Philippines’ neobank Tonik builds on Google Cloud to speed up financial inclusion

  • Leveraging Google Cloud, Tonik Digital Bank is speeding up the financial inclusion of the underbanked in the Philippines. 
  • The neobank has shortened the process for applying for an account to a few minutes. 
  • The neobank has built an intelligent data lake using Cloud Storage on Google Cloud and BigQuery

The Philippines’ first licensed neobank Tonik Digital Bank (Tonik), is speeding up the financial inclusion of the underbanked in the country by leveraging Google Cloud’s platform.

Tonik, part of Singapore-based fintech firm Tonik Financial, utilized Google Cloud’s expertise in scalable infrastructure, application programming interface (API) management, machine learning (ML), and data analytics to become a leader in open banking innovation and next-generation financial services within 10 months.

The neobank has earned the trust of over 190,000 Filipinos and is entrusted with over US$100 million in consumer deposits to date, of which Google Cloud has been identified as an enabler.

“Google Cloud has enabled us to deliver frictionless and customer-centric services that allow Filipinos to easily embrace the financial system. This collaboration – having played an integral role in Tonik being entrusted with more than US$100 million in consumer deposits to date – will empower us to continue expanding our product portfolio and drive real societal impact across the region,” said Greg Krasnov, founder and CEO, Tonik.

Krasnov added that fewer overheads from being branchless has allowed the neobank to offer interest rates that enhance Filipinos’ financial wellness, but stated that they had to first earn the trust of consumers by investing heavily in a superior customer experience.

APIs for secure interconnectivity

The neobank has also shortened the process for applying for an account to a few minutes instead of a few hours or days while eliminating the need for Filipinos to first visit a physical branch.

Through a combination of Google Cloud’s Apigee API Management platform and Daon, Tonik’s partner for automated customer onboarding and biometric authentication, the neobank has made banking more accessible to rural Filipinos, which accounts for 52.6% of the population.

This combination of technologies, which include the use of optical character recognition APIs, allows Tonik to conform to the necessary know-your-customer and user authentication requirements of the country’s banking license by cross-checking the images of the official documentation uploaded by the user against the official sources that issued the documents.

APIs also allow the neobank to exchange data securely with authorized partners to capture transactions in real-time, allowing users that have made a deposit to see the transaction on their app.

Tonik has also made public the APIs they developed to third-party developers, as opposed to traditional banks that keep APIs private. This is in line with the neobank’s commitment toward supporting broader ecosystem innovation. Apigee also provides a sandbox for developers to test and refine their creations.

A neobank for advancing financial wellness

To further advance financial inclusion and achieve its target of growing its active customer base to a million users by December 2022, the neobank has built an intelligent data lake using Cloud Storage on Google Cloud and BigQuery to provide hyper-personalized customer experiences and help many Filipinos access loans for the first time.

By unifying data generated from every event along the customer journey across systems and applying machine learning, the neobank can implement quick and accurate alternative credit scoring methods. This enables it to serve individuals who have not formally engaged with financial institutions in the past, have no credit histories, and do not qualify for traditional bank loans as a result.

“To drive financial inclusion and transcend physical distance, pivoting to digital-first business models and customer interactions are now a necessity,” said Ruma Balasubramanian, Managing Director, Southeast Asia, Google Cloud.

Ruma added that the neobank is creating an open finance ecosystem that will accrue richer digital user experiences and flexibility for players to securely share and maximize digital assets – with Filipinos the ultimate beneficiaries, through its API and data-led strategy.

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