Why wait for Thursday night to find out who wins the four Fintech Awards 2017?

I took a look at the 40 finalists, put ourselves in the shoes of the 59 jury members and tried to make an accurate prediction of the winners! And why not join me in the game: write your prediction in the comments!

Full disclosure: 25 per cent of the jury members are personal or professional relations but none have shared any information with me on this topic.

For context here are the published criteria: Impact, Practicality, Interoperability, Uniqueness and Creativity.

With 20 representatives of Financial Services (mostly C-level) in the jury, I’ll tell you that what matters to them is the feasibility, and if it’s really solving a true problem. There are also 22 venture capitalists in the jury, so for them, the focus will be first on the team’s background.

No surprise, it’s also my preferred angle, headhunter that I am.

Global Category

WINNER: VoxSmart

Voxsmart’s product protects organisations and their employees from fraud and liability risks by recording and storing mobile voice and data (WeChat/Whatsapp) relating to financial transactions.

Oliver, the CEO, qualified his business as a “reboot”. He recapitalized a company and invested in product and talent. Looking at the profiles of the CTO, COO and CFO: it’s all very, very solid.

They offer an immediate solution to a broad existing need. The team is rock solid and the product works. Current customers include Royal Bank of Canada and Engie Global Markets. They have also won awards like the HFM European Technology Award 2017.

Singaporean Founder Category


Fomo Pay is a QRCode Payment Solution which enables merchants to accept a full-suite of new payment methods including WeChat Pay, Alipay, NETSPay, and mVISA.

The co-founders, Liu Xi Louis and Zack Yang are great examples of young Singaporeans who have built something solid, out of the blue, with no relevant prior experience. They also have a serious awards resume, winning the Best Fintech Company Seamless Asia 2017, Next Money Fintech Finalist 2017 and Top 100 for Red Herring. They also won the Echelon TOP 100 in 2016. They are part of MAS’s SGQR taskforce to promote QR code payments and make Singapore a cashless society.

The team is at the right place and time, with the right mindset and ability to execute. That’s why they win.

Singapore SME Category

WINNER: Kristal.ai

Kristal.ai uses machine learning-based algorithms to gauge user profiles and match them with appropriate investments. The objective is to deliver an intelligent online advisory to every client irrespective of the amount being invested.

The 3 co-founders, Asheesh Chanda, Vivek Mohindra and Vineeth Narasimhan all have strong business backgrounds (JP Morgan, Natixis, IBM) and relevant experience in their fields. They are in the fintech sandbox in Singapore and are licensed in Hong Kong and India.

I’ve chosen this one based on intuition since most finalists in this group will either turn off VCs or the Financial Services jury.

Singapore Open Category

WINNER: Silent Eight

Silent Eight reduces the volume of false positive alerts in the AML transaction monitoring process.

One of the founder’s profile: Martin Markiewicz, reads like poetry. A hands-on developer turned sales director of a company in growth mode, which then went public. He then founded what became the biggest Polish hydropower plant developer, which he successfully took public on the Warsaw stock exchange.

Pity that the word count doesn’t allow me to tell you about the other great co-founder profiles: Julia Markiewicz and Michael Wilkowski, but I would seriously suggest looking them up. 

They win with a product that delivers a clear B2B solution to a clear problem and a very solid team.

About the author: Eduardo de Barros is the founder of Neofelis.io – a boutique executive search firm that helps founders grow their businesses. Previously, he set up the Fintech practice at one of the world’s top executive search firm, where he specialized in CIO/CDO/CTO roles. A 5th-time entrepreneur, he started at 17 as chief editor of a technology magazine in Europe.

If you’re a startup founder or a corporate executive planning your 2018 leadership hires, let’s talk.