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An Australian fintech is letting 'bankless' Filipinos pay without handling cash

Peppermint’s software white-labelled as SUNMar. (Source: supplied)

Australian fintech Peppermint Innovation has signed a partnership deal in the Philippines to provide mobile payment services to locals that don’t have bank accounts but do have a phone.

The ASX-listed company announced its new partnership with SUNMar Express Global Services, which will see the Filipino company white-label Peppermint’s technologies, on Thursday.

Peppermint chief executive Chris Kain told Business Insider many Australians wouldn’t realise there are “hundreds of millions” of people in neighbouring countries that don’t possess a bank account.

“Because the country is spread over thousands of islands, the Philippines has one of the lowest rates of account ownership in the region. More than two thirds of Filipinos are ‘bankless’ and rely on cash.”

Handling cash exposes people to theft and misplacement, with the World Bank estimating that cash-only people lose 25% of their money every year. But mobile phones are overcoming geographical and socioeconomic barriers to penetrate into the most remote populations.

“Financial inclusion is about giving these people access to more secure financial services, and in turn they also start to get access to things like loans which can help them build a better life,” Kain said.

The deal sees Peppermint’s mobile app, white-labelled as the SUNMar app, trialed first in Taytay, Rizal province – then later to more remote rural areas in Koronadal City, South Cotabato province and Paracelis, Mountain province. A Peppermint spokesperson said the three areas have a combined population of more than 500,000 people.

In Kenya, a brand called M-Pesa has been around for 10 years to allow bankless people to use mobile phones to make payments. That service, started by the country’s largest mobile telco, was used by 17 million Kenyans and had 25% of the gross national product processing through it in 2015, according to The Economist.

Peppermint’s latest deal is not its first foray into the Philippines. By 2015, the technology was already used by three of the country’s biggest banks: Metrobank, Unionbank and UCPB. In March, the Philippine Central Bank cleared the company’s MyWeps mobile remittance software for a pilot. And earlier this month, a trial started to allow bill payments for utility giant Metro Gas.

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