Ever heard of iMoney? This Malaysia-based startup gives the Malaysian public the latest financial info, like interest rates and loan charges via major banks through its financial comparison website. And quickly after setting up its presence in Singapore, these same services are now coming to Filipino bank customers through its Philippine portal.
This expansion is part of the fruit of the $667,00 funding it received from Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd and Asia Venture Group. It has also recently launched its portal in Indonesia.
iMoney CEO and co-founder, Ching Wei Lee said its mission is “to simplify financial matters for the consumers.” He adds:
Traditionally, consumers have often been at the losing end in a typical bank-consumer relationship. Whether to attain information or to apply for a financial product such as a bank loan; the consumers are the ones who have to maneuver past heavy traffic and wait for hours at a branch.
Though still in beta, iMoney Philippines users can now benefit from comparison services for credit cards, personal loans, mortgage loans, savings accounts, time deposits, and travel insurances offered by major banks and insurance entities of the Philippines. To date, it has already listed services from more than 15 banks and insurance companies in the Philippines. Some of these banks include Banco de Oro, Metrobank, Bank of the Philippine Island and Blue Cross. iMoney Philippines also targets to increase this bank listing as they progress.
Apart from bank products and services, it also provides a Resource Library that gives financial information and tips related to finances, available in both Filipino and English languages. All these features do not involve account creation or ID log-in, and is free of charge for consumers.
iMoney underscores that while they provide financial information from banks, it does not affiliate itself with other banks, and strives to provide an independent comparison of major financial product groups in the Philippines. Ching says these selected bank products and services can be applied directly via iMoney at no cost to the applicants. It currently gets revenues from onsite advertising and referral fees to fund its free services to the public.
Changing the Philippine Financial Landscape
What potential did iMoney see in the Philippines? iMoney states that the Philippines’ financial sector and the economy in general has grown in recent years. Mortgage, car loan, and other consumer loan books have grown from an estimated $12.5 billion to $18.5 billion between 2009 and 2012. Life insurance premiums totalled to $2.1 billion in 2011, up from just $1.4 billion in 2008.
The BPO sector’s growth also brings a 9 percent increase in the middle class bracket. By 2015, it is estimated to even reach a total of 25 percent of the country’s population. iMoney Philippines’ Sil Silvestre said it is just about time that the Philippines puts focus on personal finance, especially that “the economy is doing good lately.” He furthers:
iMoney officially launched in the Philippines this June with a vision of changing how consumers think, to be the go-to website whenever they want an independent opinion on which bank product to favor… We are focusing mainly on promoting awareness on a Pinoy’s Personal Finance habits by giving them insights and creating this community of finance savvy individuals.
iMoney Philippines’ presence among its early users is already “growing by more than 50 percent week on week on page visits and averaging 70 percent week-on-week on unique visitors,” Sil said. He adds:
We project in August we will reach our target number of 100,000 unique visitors per month.
If this goal is met, it will be close to iMoney’s pioneering website which now serves an average of 120,000 visitors monthly. Sil cites that in the Philippines there are 487,500 searches a month related to credit cards, which is 1.43 percent penetration of the internet population. He believes that the volume on these types of searches will still develop overtime.