Connect with us

TECHNOLOGY

Tonik builds on Google Cloud to accelerate financial inclusion, open banking innovation in PH

January 12, 2022 1:11 p.m.

SINGAPORE – Tonik Digital Bank (“Tonik”), the Philippines’ first digital-only neobank, is tapping Google Cloud’s advanced platform to accelerate financial inclusion for all Filipinos.

Leveraging Google Cloud’s expertise in scalable infrastructure, application programming interface (API) management, machine learning (ML) and data analytics, the bank has taken just 10 months to become an established leader in open banking innovation and delivering next-generation financial services.

  Tonik, which is part of Singapore-headquartered fintech firm Tonik Financial Pte. Ltd., was launched in March 2021 after obtaining an initial rural bank license from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). Its digital platform provides core services like deposits with interest rates of up to six percent per annum.

There are also unique features for customers to create separate pockets of savings to meet specific goals over time called “Stashes,” such as affording a vacation, a college education, or accumulating an emergency fund.

“Fewer overheads from being branchless allows us to offer industry-leading interest rates that enhance Filipinos’ financial wellness, but our value proposition cannot be solely driven by lower costs. We have had to first earn the trust of consumers by investing heavily in a superior customer experience,” said Greg Krasnov, Founder and CEO, Tonik. “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.”

Secure APIs Open Up New Possibilities for Consumers and Developers

  With the BSP requiring banks to conduct due diligence by verifying each customer’s identity to prevent fraud and money laundering, applying for an account traditionally involves individuals having to first visit a physical branch to present valid government-issued identification (ID) to an officer.

This makes it difficult for millions of Filipinos to open accounts or make deposits. Unlike urban cities that have bank branches or ATMs at every corner, the people in rural Philippines – who account for 52.6 percent of the total population[1] – must travel long distances and arrive before the branch closes.

  By using Google Cloud’s Apigee API Management platform to build and scale open banking APIs, Tonik could quickly integrate its mobile application with capabilities from third-party providers to make account opening and cash deposits fast, seamless and convenient.

To help Filipinos set up accounts in under five minutes – instead of hours or days, Tonik interoperates with Daon, its partner for automated customer onboarding and biometric authentication.

The process starts with Tonik asking the customer for a selfie and a scanned copy of their ID. Tonik extracts text from these images through Google Cloud’s optical character recognition (OCR) APIs and shares the information with Daon through another trusted API.

Daon then cross-checks the customer’s identity against official sources that issued the ID. This complex data flow is invisible to the user, who only needs to download the Tonik mobile application, verify their identity for account opening, and start banking.

Using APIs, Tonik also exchanges data securely with authorized ecosystem partners like 7-Eleven convenience stores and pawn shops to capture transactions in real-time. When a user makes a deposit at a 7-Eleven, which are readily available across the Philippines, they would see the completed transaction on their Tonik application and start earning interest immediately.

 “Interoperability is core to our business strategy and everything on our digital banking application is therefore API-driven,” said Arivuvel Ramu, Chief Technology Officer, Tonik. “As our architectural foundation, Google Cloud’s industry-leading Apigee API Management platform allows us to unlock new digital channels, expand our business model, and generate new revenue streams. While APIs are not new to conventional banks, they tend to be private APIs tailored for a specific partner, which means third parties cannot reuse that API. In line with our commitment toward supporting broader ecosystem innovation, we have taken the private APIs that we have developed and converted them into public APIs.”

 Third-party developers who want to create new features or services for Tonik’s ecosystem of partners and users can now reuse its public APIs to do so expeditiously. Apigee also provides a sandbox environment for developers to test and refine what they have created. Issues that would cause downtime can then be identified and rectified before the feature or service is authorized and rolled out to its intended users.

  “Customers trust us with sensitive information like demographic and transaction data. As a custodian of data and a facilitator of open banking innovation, it is imperative that we uphold the highest standards of consent management and API security. By capturing and managing customer consent on what data we are permitted to share with authorized third parties, Apigee ensures that we comply with stringent regulatory requirements like PSD2. Apigee simultaneously secures our APIs to avoid data breaches by malicious users,” said Ramu.

  Pooling Insights to Deliver Financial Wellness and Hyper Personalized Customer Experiences

  Tonik currently serves more than 190,000 customers. To further advance financial inclusion and achieve its target of growing its active customer base to a million users by December 2022, the bank 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.  With data generated from every event along the customer journey and residing across systems, connecting datasets and analyzing them manually is an uphill task. A cloud-based contact center software, for example, captures customer interactions and feedback across channels, while a core banking system captures deposits and withdrawals.

  By unifying data across systems and applying machine learning, Tonik can, for instance, 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. Tonik has recently pioneered a consumer lending product called “Quick Loan” without the need for credit histories or collateral, followed by approvals within 30 minutes and real-time disbursement.

  “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. “Tonik, through its mature API- and data-led strategy, 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. Google Cloud is proud to be a part of Tonik’s innovation journey. We look forward to supporting the bank’s continuous commitment toward serving the Philippines’ unbanked and underbanked, while it scales for growth and empowers the region’s fintech developer community.”

TECHNOLOGY

Top AI camera phone HONOR Magic6 Pro now available nationwide with free HONOR Watch GS3! 

9:05 p.m. May 20, 2024

Leading smart devices provider in the Philippines, HONOR, continues to expand all over in the country as it opens its latest HONOR Experience Store in SM City San Lazaro. It marked also the First Day Sale of the impressive HONOR Magic6 Pro, dubbed as the Top AI Camera Phone available in the market, currently priced at P59,999. 

“This incredible Magic AI camera phone to date immensely made waves in the market and now that it’s officially available here in the Philippines, we’re also excited to have a double celebration as unveil our newest experience store in SM City San Lazaro,” said Stephen Cheng, HONOR Philippines Vice President. 

The HONOR Magic6 Pro is available with FREE HONOR Watch GS3 worth Php 11,999 when purchased in physical stores from May 18 to May 31.  

The store was officially opened through a ribbon-cutting ceremony executed by Bluelite Operations Manager Joseph Chua, Bluelite Purchasing Manager Hyacinth Simbulan, SM San Lazaro Asst. Mall Manager Darcy Royo, HONOR PH Brand Marketing Manager Joepy Libo-on, HONOR PH Retails Sales Director Tom Yuan, and HONOR PH PR Manager Pao Oga. 

To extend the fun and excitement, consumers participated during the Guess the Phone Challenge as they familiarize themselves with various HONOR smartphones and identify their lucky pick on the spot.  

HONOR Magic6 Pro’s Pro-Level Specs 

The HONOR Magic6 Pro is known for its impressive camera with 180MP resolution, Second-generation Silicon-carbon Battery with 5600mAh battery capacity, Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, Magic Ring, Magic Portal, HONOR NanoCrystal Shield, and IP68 Dust and Water Resistance Certification.  

Available in Epi Green and Black, HONOR Magic6 Pro can be purchased through selected HONOR Experience Stores, and via Shopee (https://bit.ly/Shop_M6Pro_PR), Lazada (https://bit.ly/Laz_M6Pro_PR), and TikTok Shop (https://bit.ly/TikTok_M6Pro_PR)

For more affordable offers, the HONOR Magic6 Pro is also available at Home Credit for as low as P1,719/month with FREE Harman Kardon Luna and HONOR Earbuds X3 worth P11,699. Take advantage of the offer at https://bit.ly/HONORPH_HomeCredit. 

HONOR Lazada Flash Sale on May 19-21! 

Shop for your favorite HONOR devices and enjoy up to P5,000 off on top of Exclusive Vouchers and Freebies only from May 19 to May 21 via Lazada! Get the HONOR 90 Lite 5G for only P8,990 with FREE Band 6; HONOR X9a 5G for P11,990 from its original price of P16,990 with FREE Band 6, HONOR X8b for P11,400 with FREE X5 Earbuds; and HONOR X7b for only P7,600! Check out your orders now at Lazada https://www.lazada.com.ph/shop/honor.  

For more exciting announcements, head on to HONOR Philippines’ social media platforms: Facebook (Facebook.com/HonorPhilippines), Instagram (Instagram.com/honorph/) and TikTok Shop: (Tiktok.com/@honorphilippines). To check out HONOR’s complete list of retail stores, go to https://www.hihonor.com/ph/retailers/.

Continue Reading

TECHNOLOGY

PLDT Enterprise bags 3 Stevie Awards: Celebrating diverse innovations in Events and Digital Communication

12:34 p.m. May 6, 2024

PLDT Enterprise, the corporate business arm of the leading Philippine telecommunications and digital services provider PLDT, proudly announced its latest victories at the 2024 Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards.

The Philippine Digital Convention (PH Digicon) 2023 VISION: Reimagine Tomorrow’s Enterprise secured a Silver Stevie® under the category of Innovation in the Use of Events and a Bronze Stevie® for Innovation in Business-to-Business Events, while the “Visionaries” campaign received a Bronze Stevie® in the category of Innovation in the Use of Social Media. These accolades once again highlighted PLDT Enterprise’s relentless pursuit of excellence and innovation in the digital communication space.

“We are deeply honored by the recognition bestowed upon us at the Stevie Awards, which underscores our unwavering dedication to business excellence and innovation,” stated Mitch Locsin, First Vice President and Head of Enterprise and International Core Business at PLDT and Smart. “These awards are a testament to our expertise and steadfast commitment to propelling businesses towards success in the digital age. As we continue to garner accolades, they serve to reaffirm our role as a catalyst for transformative digital solutions within the B2B marketplace, and they celebrate our deep-rooted mission to empower enterprises across the spectrum with the tools and services necessary to thrive in an increasingly connected world.”

PH Digicon Uniting and Empowering Visionaries

PH Digicon 2023 VISION: Reimagine Tomorrow’s Enterprise was the most recent leg of the pioneering annual digital conference that once again brought together industry leaders to discuss and explore the future of digital enterprise. The convention offered a platform for businesses to reimagine their operations in the emerging digital landscape.

As the 9th edition of the widely anticipated industry event, it drew a record-breaking number of participants eager to immerse themselves in the latest technologies, hear from digital thought leaders and trailblazers, network with business experts, and participate in on-ground activities such as Digi Grounds, Digi Hub, and SME Zone, to form a shared vision on how to foster the Philippines’ digital transformation.

The event also featured the Start-Up Innovation Challenge, the final pitching and demo day for start-ups to showcase their ideas to industry experts on how to solve everyday challenges using technologies involving Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), 5G, Smart Cities, Immersive Technologies, and Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG). 

The event stood as a hallmark in PLDT Enterprise’s event calendar, not just for its scale but for its role in shaping the dialogue around digital transformation in the region. This year’s theme, “Reimagine Tomorrow’s Enterprise,” resonated deeply with attendees, as the event featured industry experts and thought leaders including prominent C-suite executives who shared their insights into the emerging trends and future of digital business. It served as an incubator for innovative ideas, fostering a space where technology and strategy converged to inspire businesses to embark on transformational journeys.

The success of PH Digicon 2023 VISION: Reimagine Tomorrow’s Enterprise in elevating the conversation on digital innovation is further validated by its Silver Stevie® and Bronze Stevie® Awards, marking it as a pivotal event that not only forecasts the trajectory of digital enterprise but actively contributes to its evolution.

Leading the Industry by Example

The “Visionaries” campaign, on the other hand, was a transformative movement celebrating customer success stories across diverse personas and industries, from SME founders, large enterprise leaders, local government unit partners, to international carriers. It showcased the digital transformation journeys of PLDT Enterprise’s customers and reinforced the brand’s customer-centric approach.

The Bronze Stevie® Award for Innovation in the Use of Social Media through the “Visionaries” campaign is a compelling affirmation of PLDT Enterprise’s leadership by example in the realm of digital storytelling and innovation. This prestigious award is a testament to the company’s success as a digital transformation ally for businesses, showcasing their ability to not just follow but set trends in the dynamic narrative of enterprise technology.

The “Visionaries” campaign exemplifies PLDT Enterprise’s role as an architect of change, demonstrating their expertise in crafting impactful stories that resonate with the audience and galvanize the market. As champions of digital innovation, PLDT Enterprise’s approach goes beyond traditional methods, reflecting a pioneering spirit that is essential for leaders in the digital age.

Raising the Bar for Industry and Innovation

“As we celebrate these Stevie Awards, we’re reminded that at the heart of our innovative endeavors lies our commitment to our customers,” added Locsin. “PH Digicon and the ‘Visionaries’ campaign are embodiments of our promise to propel our business partners and customers to success, ensuring that every initiative is attuned to the needs and aspirations of our clients. This commitment is not just a tagline; it’s a guiding principle that steers our journey towards a customer-centric future. Our accolades in events and digital communication stand as milestones along this path, reaffirming our pledge to support every enterprise in achieving their digital transformation goals,” he concluded.

The Asia-Pacific Stevie® Awards are renowned for recognizing innovation in all its forms across the 29 nations of the Asia-Pacific region. The wins at the Stevie Awards, alongside its recent accolades at the ANVIL and Quill Awards, further cement PLDT Enterprise’s position as a thought leader and customer-centric business in the telecommunications and digital services industry.

Download all attachments as a zip file

Continue Reading

TECHNOLOGY

SEA 2023: Cybercriminals clog business networks with financial phishing

6:36 p.m. March 18, 2024

In 2023, Kaspersky anti-phishing technologies detected nearly 500,000 attempts to follow a phishing link on businesses’ devices in Southeast Asia (SEA). Interestingly, this number only refers to phishing links related to finance matters – e-commerce, banking, and payment systems.

Phishing persuades users to take action which gives a scammer access to your device, accounts, or personal information. By pretending to be a person or organization the users trust, they can more easily infect the victim with malware or steal their information.

These social engineering schemes “bait” with trust to get valuable information. This could be anything from a social media login, to your entire identity via your social security number. These schemes may urge the user to open an attachment, follow a link, fill out a form, or reply with personal information.

“Financial phishing” is a type of phishing which refers to fraudulent resources related to banking, payment systems and digital shops. Payment system phishing includes pages impersonating well-known payment brands.

From January to December last year, Kaspersky solutions detected and blocked a total of 455,708 financial phishing attempts targeting companies of various sizes in the region. The statistics reflect clicks on phishing links placed in various communication channels, including emails, fraudulent web sites, messengers, social media, etc. 

“Phishing is a trusted technique for cybercriminals when it comes to infiltrating business networks because they usually work. The rise of generative AI helps cybercriminals to make phishing messages or scam resources more convincing. As a result, it becomes challenging for people to distinguish between a scam and a legitimate communication. That’s why the role of robust security solutions increases,” comments Yeo Siang Tiong, General Manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky. 

The Philippines logged the highest number of financial phishing at 163,279 attempts in 2023, followed by Malaysia with 124,105. Indonesia chalked up 97,465 incidents while Vietnam experienced 36,130 phishing attacks related to financial matters. Thailand and Singapore registered the least number of this threat at 25,227 and 9,502 respectively.

“Cybercriminals employ various tactics, including financial-related phishing, to deceive employees and trick them into falling victim to an attack Our recent study showed employee security violations can be as damaging as external hacking for companies in Asia Pacific which means the human factor continues to play a role in making businesses vulnerable. Tools to help safeguard against human error are a vital step forward, but they can’t exclude employee education, skills development, and overall strengthening of the company’s ability to detect and respond to cyberattacks,” adds Yeo.

To help companies protect their systems against the damages of a successful phishing attack, Kaspersky experts recommend:

  • To advance decision-makers’ understanding of the importance of cybersecurity and how best to distribute budgets to stay ahead of threats, engage them with Kaspersky Interactive Protection Simulation for enhanced C-level professional education.
  • Consider experts’ help. For example, Kaspersky Assessments family of professional services identifies security gaps in your system’s configuration, and the Security Architecture Design helps create an IT security infrastructure that’s a perfect fit for a particular company. Every step of implementation is grounded in real security needs, giving decision-makers convincing arguments to allocate budgets.
  • Install and use enterprise security solutions with anti-phishing software: The Advanced Anomaly Control feature within Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business Advanced, Kaspersky Total Security for Business and Kaspersky Endpoint Detection and Response Optimum help prevent potentially dangerous activities that are ‘out of the norm’, both undertaken by the user and initiated by the attacker who has already seized control of the system.  
Continue Reading