A new Los Angeles-based fintech wants to serve Filipino professionals who send money home by making remittances free, said Winston Damarillo, founder of BayaniPay. The all-digital payment service offers free money transfers between California and the Philippines.
BayaniPay was designed to meet the specific requirements of Asian American global professionals, who make up more than 25% of the foreign-born workforce in the United States, the company said in its announcement. It takes its name from “bayani”, the Filipino word for “hero” – a term often used to describe global professionals in their home country. Damarillo said he will start his business with the Filipino population in the United States, but plans to expand to other Asian Americans.
BayaniPay, which describes itself as the first-ever Filipino-American neobank, uses East West Bank for FDIC-insured accounts in the United States
This is the first time East West has made its digital banking platform available to enable Banking as a Service (BaaS). It offers a digital checking account, no account minimums, and a Visa debit card with rewards and promotions. BayaniPay offers digital integration.
East West, headquartered in Pasadena, is Southern California’s largest commercial bank with $60 billion in assets. Parker Shi, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said the nearly 50-year-old bank was founded to provide high-quality, low-cost banking services to Chinese immigrants. and has a geographic footprint in Hong Kong and mainland China.
“We totally identify with BayaniPay’s goal of serving Filipinos as well.” The bank has developed strong digital banking capabilities to meet the cross-border needs of its customers, Shi said. “We introduced direct-to-consumer digital banking to provide customers around the world with comprehensive solutions tailored to their lifestyles. This partnership allows fintech providers like BayaniPay to integrate our products and services to serve a whole new group of customers.
The bank expects to get additional banking business from BayaniPay customers, he added. Across the Pacific, BayaniPay has partnered with BDO Unibank, the largest bank in the Philippines.
“We wanted to show that through the efficiency of connecting two major banks, we can offer savings. We have chosen to remove transaction fees, although we still make margin on FX (foreign exchange). We continue to be a market leader in terms of foreign exchange.
Although BanyaniPay is digital, it offers the option of visiting a branch of East West Bank, which has offices in eight states, to get personalized service. Digital account opening means new customers don’t have to worry about providing three or four referrals, like he had to when he opened his first checking account in the United States, Damarillo said.
“We want to make it less intimidating.”
Easy Digital Checking also removes the high fees it remembers. BayaniPay will also soon be rolling out direct debit functionality from its partnership with Seafood City that will allow users to pay at checkout using the app. It will debit their easy digital checking account and offer 1%-2% cash back.