The kind of social impact that startups around the world have created is massive. They not only make people’s lives easier and better, but also generate millions of employments in their respective markets and contribute to the economic growth. Some build companies with the single goal of profit, while some others have twin objectives of profit making and impact making.
Of all the industries, fintech is probably a vertical that has brought in massive changes to the lives of millions of people around the globe. The industry has played a vital role in democratising the banking industry and level the playing field. Fintech has forced banks to be innovative and competitive.
Since the beginning of the fintech revolution, hundred of products and solutions have been developed and deployed by different startups, targeting the underbanked, or those living on the bottom of the income pyramid.
Here we introduce to you five such startups, which are striving to create an impact through their innovative products in their respective markets in Southeast Asia.
Getting a loan from a bank is no mean task. If you approach a bank for a loan of any kind, the bank will ask you a lot of questions, check your creditworthiness and ask you to pledge a collateral. Getting a loan sanctioned by the bank may take weeks and even months.
Kredivo, a product of Indonesian startup FinAccel, aims to address this with its a digital payment solution. It provides different options of payment methods and terms to help customers break large payments into monthly, affordable, and safer payments. The startup gives users the convenience to buy now and pay later in 30 days with no interest or with 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month installments. Users need to put in basic details and their social networking account details to avail the loans provided by Kredivo.
The company uses data science in credit-scoring algorithms, combined with more traditional measures such as credit history and income, to determine creditworthiness, unlocking access to credit to a whole new set of consumers.
To date, Kredivo has raised more than US$30 million in funding, from investors including Telkomsel Mitra Inovasi (TMI), MDI Ventures, Jungle Ventures, Openspace Ventures, GMO Venture Partners, Alpha JWC Ventures, and 500 Startups.
MyCash Online (Singapore, Malaysia)
Being migrants themselves, Mehedi Hasan Sumon and Nurol Haq know the major challenges faced by the massive 40 million migrant population in Malaysia — one being the inability to access various financial services, as most of them are unbanked. The duo’s urge to solve this problem drove them to start MyCash Online, an online financial marketplace for the underbanked migrant population in Southeast Asia.
In 2014, the two met while working for a Value Added Service (VAS) company in Kuala Lumpur. Whenever they met, they would talk about the problems of migrant population in Malaysia, particularly those coming from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. They wanted to develop a simple and cheaper financial alternative for them. This led them to start MyCash Online.
Incorporated in 2015 and headquartered in Singapore, MyCash provides a tailor-made platform for the unbanked migrant population, where they can purchase products and services online without using any bank account, credit cards, or prepaid cards. Users can reload phone credit, pay bills, and buy bus tickets through MyCash.
Traditionally, gold savings has been classified as a financial product for the upper class, but here is an app to give everyone access to gold savings and to serve as a secondary platform for savings.
HelloGold is a mobile app that allows you to buy and sell gold on a single platform for as little as RM1. You can manage your account and enjoy competitive buying and selling prices in the market. Your physical gold is fully insured and stored in a secure vault.
Founded in 2015 by Malaysian co-founders Robin Lee and Ridwan Abdullah, it claims be the world’s first Shariah- compliant gold mobile application that “changes the way you buy, sell, send and redeem physical gold”. The company also runs a digital token called GOLDX, a ERC-20 token the startup has pegged to gold. What this does is allow people to make transactions outside of the platform. Without the crypto tokens, the app is a self-contained wallet.
Last year, the startup raised an undisclosed sum in Series A funding from 500 Startups.
Julo is a P2P lending startup that has developed a digital data-driven credit underwriting and risk assessment platform to process consumer loan applications and determine their creditworthiness through its mobile app. The app uses Machine Learning technology to provide tailor-made, low-interest instalment credit products to the unbanked population, most of whom are tech-savvy young people and micro-entrepreneurs currently locked out of the formal financial system.
With low overhead costs thanks to a purely digital architecture, Julo offers competitive interest rates to no-file or thin-file borrowers at 4 per cent per month.
Last year, Julo raised US$5 million in a Series A funding round, led by Skystar Capital and East Ventures. Gobi Partners, Convergence Ventures, Provident Capital, Central Capital Ventura, Heyokha Brothers, and other investors also participated in the round.
Headquartered in Singapore, soCash is a classic example of out-of-the-box thinking.
In developing countries in Asia, millions of people still deal with cash, in spite the massive growth of digital banking services. These people often rely on money-dispensing machines a.k.a ATMs to withdraw cash for their daily needs. In some countries in this part of the world, people often have to walk or drive kilometres in search of the nearest ATMs, which add inconvenience to their lives.
Now, from the banks’ point of view, setting up and maintaining ATMs is a money-draining affair. This often runs into millions of dollars and also affects their bottom-line. Three entrepreneurs have decided to address this challenge and came up with an innovative concept called soCash. Headquartered in Singapore, soCash is a fintech startup that allows bank customers to perform banking services like cash withdrawal and loan applications at retails shops via a mobile app.
A few days ago, it has raised US$6 million in its Series B round of funding led by Japan’s cash automation tech company Glory Ltd.