Fintech Startup BayaniPay Becomes a ‘Neo-Bank’ By Teaming With East West Bank

Pat Maio
Pat Maio has held various reporting and editorial management positions over the past 25 years, having specialized in business and government reporting. He has held reporting jobs with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Orange County Register, Dow Jones News and other newspapers in Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Fintech Startup BayaniPay Becomes a ‘Neo-Bank’ By Teaming With East West Bank
Photo by Pickawood on Unsplash

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BayaniPay, a Manhattan Beach-based fintech startup that provides cross-border money transfers to Asian countries, has unveiled a new partnership with Pasadena-based East West Bank on a checking account product that will allow customers to bank with BayaniPay and should make it cheaper and easier for them to send money.

Since launching last summer, BayaniPay has focused its efforts allowing users to send money between the U.S. and the Philippines, which it describes as a $12 billion cross-border remittance market driven by the more than 2 million Filipinos living and working in the U.S. The startup partnered with BDO Unibank, the largest bank in the Philippines, enabling money sent from the U.S. to be received at thousands of bank branches and ATMs across the country.

Its new relationship with East West Bank paves BayaniPay’s path to “neo-bank” status by offering customers a no-minimum checking account, as well as a Visa debit card that will provide rewards like cash back at select grocery stores. BayaniPay—whose services are currently only available to California residents—said the partnership will allow users to send cross-border money transfers “at a faster speed.”

“It’s starting out as a remittance company but will end up to be a much more comprehensive digital bank—like a Chime, Monzo Bank or Revolut—specifically tailored for global professionals or immigrant families,” BayaniPay founder and CEO Winston Damarillo told dot.LA. “We can make [money transfers] at a very low cost through our partnership with East West Bank.”

Damarillo also leads Los Angeles-based venture studio Talino Venture Labs, which in addition to BayaniPay has seeded local fintech startups like Asenso Finance. A Silicon Valley veteran, Damarillo ran Intel’s venture capital arm in the 1990s before founding startups like Gluecode Software, which was acquired by IBM in 2005.

In teaming with East West, BayaniPay could also soon find a way to expand its services beyond the Philippines to other Asian countries, according to Damarillo. The Pasadena bank was established nearly 50 years ago to serve Los Angeles’ Chinese-American community and has a presence in China that allows customers to send money to the country.

East West has also invested in BayaniPay through the deal, which represents its first partnership with a neo-bank, according to East West executive vice president and chief operating officer Parker Shi.

Moving forward, Damarillo said BayaniPay plans to build partnerships with a network of restaurant and supermarket chains, which will both serve as physical hubs for sending money and provide its customers with discounts and rewards on purchases. One such partnership is with Pomona-based Filipino supermarket chain Seafood City, which operates more than 30 locations across the western U.S. and Canada.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.