Filipino financial technology start-up PearlPay is fast changing the landscape of local rural banking and micro-finance institutions with a portfolio of savvy solutions fitted to adapt to challenges of digital transformation.
Supported by Amazon Web Services, PearlPay offers end-to-end digital and banking solutions targeting marginalized and underserved segments in the Philippines.
“We are committed to making financial access universally accessible by focusing in the rural banks, micro-finance instituiona and similar organizations by empowering them with a world class banking infrastructure. We’re helping them with their digital transformation in keeping with the massive changes in global trend hastened by COVID-19,” said PearlPay chief executive and co-founder Spark Perreras.
He said the impact of COVID19 allowed the company to propel growth and disperse this growth to helping financial institutions to also reach out to the underserved and unbanked.
Perreras noted that not all banks, especially rural banks, have e-payment systems and not all Filipinos have smart phones or proper internet connection.
“This is true for microfinance institutions and cooperatives as well. Additionally, most available technologies and payment solutions either need an updated phone or good Wi-Fi connection,” he said.
PearlPay is tapping and transforming key institutions such as rural banks, microfinance institutions, cooperatives and similar organizations to address financial inclusion in the Philippines. It seeks to democratize access to electronic money in the Philippines by providing rural banks, microfinance institutions, and cooperatives cloud-based and mobile technologies despite the lack of technological infrastructure, effectively leading to better financial inclusion.
After a year since its inception in March 2020, PearlPay expanded its reach to Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore with Philippines as its headquarters. From less than 50 staff when it started, PearlPay now has 68 dedicated team of software engineers, tech people, customer onboarding team and the founding members.
Having met initial success as a fintech start-up, PearlPay noted that their foremost challenge right now is keeping up with the demand.
While fintech start-up is set to pilot their services by the third or fourth quarter of 2021 initially with 7 rural banks signing-up, it has also set up the stage to accommodate MFIs.
Perreras said that PearlPay does not aim to compete with banks. Instead, it seeks to enable the rural banks and recently teamed up with the Rural Bank Association of the Philippines to roll out a pilot program for almost half of all rural banks in the country
He said the novelty that PearlPay brings to the financing system will benefit 450 rural banks and 3,800 MFIs.
“As a startup, we weren’t really focused on one vertical market. We have initially zeroed in on rural banks, but when COVID-19 strikes, everyone, rural banks including MFIs were impacted. Their lack of capital made them rethink their chances of riding the wave of digital transformation. So from the bank, we are actually working of another vertical scale-up, which are the MFIs,” he said.
For microfinance institutions and cooperatives, PearlPay developed its loan management system, which is derived from its core banking system. It has been recognized by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas as a CBS provider and has received a go-signal to go live with its pilot program beginning June 1.
With its cloud architect certified by AWS, PearlPay has been using AWS Cloud since day 1, primarily due to its affordability, quick deployment, scalability, and high-level of security. From its core application to its backend system, the company’s entire suite of products is hosted on AWS cloud.
PearlPay runs three types of workloads on AWS Cloud, all of which use, in varying degrees, S3, Cognito, SQS, SNS, and other managed services.
AWS, as a technology provider, simplifies the entry to advanced cloud technologies through a point-and-click interface in the console. AWS also offers many options to reduce costs and by availing a combination of cloud services.
Combined with AWS’s cost optimization tools like Cost Explorer, which shows usage and suggests savings plans, PearlPay was able to reduce its costs by 50 percent from on-demand rates by availing a combination of Compute Savings Plans and RDS Reserved Instances.
PearlPay is also part of AWS Activate, a program that provides startups with a host of benefits, including AWS credits, to help them grow their business and get started on AWS cloud. With credits from AWS Activate, PearlPay was able to do more with its limited funding, such as hire several key technical people with the funding saved from initial IT costs.
“Access to world-class infrastructure and building a high-availability and fault-tolerant system is not exclusive to big companies anymore. AWS democratizes access to computing resources. It’s a great equalizer in today’s economy, ensuring that even a startup company like PearlPay or small rural banks and microfinance institutions in Indonesia and the Philippines can participate and thrive in the digital economy,” Perreras said.