building new customer experiences and less on integration and digital identity challenges. This is certainly something that could benefit many companies” says GoTyme Bank CTO Chris Bennett.
WSO2 handles more than 60 trillion transactions and manages over a billion identities each year through its services, provided by over 900 employees worldwide working from offices in Australia, Brazil, Germany, India, Sri Lanka, the UAE, the UK, and the US.
“Both WSO2 and GoTyme Bank want our teams to focus on what they are best at,” says Bennett. “We share this in our cultures. Over time we’ve moved to use more of WSO2’s managed services so we can each concentrate on our best work for clients.”
People powering the process of financial inclusion in the Philippines
GoTyme Bank will employ 362 bank ambassadors at 226 kiosk locations by year-end. Both Clarke and Tinio say that the eclectic mix of professionals will play a crucial role in bringing new financial services to an increasingly sophisticated customer base in the Philippines.
“We come from a wide range of industries, and I think what brought us together is a genuine desire to build something – to build and leave a legacy,” says Tinio. “We come from banking, and there are also fintech people, there are FMCG people, there are telco people, there are logistics people, and all of these people are freely, organically sharing their experience and contributing to building a new service.”
Clarke agrees with this, emphasising that the new team is having fun working on the venture – and this has a lot to do with the approach taken to recruit the new team.
“We were quite deliberate regarding recruitment,” says Clarke. “Because it's very different recruiting people for something you're building from scratch compared to recruiting for something that is already running.
“We wanted to build a diverse group, as Abet has said, but on top of that, we wanted to attract people with a few scars and some unfinished business,” explains Clarke with a smile. “We’re looking for people who have had success in our careers, but who have also had some near big misses where we felt like we didn't quite make it, but know now that we can do it better.”
This approach has led to a shared belief within the new team, emerging from the combination of rock-solid experience and “scar tissue” from previous projects.
“We want people who are used to being in the trenches, doing the hands-on work, but we believe that personal growth and stretching yourself is good for the culture and good for motivation,” says Clarke.