5 Filipino innovations that are improving our daily lives

Silicon Valley is usually the first place that comes to mind when thinking about innovative companies. Many innovative companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook have their roots in Silicon Valley.

But Silicon Valley does not have a monopoly on innovation.

South East Asia has a rapidly growing startup ecosystem that has built various innovative solutions that address the problems that many people face in the region.

In the Philippines alone, many startups have developed solutions that eventually proved to be successful and beneficial for the communities that they serve. 

Here are 5 Filipino innovations that are improving our daily lives.

1. XalMeds

For Filipinos regularly taking maintenance and prescription medicines, trips to pharmacies in malls and hospitals are frequent. 

The lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic made these trips difficult due to the reduction of public transportation options. Furthermore, pharmacies may not be accessible to many patients with mobility challenges.

XalMeds is an online pharmacy that is making medicines more accessible and affordable for Filipinos. It allows patients to conveniently order medicines directly on its website from the comfort of their homes. 

The Cebu-based company offers innovative and low-cost medicine subscriptions for as low as Php 99 or USD 2. XalMeds says that its low price point gives its customers up to 95% savings as compared to purchasing medicines elsewhere.

Its XhareMeds medicine sharing program further makes expensive medicines, that are out of reach for most Filipinos, more accessible by utilizing their revenue to procure medicine for patients with financial challenges.

The company was recognized as one of QBO Innovation Hub’s top 100 startups in 2021 and participated in IdeaSpace’s 4-month startup accelerator program in the same year.

2. BackScoop

BackScoop is a free newsletter that covers South East Asian startups and tech. 

Even though the newsletter is just a little over a year old in 2022, it is a glimpse of what the future of news may read and look like. Its entertaining and engaging writing style deviates from the bleak and serious tone used by typical news stories.

The newsletter’s Founder & CEO Amanda Cua wrote that barely any news sources were covering the rapidly growing South East Asian startup ecosystem

This is a striking information gap given that startups in the region raised over USD 25 billion in 2021 and are predicted to have a combined valuation of USD 1 trillion by 2025.

Cua created BackScoop to become the one authoritative source of the region’s latest startup and tech news. It frequently features interviews with South East Asian startup founders and covers the funding rounds of the region’s most innovative startups.

In a CNN Philippines interview, Cua shared that BackScoop has begun efforts to monetize the free newsletter by introducing ads in each edition.

3. Taxumo

Anything related to taxes is almost always bound to be stressful and overwhelming. In the Philippines, freelancers and business owners know the struggle of filling up tax forms and filing their taxes. 

Luckily, there is now a convenient and innovative solution to this problem.

Taxumo is a one-stop shop online tax assistance platform that makes all things tax-related easier and less stressful for Filipinos. The online platform offers various innovative solutions for tax-related issues including business registration, tax filing, and tax payment.    

One of its co-founders, EJ Arboleda, shared that the idea for the platform came about when his wife was stressed about filing monthly taxes for her startup. He created an offline platform that helped her compute and file her taxes.

Arboleda, along with his other co-founders, scaled the solution and launched it in 2016 as an online platform that Filipino freelancers and business owners can use to simplify and automate their tax filing.

It participated in the first cohort of the Innovation for Social Impact Partnership’s 6-month Social Impact Accelerator and won Best FinTech Startup, Best Business Automation Tool, and Best Newcomer at the ASEAN Rice Bowl Awards in 2018.

4. Investagrams

Investing in stocks was once reserved for the wealthy. Today, this is no longer the case.

Many fintech innovations around the world help individuals invest their money in publicly-traded corporations. One of them is Investagrams, a startup making investing in the stock market easier and more accessible for Filipinos.

Investagrams is an online investment analytics platform that allows investors to easily monitor stock data and company news all in one platform for free. Besides Philippine stocks, it also allows investors to monitor US stocks, cryptocurrencies, foreign exchange, and commodities.

The platform’s ‘Social’ function provides a space for investors to discuss their insights and build communities with fellow investors. The platform also has dedicated spaces for beginner and expert investors to continue learning through events, webinars, and online courses. 

In 2020, the company reported that over 650,000 investors have used the platform since its inception in 2015.

5. GCash

GCash needs no introduction for Filipinos. If you live in the Philippines, chances are you already have an account.

The fintech innovation is improving access to financial services in the Philippines, a country where over half the adult population does not have a bank account.

GCash is one of the most widely used online financial platforms in the Philippines and offers various financial services including insurance, banking, bill payment, and investments. 

As one of the largest e-wallets in the Philippines, GCash has over 60 million users nationwide in 2022,  equal to around 83% of the adult population in the country. 

One upcoming feature will allow its users to invest in the Philippine stock market starting in 2023. 

Its wide success in the country empowered the firm that built it, Mynt, to achieve a USD 2 billion valuation in 2021. Mynt was created by Globe Telecom, the Ayala Corporation, and Ant Financial and is one of the few ‘double unicorns’ in South East Asia.

More Filipino innovations in the future?

The Philippines’ startup ecosystem is booming, with many startups working to create new innovative products and services. 

Here at Embiggen, we are working with forward-thinking and innovative corporations to bring their ideas into reality. 

Our corporate venture building (CVB) arm Embiggen Digital Ventures partners with corporations to build new digital ventures to solve the world’s most challenging problems. 

Corporations that build new ventures unlock new innovation-led growth as the newly-built venture acts as a new avenue for growth and revenue.

Learn more about corporate venture building (CVB) here.