By Beting Laygo Dolor
LOS ANGELES — The first ever FilAm neobank was launched earlier this month, a tie up of the digital financial platform BayaniPay and East West Bank.
For East West Bank, the tie up marks its first foray in offering banking services in a digital banking platform.
BayaniPay, meanwhile, hopes to ease the barriers faced by new immigrants in opening bank accounts in their new country, while also making seamless cross border payments, particularly to their home country.
By offering regular banking products via its neobank, BayaniPay addresses a pressing need of some 4.2 million Filipinos in the United States.
As an immigrant himself, BayaniPay CEO Winston Damarillo noted that FilAms “are one of the largest Asian American groups in the US, with $145 billion purchasing power.”
He added that despite their significant market size and buying power, no bank has catered to their financial needs and responsibilities both in the US and the Philippines.
This is where BayaniPay comes in.
BayaniPay entered the market in November, last year, providing zero-fee remittances from California to the Philippines. Its foreign exchange rates are considered as among the top in the market.
Aside from East West Bank, BayaniPay also partnered with BDO Unibank, the Philippines’ largest bank, as well as Seafood City, the largest Filipino-owned supermarket chain in the US.
According to Parker Shi, EVP and COO of East West Bank, “As a premier financial bridge between the US and Asia, we have developed robust digital banking capabilities to meet our customers’ cross border needs.”
He said the partnership with BayaniPay enables them to embed their products and services to serve a new group of customers.
East West is the largest independent bank based in Southern California.
As a fintech company, BayaniPay is not a bank, but rather offers banking products and services via East West Bank.
Among the services available at its launch this spring are the East West-powered Easy Digital Checking Account, which is insured with the FDIC, and has no minimum deposit or balance requirements.
Initially available to California residents, its services will soon be offered in other states.
The zero fees charged by BayaniPay as well as its superior exchange rates are due to the absence of brick-and-mortar offices, thereby saving on operating costs and providing more affordable services to customers.
Meanwhile, SoCal-based East West Bank operates in more than 120 locations in the US and China. It is not to be confused with a similarly-named bank operating in the Philippines.