LATTICE80, the World’s Largest Fintech Hub to be Launched in Singapore


**  A not-for-profit initiative led by Marvelstone Group **

** LATTICE80 has been working closely with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) **

SINGAPORE, Sept. 20, 2016 — Marvelstone Group is set to launch the world’s largest Fintech Hub (over 30,000 sq ft) in early November.

An independent not-for-profit initiative, its objectives are to:

  • Help fintech startups prototype, develop and expand their business models overseas
  • Support existing companies and financial institutions in their adoption of innovations
  • Form public-private partnerships to further develop new tech and financial infrastructure

LATTICE80 is located in the Central Business District (CBD), close to the key financial institutions, stock exchange and the regulators – the same institutions that brought Singapore to its current position as the world’s third most competitive financial centre, after London and New York, according to a survey by London-based research firm Z/Yen Group.

Joe Seunghyun Cho, Chairman of Marvelstone Group commented, “We think Singapore is the right place for a global Fintech Hub for a number of reasons. Singapore, being a traditional financial and trading hub, has the legal infrastructure and access to global investors that budding fintech companies would look for.”

“Plus, the time is right for innovation, and people are more receptive to the use of technology in financial services,” said Marvelstone Group CEO, Gina Heng. She added, “Singapore, as a regional hub can also connect us to fintech globally.”

“LATTICE80,” said Heng, “aims to support the fintech ecosystem in Asia and bridge global players to the region. We have been working closely with MAS, who has made great strides in shaping the local fintech ecosystem. We also seek to bring partners onboard and collaborate with other Fintech hubs like London’s Level 39, Australia’s Stone & Chalk, and Israel’s The Floor.”

The move to establish LATTICE80 is in line with the Singapore Government’s overarching Smart Nation Vision, which is aimed at empowering people and businesses through increased access to data, innovative ideas and solutions, and utilising technology to better serve citizens’ needs.

Said Cho, “Singapore can be the best test bed for smart city solutions. Financial technology is one of the most important components of a Smart Nation, and can serve to power further innovation.

More details will be released closer to the launch.

For media enquiries, please contact: or +65-6817-3141

Continue Reading

Trade Finance in Fintech


Trade Finance

Trade finance is the lifeblood of the global trade industry, which has traditionally been dominated by banks and large financial institutions. It is an umbrella term that describes a range of traditional trade finance techniques and services offered by financial institutions to corporate clients, much of it using paper instruments. 1 The growing risks of fraud in the $4 trillion industry 2 have led to heightened regulatory measures, including increased checks around ‘know your clients’ (KYC) and anti money laundering (AML) legislations. As a result, 46% 3 of the larger financiers have rationalised their funding away from smaller businesses which are deemed to be riskier and cost-ineffective to serve. The global trade finance gap is currently around $1.4 trillion, of which $693 billion relates to developing asia. 4


Problems in Trade Finance

The two main forms of trade finance: inter-company credit and bank-intermediated finance both serve to provide credit, payment guarantees and insurance needed to facilitate the payment for supplies or services.

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are often facing difficulties accessing affordable trade finance. This is a concern since SMEs are leading drivers of trade, employment and economic development.

In addition, corporates are increasing expectant of digitisation of interaction with their financiers, in order to be able to integrate their trade finance services with their various transaction banking services such as payments and cash management.


FinTech Solutions

In the fintech problem statement report produced by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the main problems of the industry were identified to be a lack of trade credit products available for SMEs and inefficiencies in verification processes.

FinTech could potentially solve these via digitisation of trade finance processes and building aggregator-type platforms to connect those who are seeking funding and those who are providing funding.


Blockchain for Trade Finance

Blockchain, the technology underpinning the digital currency Bitcoin, has been gaining the traction in the fintech sphere. As a public digital ledger of data, it allows anything and everything to be independently recorded and verifiable, eliminating the need for a central authority between the transacting parties.

An exciting solution built around the blockchain technology is that of ‘smart contracts’ – contracts that are coded and thus have the ability to self-execute upon a trigger action.

Transferring ownership of goods has long been a slow and obscure process. By leveraging on the technology of a distributed ledger, transacting parties will have real time visibility of transaction along any areas of their supply chains. Smart contracts can be designed to execute a task, for example releasing the shipment immediately upon receiving the payment from the buyer. This greatly reduces fraud and improves auditability.

Blockchain enables trade information to be truthfully represented on the centralised ledger. It will revolutionise the old, manual way of information processing to enable trade processes becoming more optimised, more transparent, and less risky. This would benefit businesses of any scale to secure trust from financiers, overcoming the costs arising from KYC and AML checks.


The Future of Trade Finance and FinTech

While cryptotechnologies like the Blockchain can potentially address the problems salient in trade finance, regulatory frameworks are still far from complete to ensure a fair playing field for stakeholders while ensuring the stability of current payment systems. With uncertainty in regulatory expectations, businesses and financiers are unlikely to adopt the technology rightaway.

Benefits for all stakeholders will only be maximised where mass adoption is reached. One of the biggest challenges would be convincing the stakeholders that the security of the distributed ledgers is comparable, if not better than current proven networks.

Industry cooperation and active engagement issues is critical in bringing onboard the adoption of such technologies to address the inherent gaps.



1. Euro Banking Association, (2016). Applying Cryptotechnologies to Trade Finance. [online] Available at:  

2. Bloomberg. (2016). Fraud in $4 Trillion Trade Finance Has Banks Turning Digital. [online] Available at:  

3. (2015). Trade finance costs on the rise | Treasury Today. [online] Available at:  

4.  Euro Banking Association, (2016). Applying Cryptotechnologies to Trade Finance. [online] Available at:  

Continue Reading

The Rise of InsurTech



FinTechs have become famous, even notorious for disrupting the financial industry. While retail payments services are reaching maturity, the insurance sector is still in its infancy. Nevertheless, it is fast expanding to become one of the largest FinTech segment, comprising over 500 companies in the world. Investments in the InsurTech (Insurance Technology) industry reached a record high in the first quarter of 2016, reaching a cumulative $3.4 billion since 2010.


What is InsurTech?


InsurTech is about technical innovation in the insurance industry. Just as in FinTech, there are various areas within InsurTech that technology can either enhance or disrupt:


  1. Product sales/distribution
  2. Risk Management
  3. Fraud Detection
  4. Claims Management
  5. Service Management
  6. Investment Management


InsurTech leverages on technologies such as Blockchain and smart contract technology to benefit from lowered costs, increased trust and higher cyber security. Such technologies nurture innovation in product/service offerings and distribution, enhance fraud detection and mitigation capabilities, and most importantly, allow for more personalised and accurate claims, service and investment management for today’s digital customers.


Will InsurTechs Succeed?


Younger and nimbler InsurTechs are swiftly capturing customers from industry incumbents. Among these players are InsurTechs ranging from the likes of BoundLSS, an app created to encourage healthier and happier lifestyles, interconnected with wearables and other devices, to aggregator firms like and Zhong An, the first complete online insurance company.


The Tech in InsurTech


InsurTech leverages on technologies such as Blockchain and smart contract technology to benefit from lowered costs, increased trust and higher cyber security. Such technologies offer ease to a wealth of consumer data while eliminating the need for intermediary parties. We see InsurTech entering the narrative of the ‘shareconomy’ today. Insurance is no longer simply about transferring balance-sheet liabilities between parties, but a lifestyle product and service offering through digital engagement. Nearly 80% of insurance customers are looking for personalised and just-in-time insurance just like Cuvva, an hourly car insurance app.  


The three main technologies of the IoT relating to smart ecosystems, wearable technology and autonomous devices such as driverless cars all serve to alter the fundamental nature of risk in insurance, in particular, risk transparency and risk ownership. For one, wearable technology such as the Apple Watch would enable better understanding of each individual’s health state and therefore allow for more dynamic pricing models rather than just considering a static variable – age. In the Internet of Things, we have also seen a reduction of distance and friction across space and time made possible by smart ecosystems. In a smart home, for example, built-in technology would be able to detect and automatically turn off the electrical system when it detect anomalies. Driverless cars would also serve to enhance data collection and analysis of road safety. In auto insurance, this would imply that the ownership of risk no longer lies within the driver, but with vehicle manufacturers.


On a macro level, technology is also changing insurance business models. Aggregator business models are gaining popularity in their ability to offer enhanced offerings such as price comparisons and financial advice in addition to building personalised insurance plans for consumers.


The Future of InsurTech


In the vision of InsurTech entrepreneurs, insurance in the future is all about leveraging upon these innovative technologies in order to remain relevant and flexible to the shifting demands and consumption patterns of today’s consumers. In the advance into connected technologies, it is imperative that insurers have the skill and capability to build on customer data and establish trust relationships.


Continue Reading

Marvelstone Tech launches FundEast to help SMEs maximize profit from trade transactions


Marvelstone Tech, a fintech platform under private investment group Marvelstone Group, has today announced the launching of FundEast, a fintech startup that does structured trade finance for Asia, this month. Tapping on its vast connections and deep domain knowledge, FundEast will help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) facilitate their trade transactions at rates that are far more favorable than what current solutions can offer, helping them to maximize their profits and improve their working capital.

Despite SMEs in Asia reporting strong growth over the past year, most remain underserved and unserved by traditional financial institutions. This is because SMEs are usually unable to meet credit requirements, and interest rates are prohibitive. Alternative financiers, such as peer-to-peer and crowdfunded lending platforms, have also recently emerged to provide SMEs with easier access to loans. However, they only solve one part of the problem as these loans come at a cost that exceed those offered by banks.

“The vision for FundEast is to help underserved SMEs in Asia, where we can create a greater impact,” said Joe Seunghyun Cho, co-founder and chairman of Marvelstone Tech. “We will use technology to bring advanced services that only investment banks, like Goldman Sachs, used to offer. Big data will help us to manage credit risk better.”

Terry Cho, chairman of Marvelstone Tech Korea, also sees a big opportunity in basing FundEast out of Singapore. “Recently, SPRING Singapore launched a S$2 billion dollar loan programme for SMEs. This demonstrates how progressive the local government is when it comes to finance and business,” he said. “We believe that Singapore will continue to be Asia’s leading trade hub, and we want to play a part in that.”

For more information, please contact


About Marvelstone Group

Marvelstone Group ( is a private investment group that develops and invests in growing businesses. With finance as our core strength, Marvelstone Group also has diversified investments in technology, real estate, hospitality, trading, and media.

Connect with Marvelstone Group


About Marvelstone Tech

Marvelstone Tech is a fintech platform under private investment group Marvelstone Group. Through investments and venture building, Marvelstone Tech aims to become Asia’s first digital bank.


Connect with Marvelstone Tech


For media queries, please contact:

Jae Kim /

Continue Reading

Top 10 Most Well-funded Fintech Startups in Singapore

top 10 fintech startups singapore

Last year, Singapore ranked 10th place in a list of 2015 top entrepreneurial ecosystems listed by Compass Group, moving 7 places up from the previous report. Accordingly, local startups are thriving and attracting unprecedented amounts of funding.

Fintech startups, in particular, are leading the way. Based on CB Insight’s report, Singapore ranks third in the world when it comes to payment tech VC-backed investment during the first quarter of this year, coming just after the US and UK. The figure is only expected to grow with the huge demand of alternative payment methods for the unbanked population across Asia.

Here are top 10 most funded fintech startups in Singapore, listed in descending order of total equity funding (thanks to Tech in Asia and Crunchbase for the data)

MDAQ top 10 fintech startups singapore

1. M-DAQ

Total equity funding: $99.5M

The latest funding round: Series C

Founders: Richard Koh, Wong Joo Seng, Noboru Takahashi

Description: M-DAQ is a trading platform that any stocks or tradable goods in multi-currency can be exchanged in a more secured and efficient manner.

fastacash top 10 fintech startups singapore

2. FastaCash

Total equity funding: $23.5M

The latest funding round: Series B

Founders: Michael Wee, Shankar Narayanan

Description: The social payment platform that allow digital transfer through any social networks and messaging apps.

tradehero top 10 fintech startups singapore

3. TradeHero

Total equity funding: $10.46M

The latest funding round: Series A

Founders: Dominic Morris, Dinesh Bhatia

Description: TradeHero provides a trading simulation with virtual portfolio based on real world data and a social network with validated traders for exclusive tips.

2c2p top 10 fintech startups singapore

4. 2C2P

Total equity funding: $10M

The latest funding round: Series C

Founders: Aung Kyaw Moe

Description: 2C2P is an international payment processer to help e-commerce and m-commerce merchants and allow payments in all credit cards and variety of banks in Asia.

canopy top 10 fintech startups singapore

5. Canopy

Total equity funding: $5.3M

The latest funding round: Venture

Founders: Tanmai Sharma

Description: Canopy is the private wealth management solution that aggregates and visualizes the entire financial accounts into one report.

funding societies top 10 fintech startups singapore

6. Funding Societies

Total equity funding: $7.46M

The latest funding round: Series A

Founders: Reynold Wijaya, Kelvin Teo

Description: Funding Society is a secure online platform that helps with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)’s growth in Southeast Asia by providing equitable funding access from individual and institutional leaders.

coda payments top 10 fintech startups singapore

7. Coda Payments

Total equity funding: $5.2M

The latest funding round: Series A

Founders: Bobby Choi, Paul Leishman, Neil Davidson

Description: Coda Payments is an alternative payment gateway for merchants to accept payments from cardless customers in Southeast Asia via direct carrier billing, bank transfers, cash payments at convenience stores, and physical vouchers.

numoni top 10 fintech startups singapore

8. Numoni

Total equity funding: $4.76M

The latest funding round: Series B

Founders: Norma Sit

Description: Numoni is a group that developed NUGEN, user-friendly cash transaction terminal, allowing e-transaction for unbanked population.

smartkarma top 10 fintech startups singapore

9. Smartkarma

Total equity funding: $4.7M

The latest funding round: Venture

Founders: Jon Foster, Raghav Kapoor

Description: Smartkarma is the premier collaborative marketplace for Asian investment research and analysis.

gocoin top 10 fintech startups singapore

10. GoCoin

Total equity funding: $3.3M

The latest funding round: Crowdfunding

Founders: Brock Pierce, Steve Beauregard, Kevin Beauregard, William Quigley

Description: GoCoin is an online payment processing provider with bitcoin technology. It allows customers to pay in their currency and make sure merchants to get paid in the currency they want.

Continue Reading

Here Are the Top 38 Fintech Influencers in Asia You Should Know About


Fintech is a fast-growing field among banks and startups alike in Asia. In some countries, millions of people are still just getting to know the internet. In others, established players have cornered the market and been stubborn to change.

But the people want easier to access to loans, more flexible payment options, and sound investment options. That’s where the people on this list come in.

We’ve amassed 38 influencers that are shaping the future of financial technology in Asia. Seven are women. 11 are from Singapore, and 6 are from Hong Kong. They are bankers, entrepreneurs, bloggers, and executives working to change the world uses money.



1) Lucy Peng, CEO of Ant Financial

A former school teacher, Peng leads the financial arm of Chinese ecommerce titan Alibaba Ant Financial operates a money market fund, peer-to-peer lending, and microloans, while also investing in startups.

2) Wei Hopeman, Managing Partner at Arbor Ventures

Prior to establishing Arbor Ventures, Hopeman formerly served as the Head of Asia for Citi Ventures and managed the private equity practice at Winnington Capital. An advocate for women in the fintech and startup sector, she was previously the Vice Chairman of Women in Leadership in China.

3) Hai Yin, CEO of ZhongAn Insurance

Zhong An was the first insurance company in China to sell policies and handle claims online. It now sells insurance policies to vendors on Taobao, and Hai says the company will experiment with using data generated online to assess and control risk.


Hong Kong

4) Janos Barberis, CEO of FinTech Hong Kong

FinTech Hong Kong is a web platform that connects 619 influencers, mentors, and enthusiasts in the city, along with dozens of startups and events. Barberis founded the SuperCharger, an accelerator backed by Chinese search giant Baidu and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)

5) Steve Monaghan, Limited Partner and True Global Ventures

Monaghan specializes in the creation of business models exploiting market asymmetries to create new businesses. He has a proven track record in Asia’s financial world, including retail banking, consumer finance, and corporate and investment banking. In addition to his role at True Global Ventures, Steve is the regional director accountable  for group innovation at AIA.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)

6) Mikaal Abdullah, CEO of 8 Securities

Abdullah co-founded 8Securities, Asia’s first socially networked trading portal based in Hong Kong. He writes about startups, digital marketing and UX for several Asia technology blogs and is a mentor at Chinaccelerator and Startups HK.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)

7) George Harrap, CEO of Bitspark

Bitspark pioneered the worlds first cash in cash out remittances via Bitcoin. Harrap is a blockchain evangelist, speaker, and guest writer on tech blogs.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)

8) Simon Loong, CEO of WeLab

WeLab operates in both Hong Kong and mainland China as a peer-to-peer lending platform. A former commercial banker with 15 years’ experience at Citibank and Standard Chartered, Loong aims to offer alternatives to borrowers who struggle to obtain funds from lenders that use traditional risk-checking tools.


9) Sam Allen, CEO of CompareAsiaGroup

CompareAsiaGroup operates a comparison platform for financial, telco, and utility products across Asia. Prior to CompareAsiaGroup, Allen spent nine years as director in KKR’s portfolio operations team and a member of the Asia Leadership Team.




10) Vijay Shekhar Sharma, CEO of One97

Sharma founded One97 and Paytm. Paytm lets users recharge their phones, pay bills, shop, and book travel online.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)

11) Aman Narain, CEO of BankBazaar International

BankBazaar is an online financial services website offering instant access and quotes on loans, credit cards, savings and insurance products. It partners with over 35 leading financial institutions in India. Narain is the former Global Head of Digital Banking for Standard Chartered  and a strategic advisor at Smart Karma, Intelligent Investing and Aleph Labs.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)

12) Shikha Sharma, CEO of Axis Bank

The head of India’s third-largest private bank, sharma strengthened Axis Bank’s retail lending franchise, enlarged its investment banking and advisory capabilities, and developed a comprehensive portfolio of products in the payments space. Since her appointment to CEO in 2009, the bank’s stock has appreciated by 90 percent.


13) Chanda Kochhar, CEO and MD of ICICI Bank

Kochhar helped to shape India’s retail banking sector. She focuses on bringing mobile banking to rural areas.



14) Adrianna Tan, founder of Wobe

Wobe allows low-income men and women in Indonesia become sales agents by allowing them to easily buy and resell phone credit at a fair price. Tan is also the founder and managing director of the Gyanada Foundation, a non-profit in India that helps girls get a better education.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)



15) Katsuaki Sato, CEO of Metaps

Metaps’ online payment service Spike allows mechants to process up to $10,000 per month for free. Sato believes the current business model of payments is obsolete, and banks as they are now will not exist in the future.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)

16) Takako Kansai, CEO of Zaim

Zaim lets anyone track of their finances by connecting credit cards, bank accounts, and receipts scanned with a phone camera.  Zaim aggregates local data on insurance and government support programs to help users with their tax returns. She says people in Japan spend too much on insurance, and wants to change that.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)

17) Tomoyuki Sugiyama, CEO of Crowdcredit

Crowdcredit is a peer-to-peer lending platform for emerging markets. It raises funds via crowdfunding in Japan to finance SME and personal loans in Latin American countries.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)



18) Bruno Araújo, CEO of is a financial comparison website that caters primarily to the Malaysian market. Araújo grew the company to a $20 million valuation in two years.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)

19) Yuen Tuck Siew, CEO of Saving Plus

Yuen grew an online financial comparison site to a full-stack fintech solution for customer acquisition and management. He has a fundamental belief that consumers should be able to apply for any financial product, anytime, anywhere and from any device. His mission is to build Saving Plus into the Amazon of Financial Service.




20) Brad Jones, CEO of Wave Money

An executive in digital finance, Brad Jones run joint venture between Myanmar telco Telenor and bank Yoma Bank. The company will provide mobile financial services to the masses in Myanmar.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)



21) Faisal Khan, CEO of Faisal Khan & Company

A Pakistan-based consultant and blogger specializing in banking, payments, an fintech. Khan covers cutting-edged technologies and explains how specific innovations work. He also conducts market analysis, product reviews and report summaries.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)



22) Ron Hose, CEO of was developed for the Philippines since many of the citizens there do not have bank accounts. In May 2014, organized and hosted Asia’s first Bitcoin hackathon.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)

23) Mikko Perez, founder of Ayannah

Ayannah provides digital financial services to the world’s unbanked. Perez remains actively involved in initiatives that support social entrepreneurship and sustainable development in emerging markets.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)



24) Scott Bales, author of Innovation Wars

Founder of Metlife’s Innovation Centre, Bales now runs Innovation Labs Asia in Singapore. He’s a founding member of Next Bank, the vice president of The Mobile Alliance Singapore, and holds advisor positions at Fastacash, Our Better World, The HUB Singapore, and Apps 4 Good.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)

25) Rob Findlay, SVP at DBS Bank

Aside from consulting on developing and leading a customer experience design practice at DBS, Findlay has served as a mentor for startups in the IBM Watson New Venture Challenge and Startupbootcamp FinTech in Singapore. He’s also the founder of Next Money, an open and collaborative community driving change for the better in the banking industry through design, innovation and entrepreneurship.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)

26) Brad Paterson, VP and Managing Director of APAC at Intuit

Paterson is small business enthusiast with a passion for all things tech, including payments. He is responsible for Intuit’s expansion across Asia-Pacific. Intuit makes personal finance and tax software for small businesses.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)

27) Joe Seunghyun Cho, Chairman of Marvelstone Group

Marvelstone Group is a private investment group that develops and invests in growing businesses, with finance as its core strength. Cho is the founder and chairman, who ensures that the group’s resources are fully optimized.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)

28) Tyson Hackwood, Head of Asia at Braintree

Hackwood leads the expansion of Braintree in Asia and its mobile payments system. Previously, he played a role at PayPal’s New Ventures team and led the establishment of Paypal Here.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)

29) Dinesh Bhatia, CEO of TradeHero

TradeHero is a learning and trading tip platform for financial retail products. Bhatia was listed among the 100 Most Creative People in Business for 2015 Award by Fast Company.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)

30) Piyush Gupta, CEO of DBS Bank

Gupta has led the Singaporean bank for the last five years. He focuses on innovation and customer experience, emphasizing the need for banks to embrace the digital transformation.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)

31) Tobias Puehse, VP of Innovation Management APAC at Mastercard

Tobias (“Toby”) Puehse leads innovation management for MasterCard Digital Payments & Labs in Asia Pacific. He is actively involved in the creation of Smart Nation technology in Singapore. In 2016, Toby was named one of Asia’s Top 100 Leaders in FinTech.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)

32) Raghav Kapoor, Smartkarma

Smartkarma is the premier collaborative marketplace for Asian investment research and analysis. He was ranked as Asia’s number one investment idea generator from 2011 to 2013, based on the performance analysis of over a million top investment ideas.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)

33) Matt Dill, Senior VP, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships at Visa

The responsibility of extending the reach of Visa’s payment network falls to Dill. It’s his job to identify, develop, and commercialize relationships with partners in Southeast Asia.


34) Shailesh Naik, CEO of Matchmove

Matchmove is an enterprise platform provider of mobile commerce, social enterprise and gamification solutions. Launched the first pan-Asia cloud-based mobile payment card with American Express and Mastercard.



South Korea

35) Soyeong Park, CEO of PayGate

PayGate is a cross-border online payment process handling company with over 17 years of experience and supporting over 3,000 merchants. Park was also instrumental in the launch of Korea’s first fintech forum in late 2014.




36) Jun Hasegawa, CEO of Omise

Omise is a payment gateway in Thailand offering a wide range of processing solutions for businesses. Hasegawa, a Japanese-American, says the company will expand to Japan to tackle payment gaps there next.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)



37) Christian König, Fintech expert

A mentor, speaker, and expert in financial products, König splits his time between Zurich, Ho Chi Minh, and Singapore. He wear many hats and publishes on several blogs.

(LinkedIn, Twitter)

38) Pham Thanh Duc, CEO of M-Service

Momo, M-Service’s premier product, offers a mobile wallet and payment app and a banking service for those without a traditional bank account. Momo plans to grow its banking network to 11,000 agents by the end of 2017.


Continue Reading

Fintech Innovation Spaces

innovation lab

Fintech Innovation Spaces

Fintech innovation labs and fintech accelerator / incubator spaces, have been growing rapidly in number throughout Asia.

Characteristics and Operations of Fintech Labs in Asia

Early fintech startups often believe they have a revolutionary product, but they face hurdles to make their product so. That is, the product may not be finalized yet or funding may not be completely ready. On top of that, they face the competitive fintech space. Therefore, many of these startups, seeking valuable mentorship and money, find and apply for innovation labs, where they are able to work alongside other startups and collaborate with other partners.

Motivation of Banks and Other Lab-Operators

Why are banks and other groups interested in starting fintech innovation spaces? With the rise of financial technology, traditional banks and financial institutions find themselves being displaced. Furthermore, investors notice and find interesting the unique and effective ideas emerging from the fintech space. This has lead to a number of these banks, financial companies, and investors starting fintech innovation centers. By doing so, these groups are not only able to assist fintech developers and startups, but also identify new and possibly disruptive platforms before their competitors do. In addition, a majority of these lab and accelerator owners seek corporate sponsors to fund their labs.

Current Programs by Banks

HSBC began their Singapore Innovation Lab in order to collaborate with corporates to build the next generation of digital and mobile banking tools. They would like to target their corporate banking needs in payments, trade, and supply chain. HSBC also aims to expose the latest trends in fintech, thereby establishing themselves as a leader in digital banking in Asia. Within their labs, they run business simulations to test ideas, to see the extent of digital disruption and to improve products before launch. In their London and Hong Kong fintech lab branches, HSBC also mentors new businesses to introduce them to partners, test their business strategies, and provide insight into the financial sector. HSBC implements this by working with HSBC clients, technology firms, researchers, and the government. They also became a founding partner in Stone & Chalk, the fintech lab in Sydney, Australia.

Similarly, the Commonwealth Bank of Hong Kong’s Innovation Lab aims to connect customers, employees, and startup communities with the latest fintech trends and developments. They run an incubation garage space to build products, a collaboration hub to test prototypes and analyze challenges, and a usability room as a live testing facility with eye-tracking technology. Once again, the government, university, and startup and fintech communities serve as partners with the Innovation Lab.

Standard Chartered of Singapore also launched a fintech lab, the eXellerator, which would like to explore the use of emerging technologies and data sciences in developing sustainable business solutions. This center stems from the Silicon Valley, SC Studios. By encouraging rapid development of digital solutions to provide increased value to clients, through improved service and business models, the bank aims to improve customer experience, reduce costs and risks, and transfer more power into the hands of the users.

More recently, OCBC launched The Open Vault in Singapore, which focuses on developing solutions for wealth management, credit and financing, insurance, cyber security, and artificial intelligence. The bank aims to convince 1000 of its employees to change their mindsets and welcome new ideas. They do so with a 12 week accelerator program for startups, ending with an investor demo day, that provides the companies with access to the bank’s customer data and interfaces.

DBS in Hong Kong also would like to drive innovation with its accelerator, thereby allowing the bank to better serve its customers with new solutions. They would like to focus on making the future of banking safer, more efficient, and more accessible. The accelerator also offers the 12 week mentor program, held at a former bank vault. They bring in various partners, such as Microsoft, InvestHK, KPMG, Ovolo, Samsung, Thomson Reuters, Yodlee, Amazon, Softlayer, IBM, and Esri. Citi’s Mobile Challenge acts similar to a fintech space in that it inspires developers to rethink mobile banking with its virtual accelerator, curriculum, and mentorship program.

Labs Launched by Other Large Companies

Insurance companies like Aviva and Allianz in Singapore have also started their own labs, the Digital Garage and Asia Lab, respectively. Both contain a dedicated space where technology experts, designers, and business leaders work on new insurance products and service ideas, that optimize value to the users, to prototype and then test in the market. In Allianz’ much smaller lab, they plan to use information discovered to decide how to price premiums, build new insurance packages, and detect fraud. For example, one project is focusing on solutions for patients with chronic diseases.

In April, Visa launched an Innovation Centre in Singapore, providing access to its API and SDKs to the companies joining the lab, in order to boost the community of developers to make advancements in digital payments.

Accenture, a consulting firm, launched the FinTech Innovation Lab Asia Pacific Program in 2014 and is based in Hong Kong (with DBS), alongside its branches in New York and London. It takes in startups or new ideas in the fintech space, across banking, insurance, and capital markets. Those selected from the application process then have access to mentoring from industry specialists, feedback, strategy development and pitch advice, workshops on relevant topics, PR assistance, a workspace, and special accommodation rates nearby. It is a 12 week program that concludes with an investor day for the early and growth-stage companies to seek funding. Accenture’s program works with banks such as Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan, and UBS.

Fintech Spaces Launched by Outside Groups

Internationally, Europe’s largest tech-based accelerator, Level39, focuses on finance, retail, cyber security, and future cities technology products. They have a short application, asking about the company and target industry, along with different levels of membership fees in order to join. As with other labs, they offer a specific curriculum, mentors, events, and in-class facilities. In Sydney, Australia, Stone & Chalk is a not-for-profit fintech lab that holds about 41 companies, chosen through a rigorous application process, and aims to be the heart of fintech within the Asia Pacific region.

Innovation Labs versus Accelerators

Innovation labs focus more on research itself by bringing in or hiring partners, technology specialists, and data scientists. On the other hand, accelerators and incubators often operate as programs by bringing in startups and offering mentorships, teach-ins, and more.

Furthermore, in-house labs work similar to accelerators in that a team collaborates to develop a new product or service. On the other hand, independent innovation labs develop solutions that can enhance and work with the company’s current development abilities, similar to innovation labs.

Fintech Spaces and the Future

With the growth of fintech innovation spaces in Asia, the resources and assistance provided to startups and ideas is abundant. The accelerated growth and development of these ideas into products will soon change the landscape of finance today and how we interact with it, bringing technology to the forefront of the traditional finance sector.

Continue Reading
1 2 3 25