Press Release

ING, UNICEF pilot global initiative in PHL to explore fintech innovation for social impact

16 December 2019

  • UNICEF, ING to invest in financial startups that help disadvantaged youth and families in the country

A girl doing homework in the dark, with only a candle providing light

On 18 October 2016, 4 year old John David Allam does his schoolwork despite a power outage in Tuguegarao City, Province of Cagayan, a day before Typhoon Haima made landfall in the northern part of the Philippines on 19 October 2016. Packing winds as much as 269km/h, Typhoon Haima, locally known as Typhoon Lawin was categorized as a super typhoon. UNICEF Philippines/2016/George Calvelo

  • ING and UNICEF expand partnership to encourage tech startups to build financial technology (fintech) in new, ground-breaking ways that are scalable, globally applicable, and benefit the most vulnerable in society.
  • A pilot investment round, ‘Fintech for Impact,’ also includes a mentorship period to support startups in improving their technology, business skills, and ability to reach disadvantaged youth and families with appropriate financial tools and services.
  • According to the World Bank, financial technology or fintech refers to technology-enabled innovations in financial services.
  • Call for entries and more details are available on the programme’s website:

MANILA, Philippines — ING, in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Office of Innovation, announced that it will pilot a global programme in the Philippines to jointly identify and invest in fintech startups that are building solutions with the potential to help disadvantaged youth and families in the country. New digital financial tools – if designed responsibly and with attention to the specific needs of these users – offer the potential to help build economic security, encourage more equitable access to services, and lift the financial barriers to opportunities for improving their lives.

The Philippines has enjoyed rapid economic growth in recent years; however, the benefits of this growth have not been shared equally; significant disparities remain. An estimated 10.5 million children live below the poverty line, and an estimated 2.85 million girls and boys aged 5-15 years are out of school. Despite a large and tech-savvy population, many still face stark inequalities, affecting their education, health outcomes, and future opportunities.

With this pilot, ING and UNICEF are building on a 14-year partnership; through their Power for Youth programme launched in 2015, they have touched the lives of over 1.5 million children and young people by providing skills and tools needed to become socially and financially independent. Inspired by and committing to this purpose, this pilot is an innovative way to deepen the partnership and continue empowering youth and families with tools needed to build a brighter future.

The ‘Fintech for Impact’ pilot aims to look for startup companies building innovative tools that will serve the financially excluded and hardest-to-reach communities in the country through open-source technology solutions, contributing to the growth of technology built for positive social impact. UNICEF’s Office of Innovation is particularly interested in companies that use fintech in new, ground-breaking ways that are scalable and globally applicable. The partners will jointly search and identify up to six (6) startups, award funding of up to $100,000 each, and engage them with invaluable technical and business mentorship along with other experts over a 12-month incubation period.

“Recent innovations in digital banking and financial technology have revolutionized the ways we do banking and made financial inclusion closer to reality. Fintech companies are our allies in building a more inclusive economy that will benefit everyone,” said ING Philippines Country Manager Hans B. Sicat. “Now, we are giving fintech startups an avenue to grow and become industry leaders of their own.”

“UNICEF is pleased to partner with ING to launch a fintech pilot programme in the Philippines. With the growth in digital technologies, I hope fintech startups building new tools will focus on products and services that could help more families and young people, and bridge the service and financial gaps leading to poverty reduction,” said Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, UNICEF Philippines Representative.

According to the 2017 Financial Inclusion Survey of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), more than 52 million Filipino adults or 77.4 percent of the total adult population remain unbanked.

Sicat said that utilizing fintech solutions is an opportune time to ensure that the Philippine economy will be inclusive and felt even by some of the most marginalized sectors in the country. “ING and UNICEF are bullish about the potential that these fintech startups have to offer. The fast-changing technology landscape is an opportunity for youth and families to spur inclusive economic growth through financial inclusion and solutions,” Sicat added.

The Fintech for Impact pilot application period runs from 13 January to 23 February 2020 (23:59 PHT). Visit for more information on the application process and eligibility, register for alerts, and reach out to the UNICEF Innovation team with your inquiries.

Comms Focal Point UNICEF

Office of Innovation - Media Unit

UN entities involved in this initiative

United Nations Children’s Fund

Goals we are supporting through this initiative