One of the things most Filipinos struggled with is having easy access to different kinds of financial services. Not everyone has bank accounts or investments because it’s just hard for some to create accounts.
Reasons can be because banks are just far or maybe there are long lines that we can’t afford to take because we have things to do or it’s open only on weekdays and you’re at work during business hours.
Sometimes it can be because of the requirements which usually is 2 valid IDs and you just have one.
But thanks to the growing financial systems, there are now few ways to create bank accounts just using our phones like what I’ve shared with you in the past about UnionBank.
Unionbank is great so far but there are also a few downsides like having an annual fee and no interest on deposits. So I personally don’t store my money there.
I mainly use it for receiving my paycheck from my online work. Do InstaPay transfers (which is up until today is free) and making online card transactions. But after that my balance is all transferred to GCash to put it in GSave or GInvest.
Nothing is actually bad with what I’m currently using but a buzz is going around for this new app called Tonik. So I’ll review it before you even try it.
What is Tonik Bank?
Tonik Bank is a neobank which means they are branchless and operates fully online. Because they are branchless, it means less cost for them that’s why they are able to provide higher rates for their depositors.
It’s easy to use and has a lot of interesting features which you’ll find out more about today. Also, they are licensed with BSP, and deposits are insured by PDIC (500k deposit insurance in PH) which are all common with all known banks. So to cut it short it is a legit bank. But there’s a lot more to cover, like what are those interesting features and whether it’s advisable to use them or not.
What are the interesting features of the Tonik App?
First of all, they claim what all of the new digital banks have like: No maintaining balance required, free transfers free almost anything, easy process and all that kind of stuff. Well, when GCash started to become serious about the mobile wallet services they’ve done that too to attract users. But after it has become popular they started to add fees in almost any of the transactions you can do with it.
We’ll check on that later on with Tonik but here are the financial products Tonik has that make it very unique.
Savings account with Tonik
So the standard savings account is the first thing you’ll see in the Tonik app once you’ve registered and here’s where all your cash-ins will go.
They offer 1% interest here.
This is the main account, so your balance must be in this part if you have to transfer money to other people.
Virtual Master Card
I like this feature, because from registration and being verified you’ll already have a virtual card that you can use for your online transaction.
The good thing about it is that first of all it’s a master card unlike with what I’ve used with GCash it’s AMEX virtual card which is not always accepted and for some reasons GCash keeps on failing transactions with it so I don’t use it anymore.
Also, with their virtual card, you can enable it or disable it any time to avoid accidentally renewing your free trials or subscription renewals. I love it because I can use it in the play store without worrying about my kids making accidental purchases.
You also have the option here to change the maximum transaction limits just in case you want to control your online spending or just trying to keep safe of your balance in case your virtual card details have been compromised.
They claim to have a physical debit card on their site and they even discuss the fees for ordering one but on the app, I see that it’s still coming soon.
If you’ve seen my old post about UnionBank Goals it’s similar to that. You can set a goal or just a separate place where you can create an account for a specific purpose. It offers a higher interest rate than your regular account which is 4%.
They also have a group stash where you can collaborate with another Tonik member(s) to fund it and that gives a 4.5% interest rate. I haven’t tried the group stash but according to Tonik’s website, only the group stash creator will be able to withdraw funds.
There’s also a catch on the group stash interest rate. You’ll only eligible for 4.5% if the group stash consists of you and another 2 members.
But don’t worry if you’re stashing with a group, they do have a transfer feature for Tonik to Tonik users and it’s also free of charge.
Yes finally! They have time deposits with a higher rate of up to 6% and you can start with a minimum deposit of 5000 PHP and you can leave it there from a minimum of 6 months up to 24 months.
I just find it weird because the highest rate goes to the shortest term which is 6 months.
Cash In and Out Options
At this point all cash-in and cash-out options are free except some of the over-the-counter options. You can refer to this site for the fees.
For cash-ins you can use the following options:
- ONLINE (GCASH, BPI AND UNIONBANK)
- DEBIT CARD
Here are the Cash-Out Options
- InstaPay Bank Transfer
- To Other Tonik Users (using phone or account number)
InstaPay Bank Transfers
Let’s talk about the pros of Tonik Bank
Well yeah, we’ve discussed so far the high rates of their savings products and the interesting products they currently offer. But is there something else for the pros?
Yeah, I think the app itself is really nice. Among all any other banking apps this one is the most user-friendly.
Also if you’re in a rush to create an account and you don’t have your ID at the moment they have an option to skip the ID verification. By doing that your account may be limited. If you don’t get verified your account will only be valid within 12 months with 50K deposit limits and 2 stashes.
Anyway, it’s just good to know in case someone is sending you through Tonik and you’re commuting and needing to create an instant account. LOL.
Cons of Tonik App
I don’t wanna break it with you now but I have to let you know. Let’s start with the mildest to wildest cons. 😅
- The app has the option to view your transaction history but it doesn’t have options to filter and no option to generate statements. I don’t know why some financial apps missed that but I think it’s important because statements can be used as validating documents.
- Lack of bill payments. What kind of bank doesn’t have that? Please let me know. Hahaha.
- Their stash is not perfect too. I think it would’ve been better if they have like an auto transfer to stash. GSave and Unionbank have that kind of feature for auto transfer so why not?
- The killer con, starting July 5, 2021, they’ll start collecting 25 PHP FEE for cash in transactions from most channels (booooo). I think they’ll have free cash-ins with PESOnet but who uses PESOnet? Hahaha, that’s the slowest form of online transaction that I don’t understand why ever existed. LOL.
Other things you may need to know about using Tonik Digital Bank
- They have debit card cash in option which is at the moment still free but you can only use locally issued MasterCard and Visa Debit.
- As you open your account you need to use it within 3 months otherwise your account will be closed.
- They’ll also close your account if you did not have any transactions within 3 consecutive months if there’s no balance on the account
- All interest rates for their savings are per annum and 20% withholding tax still applies on the interest you earn just like all legal banks in the Philippines.
- They’re also planning to have Loans as I could see on their app but I’m hoping as a bank this should be a DECENT one not like cash lending apps that charges notorious fees and interests, I don’t know how those lending apps could be legal (it’s just making people poorer).
Do I recommend it?
Right now YES because there are no fees YET but I’m taking it back because just weeks from now they’ll start having cash-in fees in a ridiculous amount of 25PHP and it applies on almost all cash-in channels. I know it’s common with some mobile wallets but duh this is a digital bank. And banks don’t ask you to pay for deposits coz banks make money from depositors.
They didn’t mention including the BPI and UnionBank direct cash-in method for the fees so if they won’t charge that I think it’s fine. But for those who don’t have bank accounts and trying to consider TONIK as their main bank then it may be too much to save up by depositing with fees. Personally, I will use it if they won’t have the fees even at least with UnionBank direct.
If you’re planning to save little by little let’s say every week and you’ll use the cash-in methods that will have the fees then I’ll provide computation for your sake hehe. Sorry again for the terrible handwriting.
As you can see the interest wouldn’t even be able to cover the cash-in fee. It will only be ideal if you’ll deposit may be at least once a month with a larger amount.
If you deposit 10K then your first-month interest can pay off the cash-in fee but they are targeting a major audience and not everyone could just have 10K to put on savings one time. If you do have then that’s good, especially for long-term holding.
For me, it would’ve been better if they won’t implement a cash-in fee so that people would be more encouraged to save up with them. Banks literally earn from deposits so why charge someone who’s trying to do business with them. They claimed to be a bank so I guess they should act as a bank. I can site more banks similar to them that don’t charge cash in fees but let’s stop it from here because they might think I am overreacting. In case they find this post.
If ever they won’t be adding the 25 PHP Cash-in fee then I think it’s really great but sorry they’ll be adding it on July 5, 2021.
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