Charis Liau: Top 100 Fintech Southeast Asia Influencers 2019

Our Co-Founder and CEO, Charis Liau was named one of the Top 100 Fintech Southeast Asia Influencers 2019 by LATTICE80.

LATTICE80 is a global Fintech Hub and a community with more than 11,000 Fintech startups and 200,000 professionals in their database. They believe that the fastest way to grow is by collaborating and helping one another through partnerships.

In this list, LATTICE80 highlights the top 100 Fintech leaders in Southeast Asia who are actively involved in growing and developing the ecosystem here. This list of influencers was picked from in-house research and include startup founders, government and regulatory leaders, members of financial institutions, advocacy groups and investors.

Southeast Asia is a region that presents booming potential for Fintech right now. After all, the region has a population of more than 640 million people with around 50% of its population under 30 years old. Along with the robust macroeconomic growth the countries are experiencing, the young, digitally-savvy population will help to stimulate middle-class spending, in turn driving demand for financial services.

Due to the nature of the largely underbanked population, the development of this regional ecosystem can be observed in waves – firstly from a rise of payment services, to e-wallets, followed by lending, regtech, and insurtech.

While Singapore leads the way as a Fintech hub, other countries are also making much progress through regional collaborations.

The ASEAN Financial Innovation Network (AFIN), for instance, was launched by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in 2018 and aims to support financial services innovation and inclusion in less developed markets within the ASEAN region and to provide a platform for collaboration and innovation for financial institutions and Fintech startups. Also, the governments of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam have committed to work together on a cross-border fund transfer scheme, which is due to be rolled out this year.

Key Highlights from the Top 100 Fintech Southeast Asia Influencers 2019 list by LATTICE80

  • Of the 100 influencers, 42 are based in Singapore, 12 in Malaysia, 11 in Indonesia, 11 in Thailand, 10 in the Philippines, 6 in Myanmar, 6 in Vietnam, and 2 in Cambodia.

  • Also, 62 hold key positions in fintech startups, 25 facilitate innovation partnerships and transformations in corporates such as banks and insurance companies, 9 are enablers leading national fintech associations or accelerator programmes, and 4 are investors who focus their investments into fintech startups and projects.

Congratulations to all these regional Fintech leaders charting new territories for Fintech in SEA on this list!

This article was contributed by LATTICE80.

Minterest won Dun & Bradstreet Business Eminence Awards 2019

Minterest is honoured and humbled to be a recipient of the Dun & Bradstreet Business Eminence Awards 2019 which was held on 15 March 2019.

Background

The Business Eminence Awards is an initiative by Dun & Bradstreet Singapore to celebrate the nation’s vibrant tradition of entrepreneurship. It is also to recognize and showcase the achievements of Singapore companies that are the critical cogs in shaping the business landscape in Singapore over the past year.

business eminence awards 2019 certificate and tropy photo taking session with our awards

This award recognises our efforts in delivering relevant solutions to meet the financing needs of the small and medium enterprises (SME) community in Singapore, whilst offering diverse, well-structured investment opportunities to our platform investors using innovative technology to simplify the investment process.

enjoying our dinner at Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel

Firstly, thank you to all our members who have shown great support to the SME business which are the workhorses of the Singapore economy. We also would like to thank our SME clients for entrusting your financing needs to us as we share your vision in your business undertakings.

Thank you Dun & Bradstreet for this award. Last but not least, well done team Minterest Private Limited for making this possible.

We look forward to delivering more financial solutions to our community of investors, and serving the underserved and unbanked in the ASEAN region.

New consumer finance model using psychometric and social media in Singapore

An algorithm that reads your social media feed, gets a fix on your digital personality and analyses your
online interactions with friends and family may now be able to determine if you get a loan.

The Law Ministry selected six firms last month (including Minterest) to pilot new business models for moneylending while also temporarily lifting a 2012 moratorium on new licences needed to operate in the sector.

The idea of using personal data to forecast a person’s likelihood of default is being explored by some
licensed moneylending firms here in what is an industry first.

The Law Ministry selected six firms last month to pilot new business models for moneylending while also temporarily lifting a 2012 moratorium on new licences needed to operate in the sector.

Its moves come as personal loans are on the rise. Singaporeans accumulated nearly $60 billion of debt,
excluding housing, credit cards and car loans, in the third quarter of last year.

The key factor for moneylenders is the credit score, which is used to discern a person’s financial reliability based on his credit track record and income levels.

But determining risk of non-repayment, even with the already strong credit bureau that Singapore has, is not an exact science, say those participating in the trial.

Credit reports may not necessarily reflect a borrower’s immediate financial situation, such as when they
have lost a job recently, said our co-founder Ronnie Chia.

Psychometric analysis, which feeds on social media and other online data from borrowers, allows lenders to determine the character and personality traits of borrowers.

These are important indications of the willingness to repay loans, said Mr Chia.

Mr Jonathan Chong, IFS Capital’s vice-president of business planning and analysis, said lenders will be able to assess the borrower better and faster by considering these additional data points.

“With permission, we can overlay the digital footprint of a user, including social and professional
connections, with the personal and financial data to help us form a more holistic picture of the (borrower),” said Mr Chong.

A more positive credit score means a borrower will get a more favourable interest rate that reflects his risk profile, said Mr Chia.

But there are dangers in giving the computer full autonomy in deciding whether a person is likely to go into delinquency, given that the accuracy of AI-driven risk assessments is sometimes questionable.

United States-based non-profit organisation ProPublica found how risk scores produced by artificial
intelligence were unable to accurately tell if a defendant is likely to commit a future crime, even though
these scores are already used in US courtrooms to guide judges during sentencing.

Its 2016 study found that the algorithm, which was developed by a private company, was “remarkably
unreliable” – only one in five people flagged as likely to commit violent crime went on to do so.

It also found that the system unfairly pegged African-American defendants to be at a higher risk of
committing crime than white Americans.

And even when accurate, the use of credit scores to determine risk and reward can be controversial.

China’s newly deployed social credit system, for instance, has been decried as Orwellian by critics for
penalising everyday behaviour.

Chinese citizens have been barred from buying flight and train tickets or purchasing property in recent
months due to a low score from loan defaults or other activities deemed to be anti-social.

These dangers are why there is a need for the Law Ministry’s pilot, so that the personal lending industry
can find out what safeguards are necessary as it heads towards the adoption of AI and big data analytics,
said Mr Edmund Sim, founder of fintech start-up Credit Culture.

However, even detractors of AI cannot deny the superhuman efficiency of computer algorithms, big data
and machine learning employed in various industries today.

Humans can get it wrong even without AI, and they do so while incurring higher costs that will eventually show up on the borrower’s bill.

In a demonstration at his Craig Road office, Mr Sim showed The Straits Times how its credit scoring engine analyses and scores applicants for their creditworthiness almost instantly.

He declined to give specifics on the algorithms used as they are proprietary to the firm.

While accuracy is a concern, machine beats man on one key element – algorithms apply their standards
universally and eliminate any form of bias associated with human intervention, said Mr Sim.

“Technology can benefit consumers by making things simpler, cheaper and more transparent, allowing
them to make better informed decisions,” he noted.

“The question now is the extent to which technology can be used in personal lending.”

P2P Lending and Digital Lending Fintechs Active in Southeast Asia

The size of the Southeast Asian alternative financing market grew from US$46.65 million in 2015 to a whopping US$215.9 million the following year. That’s almost a fivefold leap in market value in just the span of a year, according to a study jointly conducted by the University of Cambridge and Monash University.

The United Nations estimates that Southeast Asians make up approximately 659 million of the world’s population at the time of writing—and among these numbers, a plethora of them come from regions that have traditionally been underbanked or underserved during the days before the word ‘fintech’ made any sense.

Without access to a bank account, and even if they do, a trackable credit record, these populations have been precluded from receiving loans from traditional financial institutions and thus, takes away a lot of opportunities for many of these populations to bring themselves to a higher economic standing.

P2P lending platforms have risen to address this specific problem, many able to offer smaller loans, and thus more lax terms. Digitisation or a good mobile layout also means that these platforms are able to penetrate more communities more quickly and with less upfront cost.

The rising stars of this industry will probably be coming from Indonesia, that has seen both massive demand, and a permissive regulator that deems P2P lending a viable strategy for helping its constituents rise out of poverty.

P2P Lending South East Asia -Digital Lending South East Asia - HiRes

 

Capital Match

capital-match-singapore-p2p-lending-south-east-asia

Capital Match, which was established in 2014, provides business and SME loans and invoice financing facilities of S$50,000 to S$200,000. The platform had funded S$62 million in loans, as of December 2017. Capital Match has raised S$1 million in funding so far from Innosight Ventures, Crystal Horse Investments and CE-Tech Invest.

Capital Springboard

capital-springboard-p2p-lending-south-east-asia

 

Capital Springboard is the latest venture by David Rawson-Mackenzie, who specialises in wealth and alternative financial strategies. David’s network of companies, the Centurion Group, offers a full suite of financial services for private and institutional investors. Capital Springboard is one of the the largest P2P invoice finance platforms with more than S$170 million worth of invoices transacted as of October 2017.

Coassets

coassets-p2p-lending-south-east-asia

CoAssets Pte Ltd is a Southeast Asian public listed crowdfunding site with offices in Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, China and Indonesia. CoAssets Pte Ltd brings real estate developers, businesses and investors together, with in excess of S$43 million worth of transactions taking place through the platform in the last two years. They have also launched Crowdfunders.Asia, a magazine that is dedicated to all things related to crowdfunding to benefit the crowdfunding community.

Crowdo

crowdo-p2p-lending-south-east-asia

Crowdo is a regional fintech company offering a full portfolio of alternative financing solutions across peer-to-business lending and securities / equity crowdfunding launched in 2013

Crowd Genie

crowdgenie-p2p-lending-south-east-asia

Crowd Genie is a platform where we match Small and Medium size companies who are looking to borrow funds with investors who are looking for better returns than what they get from the banks. Crowd Genie also launched their own token, CGCOIN.

FundedHere

funded-here-p2p-lending-south-east-asia

FundedHere is the first registered equity and lending-based crowdfunding platform for promising businesses in Asia, issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). FundedHere has built an ecosystem for both investors and businesses, leveraging on Singapore as a springboard for the rest of Asia. The platform connects promising tech startups in Southeast Asia and Greater China with professional and accredited investors. Launched in March 2015, FundedHere obtained its CMS license from MAS in 2016.

Funding Societies

funding societies-p2p-lending-south-east-asia

Funding Societies is a regional P2P lending player operating in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. The company was founded by Kelvin Teo and Reynold Wijaya who were both Harvard graduates. Funding Societies operates in Indonesia under the name Modalku.

Minterest

minterest-p2p-lending-south-east-asia

Recognised as Asia’s Top 25 Fintech Company by APAC CIO Outlook, Minterest intends to use a broad spectrum of innovative technologies and our team’s financial expertise to overcome existing real world financial shortcomings.

MoolahSense

MoolahSense-p2p-lending-south-east-asia

Founded in 2013, MoolahSense is a Singaporean P2P lending platform connecting local SMEs with investors. MoolahSense is backed by East Ventures and Pix Vine Capital and signed a partnership with DBS Bank to refer successful borrowers to the bank for larger loans and other traditional banking services. Funding Societies is the first Singaporean peer-to-peer lending company to incorporate a trustee registered with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

Validus

validus-p2p-lending-south-east-asia

Backed by Temasek Holdings’ Vertex Ventures, Validus is a P2P online financing marketplace designed to help bridge the cash flow gap small and medium businesses face. The platform allows Validus to provide better financing solutions to the underserved SMEs in Singapore.

 

The above platforms stated are all based in Singapore. To learn about P2P lending platforms based in other countries, read the original article by Fintech Singapore

Minterest selected as one of the six firms issued with moneylending licences with business models that better protect borrowers

If someone cut into your queue at the cashier in a supermarket, what would you do?

 

Answers to psychometric questions like this will help moneylender Minterest predict a borrower’s behaviour, assess the risk in offering them a loan without collateral – and maybe even slash their interest rate by half.

The firm is one of six which will be issued new moneylending licences next year to pilot their own unique business models, the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) announced on Tuesday (Dec 11).

It is the first time in six years that MinLaw is issuing new moneylending licences since a moratorium was imposed in 2012.

The one-time lifting of the moratorium is part of an initiative to better protect borrowers through business-led improvements. The new models include more comprehensive use of data to assess creditworthiness, using digitalised processes to lower cost and giving better terms to those who repay their loans early or on time, MinLaw said.

The other firms to be issued licences are Credit 21, Dey and Quick Credit which can operate up to four outlets each. IFS Capital, Xingang Investment and Minterest will be allowed to operate one outlet each.

All six firms have paid-up capital of at least $1 million and demonstrated a track record in providing consumer credit, whether in licensed moneylending or in other sectors of consumer credit, said MinLaw.

Under the Moneylenders Act, licensed moneylenders have to cap their monthly interest rate at 4 per cent.

Mr Ronnie Chia, our very own co-founder and chief operating officer, said that Minterest will be asking psychometric questions to gauge creditworthiness as part of its business model.

Borrowers who obtain a good credit score could see their interest rate cut by half.

“We do not want to be the traditional moneylender where people go to as a last resort,” he said. “We want to be a true alternative to financial institutions. Using technology and data to assess credit risk, we want to create dynamic pricing and pricing that is applicable to the individual.”

With mobile applications changing the face of moneylending, they could provide a ” safe, secure and seamless experience” where people key in minimal information like their names and NRIC numbers and firms access their data through a government site like MyInfo, Mr Chia said.

Borrowers could log in to the mobile app using their Facebook accounts to find out how much they can borrow and the rate of interest.

“If they don’t like our rate, they don’t have to make the trip to our office,” added Mr Chia. “This gives borrowers the freedom and ease to shop around for rates.”

MinLaw said there are currently 162 moneylending outlets in Singapore. The new licensees will be allowed to operate for up to two years from next year, after which MinLaw will evaluate the results of the pilot and consider options for refining the moneylending regulatory regime.

 

This article was contributed by The Business Times.

Minterest selected as one of the six firms issued with moneylending licences with business models that better protect borrowers

If someone cut into your queue at the cashier in a supermarket, what would you do?

 

Answers to psychometric questions like this will help moneylender Minterest predict a borrower’s behaviour, assess the risk in offering them a loan without collateral – and maybe even slash their interest rate by half.

The firm is one of six which will be issued new moneylending licences next year to pilot their own unique business models, the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) announced on Tuesday (Dec 11).

It is the first time in six years that MinLaw is issuing new moneylending licences since a moratorium was imposed in 2012.

The one-time lifting of the moratorium is part of an initiative to better protect borrowers through business-led improvements. The new models include more comprehensive use of data to assess creditworthiness, using digitalised processes to lower cost and giving better terms to those who repay their loans early or on time, MinLaw said.

The other firms to be issued licences are Credit 21, Dey and Quick Credit which can operate up to four outlets each. IFS Capital, Xingang Investment and Minterest will be allowed to operate one outlet each.

All six firms have paid-up capital of at least $1 million and demonstrated a track record in providing consumer credit, whether in licensed moneylending or in other sectors of consumer credit, said MinLaw.

Under the Moneylenders Act, licensed moneylenders have to cap their monthly interest rate at 4 per cent.

Mr Ronnie Chia, our very own co-founder and chief operating officer, said that Minterest will be asking psychometric questions to gauge creditworthiness as part of its business model.

Borrowers who obtain a good credit score could see their interest rate cut by half.

“We do not want to be the traditional moneylender where people go to as a last resort,” he said. “We want to be a true alternative to financial institutions. Using technology and data to assess credit risk, we want to create dynamic pricing and pricing that is applicable to the individual.”

With mobile applications changing the face of moneylending, they could provide a ” safe, secure and seamless experience” where people key in minimal information like their names and NRIC numbers and firms access their data through a government site like MyInfo, Mr Chia said.

Borrowers could log in to the mobile app using their Facebook accounts to find out how much they can borrow and the rate of interest.

“If they don’t like our rate, they don’t have to make the trip to our office,” added Mr Chia. “This gives borrowers the freedom and ease to shop around for rates.”

MinLaw said there are currently 162 moneylending outlets in Singapore. The new licensees will be allowed to operate for up to two years from next year, after which MinLaw will evaluate the results of the pilot and consider options for refining the moneylending regulatory regime.

 

This article was contributed by The Straits Times.

“In Singapore, the fintech revolution has just begun”

Our very own co-Founder and CEO: Charis Liau shared her thoughts on Fintech in Singapore with The Worldfolio.

 

ASEAN, with a population of over 630 million people, is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. There are still a lot of challenges facing the region. What, in your opinion, is technology and particularly FinTech essential in the development of the region?

The ASEAN market is the world’s 3rd largest market after China and India. 70% of the ASEAN population is less than 40 years old and with the massive emergence of the digitally active middle-class population, the internet economy is expected to grow to USD 200 billion by 2025. By 2020, it is expected that there will be more than 480 million internet users. However, 70% of this population is unbanked.

Technology, in particularly Fintech, is able to lower costs significantly and digital finance can accelerate access to financial services for the unbanked in ASEAN. Having access to basic banking services (payments, remittances, insurance etc.) and even financing (through marketplace lending platforms) can boost the GDP of economies and bring profound changes and improvement to the lives of the people living in this region.

In Singapore, the fintech revolution has just begun. With the strong support of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”) and Enterprise Singapore, we are creating a smart financial eco-system comprising of borrowers, lenders, and insurance partners, institutional providers of liquidity to bring about a more vibrant, sustainable community to serve the needs of the underserved and unbanked companies. SMEs in Singapore contribute about 45% of the GDP and employ 69% of the population but 40% of them remains underbanked and underserved. Using our proprietary credit scoring model with over 200 data points of each borrower, we are able to curate a strong portfolio of credit-worthy borrowers who would traditionally be underserved or unserved by the traditional credit providers.

As a leading fintech company, our objective is to automate as much processes as we possibly can. The founding management team comprises of very experienced former investment and corporate bankers with over 155 years of banking and finance experience. We developed our own proprietary credit scoring algorithm, “Mintgrade” taking into account data from a wide variety of sources including banks, financials, third party contracts, Singapore credit bureau as well as third party credit checks from Experian and Dun & Bradstreet. The Mintgrade is a useful measure of the underlying risk profile of each transaction and provides our investors with a quick overview of the risk of the deal in their decisioning process. We are also breaking new ground by introducing psychographic tests which will add a new dimension to our credit assessment. The psychographic test enables us to determine the “willingness” of the borrower and/or the promoters in repaying a debt.

 

This article was contributed by The Worldfolio.

Charis Liau: An Ace Entrepreneur in the Financial Services Space

Our CEO was named 1 of The 30 Most Influential Entrepreneurs to Watch 2018. Our co-founder and CEO, Charis Liau, considers herself as an accidental entrepreneur as starting a business, let alone in the finance space, was never on the radar when she started her career. However, her experience during her final days in banking made her realize that in order to truly be effective in assisting businesses that form the backbone of a country’s economy, she had to forge a different path.

Charis believes that she has been blessed to have a couple of former banking colleagues who shared in her vision, and together they started Minterest in 2016 with a bold ambition of building a new financial eco-system in Singapore and into the neighboring countries.

A Financial Bridge

Minterest operates an online marketplace funding platform that connects borrowers with investors. Its mission is to empower investors and businesses and deliver on their financial goals through customized solutions and financial technology. The company aims to create a sustainable community in which investors and businesses mutually benefit by collaborating and leveraging innovations in financial technology.

As a leading marketplace funding platform, Minterest utilizes a broad spectrum of innovative technologies and its team’s financial expertise to overcome existing real-world financial shortcomings. Minterest believes in bringing financial inclusion to the unbanked and underserved needs of businesses. As experienced former bankers, Charis and her team utilises its strong financial background in understanding credit, structuring, legal and compliance matters to assist each borrower in their funding journey, turbocharging their business to bring their future to the present.

Entrepreneurial Attributes 101

Charis believes that to be successful, an entrepreneur must possess different attributes as the requirements of running a successful business are multi-faceted:

  • One must have the confidence to believe that the business will succeed.
  • One must have a relentless focus on the things needed to make the business work.
  • One has to have an open-mind and see every event or situation as a business opportunity.
  • One must believe that one’s business is better than the competitors
  • One must live and breathe the business and must continue to find ways to make the business better in delighting its customers.

Disrupting the Financial Services Industry

Charis started this business because of the belief that she can use her banking and financial experience to assist the hard workers of the economy to meet their financial goals. SMEs contribute to 45% of the economy and employ 69% of the working population in Singapore.   Minterest is not just about serving the financing needs of business but also having a positive and social impact. By assisting small businesses to be successful, Minterest is indirectly helping to provide and create employment for the workforce and by extension, improving each person’s personal economy. Charis takes pride in able to procure financing for entrepreneurs where they can turbocharge their businesses, bringing their future to the present. Being able to make a positive difference to them spurs her on in this business.

Leading By Automation

Charis believes, “Competition is good as it pushes us to be better in serving our borrowers and investors.”  Her team constantly reviews their processes and how they can deliver well-structured, risk-mitigated investment solutions to their investors. The workflow that processes loan applications is developed in-house – this means that 80% of its credit assessment process is automated allowing it to deliver results of loan applications quickly and bring scale to its own business.

The organization also has a proprietary credit scoring algorithm, “MintGrade”, developed in-house. The MintGrade collects over 200 data points per loan and assigns a rating to each loan offering, giving investors a quick overview of the underlying risk profile of the loan investment when the investors embark on their decision making process.

Minterest is also breaking new grounds by introducing psychographic tests which will add a new dimension to its credit assessment. “The psychographic tests enables us to determine the “willingness” of the borrower and/or the promoters in repaying a debt,” adds Charis.

Overcoming Barriers

The biggest challenge for Charis was to make Minterest known in the market. And what made it difficult was finding and hiring talent with the right attitude who shares the vision and mission of the business. However, with persistence and a sheer grit, Charis and her team has overcome such initial challenges. She states, “Running a business is never smooth sailing and there will always be challenges but overcoming them makes the business stronger everyday as we seek to deliver on our mission.

A Strategic Expansion

Charis has plans to expand the Minterest business into the neighboring ASEAN countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Philippines in the next couple of years. ASEAN is the world’s 3rd largest market after China and India with a population of over 640 million. According to her, with the emergence of the middle class and the massive rise of consumerism and a digitally active population, the internet economy is expected to grow to USD200 billion by 2025, with more than 480 million internet users by 2020. However, 73% (438 million) of the ASEAN population are unbanked. A huge market opportunity exists for platform lenders to serve the needs of the unbanked population and she believes that she plays a key part in this movement to address their needs.

Imparting Words of Wisdom

Charis shares her wisdom received through first hand industry experiences with the emerging entrepreneurs. She asserts, “My advice is to have a crystal clear idea of what you want to do and achieve. Find an area of expertise that you are good at, passionate about and focus on it.”

“The execution process may change as you tweak your business model but it is the vision and mission that will guide you to where you want to go. Rome was not built in a day, so do plan wisely and seek out resources early. And have the perseverance to keep going even when it is tough,” she adds.

 

This article was contributed by Insights Success.

Best Peer-to-Peer Lending Platform 2018

We are delighted to announce that Minterest is awarded the Best Peer-to-Peer Lending Platform 2018 – Singapore by the Global Business Insights Awards 2018.

The Global Business Insight Awards celebrate business leadership, innovation in finance and investment and sector success across all seven continents of the world.

 

Making Connections: SME Interview Series – Minterest

Founded in 2016 by three experienced finance professionals, we, Minterest, seek to empower small businesses by connecting them with individual investors through marketplace lending platform. Till date, we have raised more than S$32 million in small business loans. To find out more about our success and future plans, ValueChampion interviewed our Co-Founder and CEO Charis Liau.

When did Minterest begin its operations?

Minterest was incorporated in March 2016 and commenced operations in May 2017 after securing its Capital Markets Services (CMS) Licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in January 2017. Since May 2017, Minterest has assisted businesses in Singapore that were underserved by the conventional financial institutions by disbursing more than S$32 million in loans over almost 90 different transactions.

When and how did Minterest first obtain funding? How long did it take to raise funding?

Minterest was initially funded by the founders and prior to commencing operations, we secured seed funding from friends and family. This took place over a week which was relatively quick.

What was the biggest challenge that Minterest had to overcome to raise capital? What strategy, tactic or know-how was the most helpful in convincing investors to invest in the company?

The biggest challenge at that time was that we just had a concept with no operating history to prove that the business can be successful. But once we shared our vision, mission and how we plan to execute them, the investors were convinced. The fact that the founders and senior management team have significant banking and financial experience (125 years in total) provided another layer of comfort to the investors that we know what we were talking about.

After its initial funding, did Minterest ever require additional financing? Why?

We have not had to raise additional funding so far but the time has come for us to do so. As we move into the second half of our second year in operations, additional resources would be required for further technology build-out, marketing and other operational matters as we seek to scale our business and expand to the region. We now have a viable business model and having proven the business concept, it is now time to move into the next stage of our business evolution.

What type of financing did Minterest obtain? Which sources did Minterest consider? How was this helpful for your business?

Minterest has only raised equity so far and will be looking to do the same in our next round of financing. For the new round of financing, we will be looking at VCs and a couple of investors who have supported us during our growing period over the last 18 months. The equity that was raised was important for the business as it provided financing for operations as well as the necessary capital base that is required by the MAS.

How does Minterest help businesses better manage their finances?

We bring the big corporate fundraising experience to small businesses given our deep and broad banking and financial experience. Our borrowers’ journey includes a reasonably in-depth analysis of future cash flows. Not only does this exercise assist in our credit assessment of the borrower’s ability to repay the loan, it also helps the borrower’s management to better understand how their expected cash position would be like in the future. Some of our borrowers have continued to use this tool to measure how well their forecasting is when matched against actual numbers.

How does Minterest distinguish itself from Singapore’s other crowdfunding platforms?

Minterest distinguishes itself from others through the following “3P”s:

  • People

Former bankers with a combined 155 years’ of experience who understand credit, structuring and security mechanisms. Platform investors invest with the knowledge that every deal is properly assessed and put through our proprietary Mintgrade credit scoring algorithm.

  • Products

A wide range of products across all risk spectrum to feed the appetite of platform investors, allowing them to diversify their portfolio. Products are divided into four broad categories – Small Loans, Invoice Financing, Structured Loans and Convertible Loans. The diversity of products generally leads to stickiness amongst the platform investors.

  • Processes

A set of transparent and clear processes to analyse and assess loan applications. The automated workflow that was developed in-house allows the team to quickly assess and process deals – this applies to all product categories. We have also developed a credit scoring engine that assign a rating to every loan application. The rating system is much appreciated by our investors as it provides a quick snapshot of the risk profile of the loans that are listed on the platform.

What advice would you offer to other startups in Singapore who are looking for ways to finance their businesses and operations?

It is important that start-ups have a clear vision and mission and how they are going to execute on them. Without identifiable cash flow sources, it will be very difficult for such companies to raise financing especially in the debt space. There could be a possibility to raise equity financing but investors need to be convinced that the people and business model are right and can be differentiated against competitors.

Did Minterest consider any other locations besides Singapore as its headquarters? Why/why not?

Singapore as Minterest’s headquarters is a natural choice. The founders are based in Singapore and it is also a major financial centre and fintech hub in the region. The regulatory regime is forward looking and is conducive for a business like ours to grow and flourish. With high regulatory standards ensuring our processes are of the highest standards, we will then bring these standards to other countries as we seek to provide our services to the unserved and underserved businesses in the region.

What makes Minterest’s work most challenging? Rewarding?

The most challenging aspect is in the deal selection process. We see hundreds of loan applications each month and whilst many have interesting ideas and products, it is important not to lose sight of the most important criteria for loan approvals – cashflows. We have developed our proprietary screening model taking into account over 200 data points to assess each deal. Structuring of repayment sources is critical in our opinion as we need to ensure that the loans can be repaid on time to our investors.

The most rewarding part is when we disburse a loan to a small business knowing that the proceeds will be used to turbo-charge the borrowers’ business, allowing them to continue to provide employment to the Singapore workforce and contribute positively to the country’s economy.

 

This article was contributed by ValueChampion.