Chemonics CEO Jamey Butcher with Winston Damarillo, CEO of Talino Venture Studios; Vice Catudio, CEO of Higala Technology Inc.

Chemonics News

Chemonics and Talino Launch New Fintech Solution for the Unbanked in the Philippines

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Higala is a new cutting-edge inclusive instant payment system that will ultimately make digital transactions more accessible and affordable for rural banks and their customers in the Philippines.

Chemonics and Talino Venture Studios — a global venture studio that builds sustainable innovation for social impact — have partnered to seed-fund and launch a new inclusive instant payment system (IIPS) on April 25 in Manila. Using cutting-edge, open-source technology, Higala will reach roughly 50 million unbanked people in the Philippines by connecting rural banks and financial institutions to enable real-time payments and settlements. The launch of Higala ushers in a new era for Chemonics as it seeks opportunities and private sector partnerships to deepen its global impact by investing in innovations that contribute to democratized sustainable development solutions.

While Chemonics’ 37 years of USAID-funded development projects in the Philippines partly laid the groundwork for the venture, Higala is entirely private-sector funded and designed to meet an established market demand. As an initial investor, Chemonics has facilitated other investors’ participation based on its experience in the banking sector in Philippines and beyond.

“We are excited to embark on a new journey with Higala, a testament to our commitment to innovation and financial inclusion in the Philippines and other dynamic markets across the globe,” said Jamey Butcher, CEO of Chemonics. “Drawing from three decades of impactful partnerships and success in the financial inclusion space in the Philippines, Higala embodies our vision for affordable, real-time transactions accessible to all Filipino communities.”

With 44 percent of Filipinos being unbanked or without a formal bank account, the lack of access to financial services limits economic opportunities and social inclusion of millions, especially in rural areas where physical bank branches are scarce. Of the 400 banks that currently service rural areas in the Philippines, only 18 of them are currently connected to existing digital infrastructure, hindering interoperability among these banks.

Panel of people involved with the Higala launch
Higala Launch in Manila on April 25, 2024. Pictured: Winston Damarillo, CEO of Talino Venture Studios; Jamey Butcher, president and CEO of Chemonics; Vice Catudio, CEO of Higala Technology Inc.; Steve Haley, director of market development and partnerships of Mojaloop Foundation; Yang Yang Zhang, chief innovation officer of Xendit Philippines Inc.; and emcee Karlo Morales, chief marketing officer, Talino Venture Studios.


To address these challenges, Higala will complement and leverage the existing e-payment infrastructure in the country and expand it to rural communities. Higala will act as a financial superhighway that will connect rural banks, thrift banks, and microfinance institutions currently excluded from payment networks due to high transaction costs. The fintech solution aims to lower the cost of transactions as much as 60 percent for real-time payments and settlements for banks and individual users, making banking more accessible and affordable. By focusing on connecting with rural banks, which serve about 6 million customers, Higala will allow rural bank customers to use mobile money for personal or business purposes for the first time, speeding up the pace of commerce and reducing the reliance on cash.

Furthermore, many current e-payment companies serving the Filipino market are owned and operated from other countries. Higala, however, is managed entirely locally with Filipino leadership and employees, aligning with Chemonics and Talino’s commitment to invest in locally led solutions.

“Higala will help modernize our country’s digital financial infrastructures and enable the participation of financial institutions through our network, said Higala’s president and CEO Vice Catudio. “Our goal is to make banking more inclusive, especially to the underserved segments of the population that have limited access to traditional banking services.”

Visit the Higala website to learn more.

Banner image caption: Vice Catudio, CEO of Higala Technology Inc., Jamey Butcher, president and CEO of Chemonics International, and Winston Damarillo, CEO of Talino Venture Studios at the launch event of Higala in Manila, April 25, 2024.