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In 2010, Founder Miguel Perez, driven by the struggles faced by overseas Filipino workers yearning to support their families back home, sought to revolutionize the traditional remittance landscape in the Philippines through technology. His company, Ayannah, developed a groundbreaking solution to reduce the high costs and inefficiencies of the traditional remittance process. This solution provides more affordable and accessible financial services to Filipinos, especially migrant workers and unbanked Filipinos.
As Ayannah's founder emphasizes, "We focus on digital financial services because we believe that many people lack access due to their unbanked status... if we can create digital services that improve people's lives, that's our vision."
The founder believes that Ayannah's array of financial products and services, such as providing accessible digital commerce and payment services, accelerate financial inclusion and literacy and empower individuals by giving them greater control over how remittances are utilized to improve the quality of life for their beneficiaries (SDG 1 - No Poverty and SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities). Moreover, their transition to digital channels has positive sustainability implications by reducing waste associated with traditional banking processes (SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure and SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production).
After leaving their previous company, Founder Miguel Perez and his business partner embarked on a journey to identify challenges faced by Filipinos that could be alleviated through digital solutions. Perez shared, "At that time, I and my partner Richard Alikpala had just left this company involved in mobile instant messaging. Back then, there were very few smartphone users. Then we looked at what Filipinos face that could be solved by digital means, by technology. And one of the things that stood out to us in 2010 was remittances. This is because, at the time, the volume of remittances coming from OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) was already around 24 billion."
He also added that sending money home to their loved ones in the Philippines proved painful and expensive back then. This was due to remittance fees soaring as high as 12% of the principal amount, burdening OFWs' hard-earned income. Moreover, the Philippines was primarily unbanked, and everything was paid in cash. Additionally, recipients or beneficiaries often had to travel long hours from rural areas to redeem the money sent to them.
With a motivation to make a difference in the lives of Filipinos and improve the current situation, Perez added, "So, we formed a team of software engineers to figure out how to use the internet and technology to solve this problem. That's why we came up with an e-commerce app to make that happen. That was the first step. The innovative platform Sendah.com was launched in 2010. Moved beyond traditional remittances by allowing Filipinos to send money, goods, and services that created a cross-border e-commerce experience."
Realizing that not all Filipinos had access to the internet or smartphones, Ayannah continued to evolve. They introduced one of their successful software programs, Sendah Direct. This program empowers anyone to act as a payment agent, empowering micro-business (i.e., sari-sari store) owners.
Following Sendah Direct's success, Ayannah developed a bank-grade software, Sendah Remit, in 2014. This focuses more on licensed remittance companies and banks that still lack a digital platform for remittance products. Since there were many unbanked Filipinos then, we had to develop software by interconnecting various remittance agents into one network. Ayannah streamlined transactions, making it more efficient for recipients to receive money from different agents, regardless of their affiliations. In addition, it offered safe, fast, convenient, seamless, and secure transactions.
Ayannah's dedication to providing accessible and inclusive financial solutions exemplifies their commitment to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. By reducing remittance costs and improving financial accessibility, Ayannah actively contributes to SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities) by empowering overseas Filipinos and their families. Furthermore, their innovative digital financial services align with SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) as they pave the way for a more connected and efficient remittance landscape. Through their empathetic and transformative approach, Ayannah continues to drive positive change and create opportunities for a more inclusive world.
Panalo Express powered by Sendah Direct puts mobile loading and money-sending facilities conveniently, next to your nearest Sari-Sari stores.
Perez shares, "I graduated with a degree in business management, but I've always been drawn to social development work. So, I decided to take another degree in development studies. For the first few years of my career, I did community development work. I worked with farmers in the countryside. But years later, I decided to take my master's degree at Harvard and the internet was booming. I knew the internet was going to change everything about how business is conducted." According to him, this is when he began to shift gears and learn about technology.
Even though he has come a long way, he is driven by his desire to help the communities back home. He shared, "I've always wanted to use what I learned in finance and technology. This is because I worked briefly for an investment bank in Silicon Valley after graduation and my MBA. What I wanted to do was combine what I know about finance and how I can improve people's lives. So, we focused on digital financial services because we felt like many people lack access because they're unbanked."
Miguel's inspiration extends beyond Ayannah's social impact and lies in building a successful fintech company. This is a positive example in the global tech landscape and serves as a beacon of success in the Filipino tech industry. Furthermore, Miguel finds satisfaction in witnessing the growing consciousness within the business world towards ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) principles and triple-bottom-line impact, recognizing that business can be a force for positive social change.
By revolutionizing cross-border e-commerce and traditional remittance processes, Ayannah has profoundly impacted financial inclusion and accessibility in the Philippines, particularly for overseas Filipino workers and unbanked individuals. The evidence of their impact is evident in industry data, showcasing a significant reduction in remittance fees from 12% to around 2% over the years. This made sending and receiving money affordable and convenient for Filipinos and has improved the overall well-being of families and communities that rely on remittances. Over time, Ayannah's product offerings have expanded, streamlining remittance services and empowering licensed remittance companies and banks to provide digital platforms. As the pandemic accelerated the transition to digital financial services, mobile wallets became the primary means of sending and receiving money. This drove Ayannah's impact in the industry while enabling over 40 million users to transfer money to millions of non-app users.
Beyond remittances, Ayannah's influence now extends to address broader financial needs, including borrowing and savings. Their proven business model combines open banking with omnichannel distribution, empowering financial institutions to reach a growing yet underserved market. Ayannah has enabled micro and small-medium enterprises to access working capital loans, stimulating economic activity and creating employment opportunities in local communities.
Through Ayannah's relentless commitment to innovation, Ayannah has transformed existing ways of determining someone's suitability for potential loans and savings. By harnessing data science and analytics, Ayannah enabled financial institutions to predict customer behavior, driving higher revenues and engagement. It also expanded its focus on serving salaried workers and the unbanked and underserved markets.
Because of Ayannah's innovative digital finance services, the business has experienced significant benefits and positive impacts. Founded in 2010 with a few employees, the fintech company has grown to 63 employees today. Smooth remittance services and accessible digital platforms have attracted a large customer base and increased transactions and revenue generation.
Not only that, Ayannah's success has led to the company being recognized in the industry. Ayannah was recognized as "Best Fintech Startup" at the Rice Bowl Startup Awards. It was also awarded "Remittance Initiative of the Year" by a leading banking industry publication in APAC. Further, Ayannah was also included on the list of "Top 100 Fintech Companies," spurring financial inclusion by the International Finance Corporation. This further solidified its position as a leader in the industry.
The success of their existing digital products and services laid a strong foundation. Therefore, their relevance and reach have expanded in the evolving financial landscape. Ayannah has expanded its business scope as its innovative approach opens new markets and investment opportunities. Perez shared, "We have raised over $10M in equity and debt capital. We have served over 10 million customers through our various apps. We have processed close to P1B in microloans in Indonesia and the Philippines. Currently, we are focusing on the Philippines and Indonesia."
Ayannah has played a pivotal role in enhancing the country's financial/economic inclusion and empowering marginalized communities. By making financial services accessible and affordable to the underserved or the unbanked. This is evident in the significant decrease in remittance fees. These ranged from 12% of the principal amount in 2010 to the current 2% rate. By doing so, beneficiaries no longer had to travel long distances from rural areas to redeem their cash.
From initially offering digital cross-border e-commerce and remittance services, Ayannah expanded its offerings by providing loans, capital, savings, and insurance. This is also to help Filipinos increase their financial stability by growing their businesses. Ayannah also provides working capital to micro-business owners. This contributes to the Filipino communities' overall economic development and social well-being. Perez shared, "In the Philippines, over 5,000 individuals have signed up to be our partners and many more are joining as we expand our product offering."
He added, "In Indonesia and the Philippines, close to 10,000 individuals and their families have benefitted from microloans that we have processed through our app in partnership with cooperatives." Ayannah has opened more opportunities, leading to job creation and economic empowerment in the communities it serves.
Not only that, Ayannah's digital approach has positive sustainability implications as it reduces paper usage and environmental waste by shifting traditional paper-based processes to digital channels. Digital transactions and mobile wallets eliminate physical checks and excessive paperwork. This conserves valuable resources and reduces traditional banking's carbon footprint. Ayannah's eco-friendly approach aligns with sustainable practices and supports efforts to combat climate change and environmental degradation.
As a whole, Ayannah's innovative business model, products, and services make a positive impact on society and the environment. The company's commitment to financial inclusion, social development, and environmental responsibility creates a ripple effect of positive change that extends far beyond traditional financial services.
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Miguel Perez, CEO
Ayannah Group of Companies is a pioneering fintech company providing digital financial services to enterprises and individuals. Ayannah's innovative software applications and systems enable various financial products, including payments, lending, insurance, and investment solutions. These products can be accessed and utilized through digital means, such as web and mobile applications. Over the years, Ayannah has been at the forefront of empowering the Philippines' unbanked and disadvantaged marginalized communities. Ayannah contributes to their economic growth and overall well-being.