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 ascending 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: Wong Joo Seng, Richard Koh

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.

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

singapore

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.

 

China

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.

(LinkedIn)

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.

(LinkedIn)

 

India

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.

(LinkedIn)

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.

 

Indonesia

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)

 

Japan

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)

 

Malaysia

18) Bruno Araújo, CEO of iMoney.my

iMoney.my 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.

(LinkedIn)

 

Myanmar

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)

 

Pakistan

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)

 

Philippines

22) Ron Hose, CEO of Coins.ph

Coins.ph was developed for the Philippines since many of the citizens there do not have bank accounts. In May 2014, Coins.ph 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)

 

Singapore

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.

(LinkedIn)

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.

(LinkedIn)

 

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.

(LinkedIn)

 

Thailand

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)

 

Vietnam

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.

 

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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.

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Robo Advisors

Robo Advisors

What Are Robo-Advisors

A robo-advisor is an online, software-based, automated platform that can manage wealth. The investment service uses special algorithms and other programming to give advice on how to manage a portfolio. In other words, a robo-advisor performs similar tasks as a financial planner or advisor, but it is run by software instead of by humans.

How They Are Being Used

They have been most commonly used to give investment advice to their customers, and they tend not to manage the more personal parts of finances, like taxes. However, their uses are expanding today. Many are able to take personal situations into account in order to provide suitable investment advice. For example, when nearing retirement age, robo-advisors suggest to shift money safer investment types. Overall, robo-advisors perform similar to a target retirement fund, in that they automatically adjust the client’s portfolio when the market shifts to maintain a good combination of stocks, bonds, and other asset classes.

Advantages of Robo-Advisors

Robo-advisors are usually lower cost, making managing wealth professionally a bit more affordable. Most robo-advisors charge depending on how much the client invests with them, and this often averages out lower than the charge of a financial advisor, due to economies of scale.

In addition, they tend to set lower account minimum requirements. This means that, in order to get started with a robo-advisor, the client is not required to put in as much money, making it easier to get started while lowering risks.

While making investing easy, affordable, and enjoyable, robo-advisors also remove some of the uncertainty from investing. They create the portfolio, invest in ETF’s, continuously balance the portfolio, reinvest any dividends, and possibly even harvest tax losses.

Lastly, everything is shifting to be done quickly, through the internet or phones. Technology is focused around making life easier and more efficient, and robo-advising is another one of those developments to help do just that.

Different Types and Capabilities

Robo-advisors do differ from one another. First, costs range across the different service platforms. Also, some robo-advising services ask for money to be transferred to them, while others accept investments being stored at popular brokerages; this is a difference over custody. They may only support certain types of accounts: such as retirement accounts, taxable accounts, or accounts for the self-employed. Furthermore, some may limit which ETF’s the client can invest in. In addition, tax loss harvesting capabilities vary across different robo-advisors. Some may permit the client to invest in individual stocks, but most service do not not allow it.

Most robo-advisors fall under three main categories: fully automated, incorporation of existing brokerage accounts, and support of active trading.

Fully automated ones manage almost all components of investing. Once money is placed in the account, the robo-advisor takes care of everything, which also means that not much flexibility or control is available to the client.

The next type allows the user to keep money in an existing brokerage account, and the robo-advisor then manages the asset mix, rebalancing, and dividend reinvestment, within this account. These kinds of services also offer asset mix, or allocation, advice to allow the clients the option to manage their own accounts.

Robo-advisors that support active traders as clients offer the tools and advice to assist the client wanting to invest in stocks individually.

The Future of Robo-Advising

A relatively new but growing space, many robo-advisors are not profitable yet but do receive much funding from venture capitalists. Meanwhile, certain companies have achieved over $1 billion under management. Some prominent players include Betterment, Wealthfront, Personal Capital, Motif, and Asset Builder. Other more recent developments include, as examples,  LearnVest and Ellevest, which launched a robo-advisor geared towards women in the United States. The more established brokerages and funds have begun to recognize and act on the emergence of robo-advisors. Recently, Fidelity partnered with Betterment, and Charles Schwab plans to release its own automated investing service, Schwab Intelligent Portfolios.

In Asia, the field is relatively new but growing at a rapid pace. That is, five out of six major Internet companies in Asia already have launched robo-advisors. 8 Securities, a Hong-Kong based mobile trading and investing service, released Asia’s first robo-advisor, 8 Now! in Japan in April of 2015. 8 Now! services both Japan and Hong Kong, and currently allows for any investment above $1000 USD.  Also in Japan, Money Design launched the country’s first independent robo-advising company, which plans to focus on retail investing. Meanwhile, Bambu, operates as a B2B robo-advisor in Asia, and within two months of launch has secured partnerships with Thomson Reuters, Tigerspike, Finantix, and Eigencat. Infinity Partners and Smartly aim to launch soon as the first platforms in Singapore, along with the new-to-market and women-focused robo-advisor, Miss Kaya. BlackRock has begun working with Japan’s Mizuho Bank’s automated service, Smart Folio, and now looks to also partner with robo-advisors in Singapore. TenCent, based in China, offers its wealth management service through its messaging platform, WeChat. As the field continues to expand and evolve in Asia, the different usages of the robo-advising software will be seen.

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FTA Interviews Ned Phillips, Founder and CEO of Bambu

ned phillips fintech asia interview bambu robo advisor

Ned Phillips is the founder and CEO of Bambu, a Singapore-based B2B robo-advisor offering digital wealth services to businesses.

 

FTA: Can you share a bit about your background and your experiences?

 

NP: I have been based in Asia since 1991, lived for 13 years in Hong Kong and 13 years in Singapore. I ran my own financial publishing business in the mid 90’s in Hong Kong. I also worked for E*TRADE in Hong Kong and Singapore and ended up being the Managing Director for E*TRADE in Asia.

 

I then worked in exchange technology from 2007-2012 and built two regional alternative stock exchanges, one of which was with the Singapore Exchange (SGX). In the last three years, I have worked on a variety of Fintech projects including a blockchain exchange and consulting on Asia’s first Robo Advisor. 

 

FTA: Tell us more about Bambu!

 

NP: It is a Robo Advisor for everyone! We have sophisticated portfolios for knowledgeable investors that can be used by all financial institutions. We also have goal-based savings for the mass market that enables savers to achieve their goals quicker than they think they can. We have brought together world class partners such as Thomson Reuters, Tigerspike and others. We even managed to sign our first client after 2 months of launch!

 

FTA: How did you come about starting Bambu? And how did your background help in your entrepreneurial journey?

NP: I have started companies, I have invested in companies, I helped launch Asia’s first Robo and I am old enough to have seen a few business cycles so I feel that I have the right skills to make a really good go of it. Also I have been in FinTech since 1999 with E*TRADE. So, it seemed crazy for me not to get involved. I have also consulted on Asia’s first Robo, so I do have the experience in this area.

 

FTA: What are some of the current challenges that you are wrestling with?

NP: Getting enough staff on board to deal with all the demand is a challenge. FinTech is booming and Singapore is doing a great job at making it achievable. Bambu is in the right place with a great team. We have huge demand and I need more people to help me!

 

FTA: What are your thoughts about the wealth management and personal finance scene in Asia, and in particular, Singapore.

NP: I think it covers a really wide range. Some of the products are certainly not ideal for everyone, and people with small sums to invest don’t get a fair share of products and services. We see digital adoption rising quickly and that will be great for consumers. We also have great faith in the MAS to help this sector in becoming more efficient and fairly-priced.

 

 

FTA: What do you think is lacking in fintech startups in Singapore, or in Asia? 

Two things, sales and experience. Too many people build the technology and hope that people will come and find it. They won’t. The thought process of ‘build it and they will come’, really doesn’t work.

Too many young guys build great technology but they don’t go out and sell it the old fashioned way, which is by meeting a lot of potential customers. At Bambu, we meet as many customers as possible. That’s how we managed to sign our first deal two months after launch. 

Also, we don’t have enough old experienced people. It’s great to be 23 and keen, but I think being 49 and experienced worths more!

 

FTA: Do you believe that financial institutions and fintech startups should collaborate, as recently mentioned by MAS? Why do you think so? And how do you think a collaborative strategy can be put in place?

NP: Yes I do, but for some and not all. Banks can learn a lot from the start ups but they need to take risks and be prepared to see some of the firms that they back, fail and to be alright with that. It will help the banks understand what is achievable if you move quickly without legacy. I believe that the banks in Singapore are doing a good job on this. 

 

FTA: If you can give your 20-year-old self some advice, what would you say?

NP: Life has been pretty cool! I have been lucky. I left the UK in 1990 when I was in my twenties with a $100 note in my pocket and a one way ticket to Asia. 26 years later, it is all good. My advice would be to do it all again! 


FTA: Who is your biggest inspiration or drive to do what you are doing?

NP: First and foremost, my family. Secondly, myself. I know I can make this a successful business and I want to prove that I can do it. I have been a competitive amateur athlete for 20 years, and have been lucky enough to meet most of my goals. I have run over a 100KM in one go on many occasions. I have been to the Ironman World Championship. When I set a goal, I get pretty focused to achieve it. Same with Bambu!

 

FTA: What’s next for you and for Bambu?

NP: In endurance sport, we have a phrase when we are training, “Chop wood, carry water”. It means work hard, focus on the task day-by-day and the outcome will take off itself.  Every day I put all my effort into growing Bambu. Sales, product, marketing staff. If you work hard day-by-day the outcome will take care of it self.


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Central Bank of Ireland’s Cashless HQ

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Following Scotland’s news on setting up a Fintech Strategy group several days ago, the Central Bank of Ireland has announced their latest campaign to turn Ireland into a cashless society.

The campaign begins with transforming the Central Bank’s new headquarters in Dublin’s North Wall Quay by installing a cashless payment system. They have put in a tender to supply and install this system. With this, staff can no longer use cash or coins for their purchases within the HQ.

A cashless system has been in place in four of their offices in Ireland, but the new setup in their new HQ is going to be a big project as they will be moving employees from three of their offices to the HQ by December this year. 

This comes as no surprise as an early survey conducted by Visa in February this year demonstrated that Ireland showed a 12.7% increase in card spending. Besides that, the adoption for contactless payments rose to one per second last year. 

The Central Bank’s campaign on moving Ireland towards a cashless society began in 2014 where they launched a 1 million euro campaign to persuade both consumers and businesses to switch to digital transactions instead of cash and cheques.

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OCBC OneTouch Fingerprint Access for Business Customers

ocbc onetouch fingerprint access business

Singapore-based OCBC Bank has launched a new feature for their Business Mobile Banking app – fingerprint biometric recognition.

From Monday onwards, Singapore-registered business users of OCBC’s Velocity@ocbc, which is their business Internet banking platform will be able to use their fingerprints to access their accounts.

The reason behind introducing a biometric feature to their business banking services stems from a surge of 30% in physical calls to bank where their business customers enquired on account balances and account activities, in the last three years. They believe that launching a Touch ID login will ease the process for business owners.

This fingerprint technology used by OCBC Bank, named OCBC One Touch, uses the Apple’s Touch ID technology. For Apple users, it is currently only available on iPhones that run on at least iOS 8 operating system. Once customers have completed a one-time activation, they will only need to place their finger on the home button of their phones, when they are within the app, in order to check on their account balances and activities. Android phone users will need to use a two-factor authentication to login, but only for those with Android 4.0 or later.

Multiple banks globally have already rolled out biometric authentication on mobiles for banking needs, such as RBS, NatWest, First Direct, HSBC in the UK, as well as Bank of America in the US. OCBC presents the first of such a technology for business customers in Singapore, which they believe will benefit over 120,000 clients.

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