A Ukrainian banker provides a Tonik for the Philippines
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Southeast Asia

A Ukrainian banker provides a Tonik for the Philippines

Illustration: Kevin February

Greg Krasnov, a banker from war-torn Ukraine, is shaking up finance in the Philippines with the assistance of his digital neobank.

Geographically, culturally, and politically, the Philippines’ capital, Manila, has very little in common with the Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv on the other side of the planet.

Manila is a tropical metropolis, with a population of 24 million while Mykolaiv is home to just 470,000 people, who shiver through the freezing winters by the Black Sea. And since February last year, Mykolaiv has been on the front line of Ukraine’s defence from Russian invaders. Putin’s forces briefly occupied the city’s surroundings but were repelled in the now-celebrated ‘Battle of Mykolaiv’ that waged for five brutal weeks. Then in June this year, Mykolaiv was inundated by floodwaters when the Nova Kakhovka dam 150 kilometres away was sabotaged.

But there is an unlikely connection between Manila and Mykolaiv, one that is transforming the banking experience of many tech-savvy Filipinos.

Just the Tonik

Grigory 'Greg' Krasnov grew up in Mykolaiv. Today, he runs a fast-growing Philippine digital bank called Tonik, which claims to be southeast Asia’s first neobank. It boasts customer deposits of about $250 million and has attracted about half that figure again in investor backing, including from Japanese bank Mizuho, barely two years since it launched.

As improbable as it might seem, Ukraine has been important in Tonik’s emergence in the Philippines.


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