In his opening speech at this year's Seedstars Singapore pitching event, Steve Leonard, Founding CEO of government-backed deep-tech focussed collaboration centre SGInnovate -- Seedstars Singapore's main partner -- urged startups not to be clones, derivatives, or extensions of other companies. He advocated, instead, the development of important, impactful, and technology-intensive tools -- solutions that are difficult to replicate and which are scalable. Today, the top winner of Seedstars Singapore, FinChat, certainly demonstrated some of the aforementioned qualities. The Singapore-based fintech startup is solving a very real and pressing problem in the financial industry. You see, bankers are discouraged -- and in some banks, barred -- from communicating information with clients over messaging apps such as WhatsApp or WeChat. Also Read: Singapore fintech startup StashAway raises US$2.15M to roll out robo-advisory platform The problem with these apps is that they are not compliant with financial institutions' regulations on data retention. In January this year, Deutsche Bank AG banned the use of WhatsApp because its text messages cannot be archived by the bank. Then there is the MiFID or the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive. This broad directive, established in the EU in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, established a set of regulations to help reduce systemic risks, increase the efficiency of financial markets and ensure better investor protection. Next year, the directive will be updated to MiFID II to strengthen these regulations. And that means banks have to ensure their tools and services have to be compliant with these new standards. This ensures all information is transparent to both the banks and clients. The deadline is 3 January 2018. So banks who wish to use messaging apps are going to want to make sure those are compliant -- pronto. This is where FinChat steps in. Its mobile compliance platform ensures that all business chats are captured and monitored while ensuring they are secure and safe from being leaked in the event the phone goes missing. Archiving the chat history also serves another purpose -- it makes the handover process smoother. Say a bank employee leaves the company, their replacement can easily take on the past employee's client accounts by reading up on their messaging history. FinChat claims its solution can scale quickly. According to its website, a proof of concept can be deployed within three days and scaled to production size within a month. So banks who need to be compliant before the MiFID II deadline still have time to do so. FinChat says major financial institutions across the globe have already expressed interest in its solution. But it needs the funding and support to roll it out at scale. By clinching the top prize at SeedStars Singapore, FinChat is one step closer its goal. Also Read: Thai travel startup PenguinT wins Spark Demo Day 2017, free trip to Israel Google Launchpad Here's what FinChat won: a free trip to the SeedStars Regional Summit and the SeedStars Global Summit. At the Global Summit in Switzerland, FinChat will be able to participate in a 3-day bootcamp with international mentors and investors and stand a chance to win US$500,000 in equity investments. While FinChat was the top winner, there were two runner-ups: Jumper.ai at 2nd place, and Pegaxis at third place. Jumper.ai is a conversational commerce company that helps drive sales through social media engagement. It facilitates a range of payment options from over 135 countries. Pegaxis is a B2B marketplace for property maintenance. The problem with the state of property maintenance market now is that there is a lack of transparency -- and as a result, corruption cases crop up from time to time. It is also labour intensive and inefficient. Pegaxis tackles this pain point by being a one-stop online procurement shop for property managers and contractors. It aims to automate procurement at an enterprise level.
FinChat, a tool that makes messaging apps compliant with banks, is top winner at Seedstars Singapore
The two other winners were Pegaxis and jumper.ai