Pangilinan bursts Maya IPO bubble: ‘An illusion’ with GCash dominating fintech sector

PLDT chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan has thrown cold water on the idea of a Maya initial public offering (IPO) within the next two years, saying the fintech arm must first demonstrate sustained profitability.

“An IPO for Maya in two years is “an illusion”, Pangilinan said, acknowledging the lead established by rival Globe’s GCash platform.

“They are doing very well. Kudos to them,” Pangilinan said, praising GCash. “In Maya’s case, “we have a lot of work ahead of us so to dream of an IPO in the next two years is simply an illusion.”

Maya, one of the pioneers in introducing e-wallet services in the Philippines, is projected to achieve breakeven EBITDA in the fourth quarter, according to Pangilinan. He said the fintech’s bottom line for full-year 2024 could either be slightly positive or breakeven.

Pangilinan said a Maya IPO in the next 24 months is “misplaced optimism.” “Please don’t talk about it. It won’t happen,” said a visibly disappointed Pangilinan. “They need to demonstrate that they can be profitable starting in 2025 and sustain it for another year,” he added.

Globe Telecom CEO Ernest Cu informed The Business Times in May that Mynt, the holding company of GCash, might consider an IPO for the mobile wallet and digital solutions provider next year.

GCash became profitable in 2021, three years ahead of its target, as its user base and transactions grew,” said Mynt CEO Martha Sazon in February 2022. She noted that the fintech had 55 million registered users at that time.

While Maya has a digital bank and is the largest merchant acquirer, Pangilinan said it remains a ‘debatable point’ whether PLDT’s fintech has a better business than its rival GCash. Maya processes the highest number of transactions for credit card payments and leads in processing QRPH payments, commanding a 45% market share.

“We are way behind in the digital wallet market,” Pangilinan said. “What is the vernacular for e-wallet? It’s not Maya. It’s GCash. Everyone knows that. We aren’t blind.”

Pangilinan himself experienced GCash’s market visibility and influence during a visit to a resort in Calatagan, Batangas. After taking a swim, he recounted how ice cream vendors approached him. When he mentioned that he didn’t have cash to pay, the vendors informed the tycoon that he could use GCash.

“While Maya’s digital bank provides an edge, as GCash doesn’t have its own digital bank, Pangilinan said, “This is not growing as fast as it should be.”

“Given the unfavorable market conditions, the internal valuation for Maya is ‘out of sight,’ Pangilinan said. ‘Show me the money,’ that’s what the market would say.”

In its most recent funding round in 2021, Mynt, which is backed by Chinese fintech giant Ant Financial, was valued at $2 billion.

Pangilinan shared his thoughts on Maya after PLDT’s annual stockholders’ meeting, which highlighted Maya as the No.1 fintech ecosystem in the Philippines.

During the meeting, PLDT reported that Maya had 3.4 million depositors with P29 billion in deposits in the first quarter, marking a 95% and 40% year-on-year increase, respectively. Additionally, Maya boasts a million borrowers and has disbursed P34 billion in loans.

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