Last week, May 2-5, myself, Hugo Cuevas-Mohr and Olivia Chow, from Yokip Consulting, our partner in the RemTech Awards and The Blockchain Series Coordinator,  were in Manila in a round of visits with local authorities, money transfer companies, banks and associations. The main objective was to prepare the program for our coming IMTC ASIA 2018 in Manila in September 19-21. We not only wanted to make everybody aware of the event, but make sure we understood the issues that all the stakeholders in the country found important to discuss at the coming event, to make it relevant for all, local & international participants.

US Department of Commerce at the US Embassy in Manila

The success of the visit to Manila was achieved with the help of the Trade Office of the US Department of Commerce at the US Embassy in Manila.

We are very thankful to Ms. Yuri Arthur, Commercial Attache, Thess Sula, Commercial Specialist and Ylen Rumeral, Commercial Assistant, who not only did a great job setting the appointments, a work we started months ago, but coming along and assisting us every step of the way.


We wish to thank everyone that we met, that we list here. They shared information openly, gave us excellent feedback and most of all, gave us great encouragement and committed themselves to help us with the event. We promised to get back to them when the draft of the program is in place to get everyone’s feedback. Some companies were very interested in sponsoring the event, and Paulina will be establishing contact with them so they can join the companies already supporting us.


The Governor of BANGKO SENTRAL NG PILIPINAS (BSP), Mr. Nestor Espenilla Jr, excused himself and we were received by Assistant Governor Resitituto Cruz, Raymond Estioko, Head of Payment System Oversight Department and Mr. Dindo Santos, Officer in Charge of Supervision & Examination. We were made aware of the regulatory changes and the ideas they shared will be surely included.

At BSP we also met with Mel Plabasan, Deputy Director of the CORE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SPECIALIST GROUP and discussed the technological audits performed by BSP and how BSP is keeping abreast with blockchain advances.


At THE BANKERS ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES (BAP) we met with BAP Managing Director, Mr. Ben Castillo and Mr. Arnel Almaden, Associate Director of Advocacy & Policy Development. They provided us with meaningful insight and recommendations.
At the BAP meeting we were also joined by Mr. George Inocencio, President the ASSOCIATION OF BANK REMITTANCE OFFICERS, INC. (ABROI) who is also Head, OFW & Remittance Marketing Department of the Development Bank of the Philippines) who shared his survey on the Derisking problem that it is also hitting the Filipino Market.


We met at UNION BANK with the PHILIPPINE PAYMENTS MANAGEMENT INC. (PPMI), Ms. Carmelita Araneta and Mr. Justo Ortiz, Chairman of Union Bank of the Philippines where we learned about the work on fast payments and the most interesting project of a blockchain clearing system for Rural Banks. Mr. James Ileto, VP of the Bank’s Center for Strategic Partnerships, was kind to bid us farewell with gifts. Thanks James.


At the OVERSEAS WORKERS WELFARE ADMINISTRATION (OWWA), Mr. Hans Leo Cacdac, Administrator excused himself and we were received by Mr. Josefino Torres, Deputy Administrator, who was very kind in explaining to us in detail how the OWWA functions and the great work done for the OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers). We can stop praising the country enough for his OFWs care & protection.


At the PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT ADMINISTRATION (POEA) we met with Mr. Bernard P. Olalia, the recently appointed Officer-in-Charge, an attorney that left his private practice to serve OFWs, managing one of the most unique institutions in the world. We will make sure POEA is present at IMTC ASIA 2018 in September so the money transfer industry learns and understand the way The Philippines is managing migration, a model for many countries in the world.


At the RURAL BANKERS ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES we were met by newly appointed President Milcah Capundag who gave us a very good explanation of the role Rural Bankers play in banking local communities and how, Rural Banks, independently, have direct relationship with Remittance Service Providers. She also mentioned the interesting ongoing project using blockchain with the guidance of Union Bank.


At Mynt we were received by the young and passionate team at G-Cash, who is currently leading the mobile money transformation of the country. We are thankful to Ben Remos in Product Partnerships, Edgardo (Jong) Layug, VP for Product Marketing & Management and Joseph Lym, VP for showing us the great work GCASH is doing, the app they developed and the money transfer services they have partnered with, initially Western Union & MoneyGram.


We had hoped to meet Mr. Philippe Lhuillier, President of Cebuana Lhuillier and President of the ASSOCIATION OF PHILIPPINE PRIVATE REMITTANCE SERVICE COMPANIES (APPRISE) an association that is making a comeback after being dormant for many years. We met with Janinna Mae Reyes, from Cebuana’s International Remittance Department, who is probably one of the most vivacious & passionate remittance professionals we met. She described her work in partnering with so many MTOs around the world.


At the FINTECH ALLIANCE PHILIPPINES, we met with Lito Villanueva, its President, who is also at the helm of Lendr and PayMaya, part of PLDT – Smart, one of the most interesting mobile money projects we have heard for sometime. The way this digital effort is gaining ground is amazing. Deep understanding of the “sachet economy” of The Philippines will surely bring more success as the consumer adoption increases. How Mr. Villanueva sees the solutions they have been working on for OFWs is what we were most interested. We hope Lito will share his views at IMTC ASIA in September.


We had the pleasure of meeting Lorenzo (Junji) Escaño, VP and COO of Operations of M Lhuillier, another of the household names in remittances to the Philippines. I had met Michael Lhuillier at IMTC WORLD in Miami, as M Lhuillier has offices in many US locations and it was very interesting meeting Junji and learning the complex structure of delivering remittances to so many islands in this archipelago owned branches.


We couldn’t make it to LBC Express Office in Manila to meet Mr. Oliver L. Valentin and we want to thank Andrew Dale Camandang, who came to the Hotel to meet me. One of the most striking aspects of migration & remittances to Philippines is the famous balikbayan boxes, the care packages OFWs sent to their relatives back home to tell them they are present and balikbayan box that love packaged each item with care. And LBC’s specialty is packages and its offices all across the country also pay remittances to OFWs. If you want to know more about balikbayan boxes, read this article by Jason Reblando: http://bit.ly/2wjJJ2k


Last but not least, before heading out I was able to meet Mr. Felipe Roque from Uniteller, who has been running Uniteller’s office in the country for close to 20 years. It was quite a thrill to learn about the growth of the company from someone who has been at the helm representing this fine US firm. Uniteller is IMTC ASIA’s Platinum sponsor and we thank their support.


We learnt a number of very interesting facts, in the trends of remittances in the country, one of them is the creation of the Overseas Filipino Bank, President Duterte has appointed Mr. Alex Buenaventura, President of the Land Bank of The Philippines and its Head of Global Remittances, Mr. Renato Eje to see this project see light, over the ashes of the closed Post Bank. Although we couldn’t meet them, the project will definitively be a topic in September at the IMTC ASIA 2018 in Manila.


We have to deeply thank our friends from BLOOM SOLUTIONS, our partners of THE BLOCKCHAIN SERIES that we will have in Manila on September 19, 2018 and will be the best way to demystify blockchain to the many interested parties in The Philippines, showcasing the most interesting projects in the region. We thank our friend Luis Buenaventura, who has been the face of Fintech in many IMTC in the past, Bloom’s Marketing & PR man. We met Israel Keys, CEO and Co-Founder as well as Ramon Tayag, Co-Founder & CIO and they gave us great insights on their road to getting their license and many other ideas on how to approach the event with the developing Fintech Industry in the region.