• Freenet helps PH goal of ‘financial inclusion’


    FREENET, the free mobile data platform of Voyager Innovations, has signed up more online banking and financial apps to its sponsored-data platform, helping the government reach its financial inclusion plan for the country.

    Benjie Fernandez, chief operating officer at Voyager Innovations, said freenet users are now able to access various financial services and complete their transactions online with large commercial banks free of charge.

    These include the mobile apps of Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) and those of fintech startups like Lendr, PawnHero and PayMaya.

    “People who have experienced online financial transactions from making a payment, transferring funds, or applying for a loan or bridge financing know just how enabling digital is, in big and small ways,” Fernandez said.

    “Digital and financial inclusion is at the core of our mission at Voyager, and we are glad to extend these services to as many Filipinos as possible through freenet,” he added.

    By partnering with enterprises for sponsored data and giving customers free access to these financial and banking services, Voyager is enabling Filipinos to participate in the new digital economy.

    At present, only 30 percent of the Philippine population has regular access to the internet while seven in 10 adult individuals belong to the “unbanked” sector of society.

    In the 2016 Brookings Financial and Digital Inclusion report published this July, the Philippines emerged as the most improved nation in the world in terms of providing wider access to digital and financial services.

    This improvement was fueled mostly by the emergence of new digital services and increased mobile capacity bolstered by platforms such as freenet.

    Rise of new ‘fintechs’
    New fintech players such as Lendr, PawnHero, and PayMaya are also enabling wider access to digital financial services by providing their customers with free data access to their websites and apps via freenet.

    Lendr allows users to scout loan products online, choose one that suits them, and apply for the loan right there and then.

    PawnHero enables users to pawn valuable items–ranging from jewelry to electronics, gadgets, and luxury items–through the PawnHero App without having to leave their homes.

    PayMaya is a downloadable mobile app that allows consumers to shop online even without a credit card. The PayMaya app generates an instant, ready-to-use virtual prepaid card that can be reloaded in over 15,000 centers nationwide.

    Heidi Garayblas, business unit head for freenet at Voyager Innovations, explains, “Through freenet, Smart, TNT, and Sun subscribers can access these digital banking and financial services without data charges, even if they don’t have prepaid load or an active data package.”

    Initially introduced as SafeZone in 2015, freenet has enable its users to access 70 brands and enterprises including online shops, airlines, food establishments, and news and entertainment portals without the burden of data charges.

    It also hosts social networking and social media apps such as Facebook Lite, Twitter, and Instagram, providing Filipinos access to trending topics such as livestreaming TV5’s special coverage of the 2016 Philippine elections, the Duterte Inaugural, Team Gilas Pilipinas’ shot at the FIBA World finals, and the sensational Pokemon Go reality game.


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