Philippines-based PLDT’s digital unit Voyager Innovations raised $167 million from existing investors KKR and Tencent, and added a World Bank unit as a new investor to drive its expansion into financial services and start a digital bank.

Participating in the funding were PLDT, KKR, Tencent and IFC Asset Management, a division of World Bank Group member International Finance. The investment includes $121 million in new funding and $46 million from previously committed funds.

The World Bank is an existing investor in Voyager Innovations.

PLDT stated the additional investments would be used to “fast-track financial inclusion” in the Philippines through its fintech arm PayMaya Philippines.

Voyager Innovations also applied for a digital bank licence with the country’s central bank, PLDT said.

Shailesh Baidwan, Voyager Innovations and PayMaya president, said: “As we did with payments and remittances, we will enable the large masses of Filipinos to leapfrog into a new stage of financial inclusion through integrated digital financial services.”

The operator noted only one in three Filipino adults has a formal bank account, and only 3 per cent have borrowed from banks, with more than 77 per cent of the population lacking insurance.

In April 2020, existing investors including KKR and Tencent committed up to $120 million to drive growth of Voyager Innovation’s digital payment service.