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US-based microfinance firm taps PHL as regional hub for Southeast Asia

California, USA-based microfinance firm TALA has chosen the Philippines as regional hub for its Southeast Asian operations.

“We think we can build a world-class team here in Manila that can service all of Southeast Asia,” TALA CEO Shivani Siroya said in an interview with GMA News Online.

“If we can make it work here, we will be able to make it work throughout Southeast Asia,” she said.

Based in Santa Monica, California, TALA has only two offices overseas—one in Nairobi, Kenya, and another in Manila, Philippines.

The company, through its smartphone app, allows customers to apply for loans ranging from P1,000 to P10,000.

“We’ve really focused this year on recruiting. We’ve had like amazing talent coming from Manila,” Siroya said.

Siroya noted the company also tapped Filipinos overseas to spearhead the Philippine operations.

“They’re the ones that are really running the country [operations] for us,” she said.

The company’s product was made available in the country in May 2017. As of March 2018, it registered 100,000 customers.

The company noted its app-based lending operations in the Philippines has reached $9.5 million, with a 95-percent repeat lending rate.

“If we look at the population, there’s a huge underserved population here, there’s a really high demand for credit. We see that as a huge opportunity,” Siroya said.

“We saw the potential of the market and the demand for credit,” she said.

Borrowers can encash their app-based loans at 7-Eleven, Cebuana Lhuillier, and Bayad Center.

“It allows the customer anywhere to download the application. They can apply for a loan in the application and then can accept an instant decision ... It’s all digital,” Siroya noted.

The interest rates range from 11 percent for loan payments on a weekly basis to 15 percent for a single payment within 30 days.

“They can actually pick weekly repayment schedules, every two weeks, or once a month. We try to make it when they would get their income,” Siroya said. —VDS, GMA News