Investing in retail bonds? Fintech firms tapped to reach 'farmers, sari-sari store owners'

Jessica Fenol and Michelle Ong, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 17 2020 05:00 PM

The Bonds.ph mobile app interface. Screenshot

MANILA - The Bureau of Treasury has collaborated with financial technology players to make investing in retail treasury bonds more viable for farmer and sari-sari store owners, its partners said Friday.

Unionbank and the Philippine Digital Asset Exchange (PDAX) worked with the Bureau of Treasury to launch the Bonds.ph app, which aims to make retail treasury bond investing accessible even to the unbanked, Union Bank first vice president and head of Blockchain and Fintech Business Department Catherine Casas told ANC.

The app is a blockchain-enabled mobile app "which can open the gates for everybody," Casas said. The mobile app records transactions in a blockchain-based registry in addition to the existing system of the Bureau of Treasury, she said.

"We can make RTB distribution for the unbanked even more feasible and economically viable," she added.

Using the app, the "low-risk" investing in government bonds can now reach sari-sari stores, farmers and the like because anyone with the app can participate including the unbanked, Casas said. 

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Smartphone users just need to download the Bonds.ph app, register their mobile number, address and verify through a KYC (know-your-customer) process, said PDAX founder and CEO Nichel Ong Gaba.

Mobile wallet operators such as GCash and PayMaya were also tapped so that users can fund their accounts using e-wallets, he said. Those with bank accounts can use InstaPay and PesoNet to fund their apps.

"You don't need a bank account to participate in this bond offering, You can load your bond.ph app using GCash, PayMaya, and later on other offline channels," Gaba said.

Once funded, retail investors can now use the Bonds.ph app to purchase government-issued retail treasury bonds, Gaba said. Cash flow is guaranteed in government bonds which yields higher proceeds compared to time deposits, he said.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno expressed support for the initiative by investing, he said in a Twitter post.

Filipinos can invest for as low as P5,000 or an aggregate of P500,000, the Bureau of Treasury earlier said.

“We have always envisioned to provide Filipinos with affordable and secure investment instruments where they can invest and at the same time aid the government in raising funds especially at this time. So we opened up our next Retail Treasury Bond offering to an online platform like Bonds.Ph that allows investors to use e-wallets like PayMaya to invest in RTBs,” said National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon.

“Opening up various online channels that allows Filipinos to invest will ensure a wider participation from individual investors, particularly for this offering,” she added.