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JG Summit ventures into fintech

Philippine conglomerate and Hong Kong-based partner to tap underserved markets

MANILA -- Philippine conglomerate JG Summit Holdings and Hong Kong-based Oriente are teaming up on a financial technology venture in the Southeast Asian nation, where consumer credit remains scarce.

In a stock exchange filing on Wednesday, JG Summit said the exclusive partnership aims to address the country's financial exclusion problem, both for "underbanked" consumers and small businesses.

The duo is developing a digital financial services marketplace for loans, such as school tuition, unexpected medical expenses and small-business finance. They plan to launch the service early next year.

Oriente was founded in April 2016 by the co-founders of instant messaging app Skype and fintech startup to offer credit to middle-income customers. The company is creating digital financial services marketplaces in emerging Asia by combining its proprietary technology and data science with the financial resources of strategic partners.

For its part, JG Summit, a leader in the Philippine consumer market, owns food and beverage maker Universal Robina, discount airline Cebu Air and Robinsons Bank, a small lender. It also has a large minority stake in PLDT, the Philippines' largest telecom company, which already owns fintech startups.

The partnership sees opportunities in the Philippines, where many people struggle to obtain financial services. Citing data from the World Bank, JG Summit said around 90% Filipino adults have no credit history, and many resort to informal means to borrow money. Of the 43% of the population who save money, only 14% have bank accounts, while 68% keep their savings "under the mattress."

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