It is the journey and not the destination

Since I was young, I have always been passionate about classic sports cars.  I was particularly drawn by the simplicity of its design and its singular purpose, that is, to give its driver the pure driving experience!

A few years back, when the opportunity knocked on my door to acquire a 1983 German marquee, I did not hesitate and with the acquisition, I ticked one big item off my bucket list and kick started my midlife crisis too (according to my dear wife)!

Quickly, I learnt that there was more to it than just driving my old timer around and just looking cool (and with my back perspiring).  You need to know the “ins and outs of these cars, otherwise you will become your mechanic’s ATM! I started to observe my “seniors” and noticed that they have an instinct of sensing something is not right with their cars by just listening to the clanking of the engine and smelling the un-burnt fuel coming out of the exhaust!  I knew I had to roll up my sleeves and learn to troubleshoot and maintain my car.  Whilst it was a steep learning curve, it was also a natural process for me as I am very passionate about the journey through my pursuits.

One other thing that I am very passionate about is assisting companies in all aspects of their corporate borrowings (syndicated loans, debt restructuring, project financing, loans portfolio management, distress debt trading, leverage buy outs, structured export finance).  Unlike my classic car pursuits, I have been doing this for 20 odd years with several international investment banks.  So I dare that I am a “debt junkie” in a positive sense!

I can see some similarities in my journey in pursuit of classic cars and helping companies seek financing.  Let me offer two propositions from my vantage point.

Firstly, like classic cars, no two companies are the same and they will tend to also have its own identity, uniqueness and quirkiness.  Hence, you need to get into the details in order to understand each and every one of them.  You need to understand how its “engine and chassis” should be working together (one cannot assume they are) in order to propel them forward and keep them planted on the ground and not hit the kerbside.  The “one solution fits all” is not always the case when it comes to corporate debt financing.  Also, if one cuts corners in the evaluation process, the diagnosis will not be correct and even if the car or the company does not “breakdown” in the near term, it will not be able to live up to its maximum potential.  As we say in the classic car circle, “Good from far, far from good!”

Secondly, we need to be in a “community of collaborators” where we can tap on each other’s knowledge and strength.  Whilst I hang out at “Cars & Coffee” to meet the “seniors” on weekends, I would do exactly the same when I am in the office on weekdays with my two other business partners.  Each of my business partner brings a different experience and value proposition to the table.  I consult them every opportunity that I get to ensure that our clients’ interests are first served.

At Minterest, we come form the standpoint that each and every one of our clients are unique.  The funding solutions that we give them may be simple and yet bespoke.  We will take time to understand the needs of our clients through a robust due diligence process. We may have the wealth of experience behind us that gives us the instinct.  However, we will not be too quick to judge and to offer financing solutions until we fully understood their real needs.  Whilst getting the funding is the final destination, we are most interested in the journey.  Like the sheer experience of driving my old timer down a windy road in the wee hours of the morning, I want to give the same experience and smile on my client’s face at the end of his journey with Minterest. It is the journey and not the destination.

For more information about peer to business lending or if you just want to ask anything under the sun, please send me an email to [email protected] or visit us at https://www.minterest.sg.

Crowdfunding: Your questions answered

“Tua Pek, what do you do for a living?” my 7-year old niece asked me during our family’s Chinese New Year holidays in Vietnam recently.  I murmured something along the lines of helping companies borrow money.

“But how?” she followed up. Kids!!! They and their “why” and “how” questions.  But as the weeks and months rolled by, I continued to give her questions more thought and how I can answer all these follow-on questions in the simplest manner.

Most of us would have experience “crowdfunding” in some form or other in our lives – mainly when we were younger. I recall the times when I went around my neighbourhood during my student days canvassing for donations for causes such as a school project or for the Blind Centre.  It was hard work, walking tens of miles and knocking on doors. Little did I know then but it was “crowdfunding” at its very basic level.  These days, crowdfunding is “in” because of technology where on the click of a button allows one to communicate with lots and lots of people.  It has made sourcing money from the public, aka the crowd, much easier.  As they say, money makes the world go round and the power of harnessing the crowd to come together to finance something that each one of them believes is a powerful driving force.

Crowdfunding, as we know it today, is a very general term that is used to refer to initiatives that involve the raising of money from the crowd.  For example, it could be in the form of donations for a charity or for a good cause to help someone or a group of people in need at that particular point in time.  Or it could be to raise financing to develop a product.  Or to sell shares in one’s company to raise capital. Or to borrow money to fuel one’s business growth.

If you search online, one of the main definitions of crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the internet.  The internet has made the world a much smaller place and hence, it is the simplest way of sourcing money from the public.

Crowdfunding started entering the consciousness of the Singapore public over the last couple of years.  This is especially so in the loan or equity crowdfunding space.  Since June 2016, anyone who allow companies to source financing from the public on their platform has to be licenced by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”).  This is a good development as certain safeguards have been put in place to protect the investors as well as borrowers.  For example, the people that operate the platform has to be considered fit and proper by the MAS and that investors are informed of the risks and pitfalls of investing through such a channel.

When investing through a peer to business lending platform, for instance, you should take into account how the loans have been analysed, what factors may negatively impact the cash flow of the business and the capability of the borrowers’ management.  But before all these questions, the first question you should ask yourself is “who are behind the platform, how and what they have done to get themselves comfortable with the loans that are posted on their platform?”  As investors, we need to turn back the clock and be a kid again asking the simple questions of “why”, “how” and “what”.  Is investing through such channels risky?  It can be, but not necessarily so if you ask the right questions and diversify your investment portfolio.

At Minterest, we always ask ourselves this question after analysing various aspects of our borrowers’ business – “would we put our own money into this loan?”  If the answer is yes, the loan will be posted on the Minterest platform for our investors to invest in.  We believe in building relationships with our borrowers and investors that last so that both can meet their long term financial goals – that is why we are careful (or is it “choosy”?) on what loans can be posted on the Minterest platform.

I hope now you have a slightly better understanding of what crowdfunding is.  Investing through such a channel need not necessarily be risky if we become like a kid again asking the “right” questions and remember to apply the diversification strategy.

Till the next time, may your investment journey be a profitable one!

For more information about peer to business lending or if you just want to ask anything under the sun, please send me an email to [email protected] or visit us at https://www.minterest.sg

Welcome to Minterest – Our CEO’s Journey

A very warm welcome to Minterest and thank you for visiting our website. I am Charis Liau, Co-Founder and CEO of Minterest. It’s an honour to share my first blog post with readers, and I hope to share my personal journey and experience with you, as we embark on possibly the most exciting evolution of our generation, Web 3.0.

How it all started

I was nursing my 6 month old baby when the idea of P2B (Peer-to-Business) lending dropped into my head in September 2015. Having gone through a difficult childbirth, the experience left a profound gratefulness for the precious gift of life. Holding my precious boy in my arms, I often wonder about the possibilities, dreams and hopes that lie ahead for his future.

I thought of my many years of banking experience serving large corporates and institutions across Asia, providing them with working capital loans, long term real- estate financing and cross border structured asset solutions.

A major trend that I’ve noticed is that since the global financial crisis in 2008, there had been a gradual but definite systemic shift – SMEs are facing difficulties in raising funds from traditional finance providers.

Having to adhere to stricter lending criteria, higher cost metrics and added regulatory and compliance requirements, banks had been forced to cut back from their role as the traditional provider of credit to these companies. The resultant difficulty in securing credit has had a dampening effect on global economic growth.

At around the same time, I was helping a local small business raise funds for its business. This company was looking to raise USD 5million. It had a business plan, strong financial projections and a promising future. However, not many people knew about it, and the company was unable to secure bank financing due to a lack of historical financial credit history.

Building tomorrow’s financial eco-system –  one that serves rather than rules.

Together with Ronnie (Minterest’s co-founder), we established Minterest in March 2016 with the bold ambition to build a new financial eco-system in Singapore. As former bankers with deep experience in corporate and structured finance, our aim is to empower businesses and investors to enable them to reach their financial goals. This was confirmed by a study by VISA and Deloitte highlighting that 40% of Singapore SMEs have no access to bank loan financing. It is alarming as these SMEs contribute 47% to Singapore’s GDP and employ 70% of our Singapore workforce.

3 Simple Minterest Difference

We set ourselves apart from other financing solution providers through our three key differentiators :-

  1. For the Borrowers – we bring our banking experience and structuring capabilities honed over the years serving large corporates to the small & medium enterprises, “turbo-charging” their businesses so as to accelerate their future to the present. We understand that no two businesses are alike and we offer customised solutions to every borrower.

  2. For the Investors – we deliver to them a broad range of diversified loans which has been vetted through our due diligence process. We do not post every loan that comes our way. We question the use of funds, and more importantly, the source of repayment for every loan. Where required, we will take additional security (e.g. pledge over assets, assignment of cash flows, credit insurance etc.) to further enhance the security of the deal. I believe we are the first in Singapore to offer this.

  3. To our other stakeholders – Minterest is built on a foundation of integrity and good governance. Duty of care to our stakeholders is at the centre of what we do at Minterest. Our values drive proper risk management that influences every aspect of our businesses. Being regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, we are subject to robust business governance, and compliance in ensuring that we deal fairly with our customers.

What does our future look like

Someone recently said to me, “For the first time in history, we do not know how banking will look like in 10 years’ time”. And I agree. Looking at my boy (who recently turned 2 years in March 2017), I can’t help but wonder in what shape or form banking will evolve into when he grows up. Will he still need to walk into a branch to open a bank account, fill up lengthy application forms to apply for a credit card, invest only in public listed shares and bonds, or will all these be disintermediated through smart innovations that bring seamless, convenient, on-demand banking and investment experience wherever and whenever he needs them.

As for me, I’m thrilled and extremely excited to be a part of his future, building a new financial eco-system that will hopefully, one day, serve his generation effectively in time to come.

For more information about peer to business lending or if you just want to ask anything under the sun, please send me an email to [email protected] or visit us at https://www.minterest.sg.

What is P2P lending and borrowing: All you want to know about Digital marketplace for loans

Peer-2-Peer platforms offer access to first-time loan applicants, small business owners or SME employees to get credit on easy terms when required.

In layman’s terms, Peer-2-Peer (P2P) lending and borrowing is like a digital marketplace for loans. Hence usually it is known as ‘marketplace lending’ or often gets confused with crowd-funding. Instead of applying for a loan with a bank, NBFC, private finance company or any other loan institution, you can request a loan from regular people like you and me (therefore, the term Peer-2-Peer).

Most of these loans are unsecured for a large number of people who are underbanked or thinly banked. Most of the financial institutions stay away from giving loans to first-time loan applicants, small business owners or SME employees, women or people living in negative pin-code areas. Peer-2-Peer platforms offer access to these very groups of people to get credit on easy terms when required.

The actual logistics of Peer-to-Peer can be a little more complicated in India, but some platfoms like ours allow the borrower to download the app, fill the application form and apply for the loan. As a borrower, you have to fill a quick online registration form and pay the upfront registration fee which is refundable. Then proprietary credit assessment is done and a brief commentary of why you want a loan is shared with the lenders. The app requires the loan applicant to submit bank statement, upload basic KYC documents like PAN card, Aadhaar card etc. The proprietary algorithm assigns the loan interest rate and tenure to post the loan on the marketplace for lenders to assess and invest.

Lenders on the Peer-2-Peer marketplace are able to browse loan requests of multiple applicants. Each loan request offers relevant information about the borrower to the lender such as income, credit history, reasons for loan etc. If the lender likes the loan applicant’s profile then they can fund a certain portion of the loan. Partial funding enables lenders to diversify their investments and hedge potential risks. Once the transaction is completed, the loan applicant repays the loan in the form of equated monthly installments or popularly known as EMIs.

Is Peer-2-Peer Loan for You?

P2P lending and borrowing is not for everyone. Like any other financial investments, it has its risks and payoffs.

A major benefit of taking a Peer-2-Peer loan in India is that it is paperless, transparent and fast. The rate of interest is traditionally lower than NBFCs or other finance companies. The application process is faster and convenient with minimal documentation. Platforms like this perform a soft credit check and allow the borrowers to explain the reasons that led to a bad credit in the past. As long as lenders show confidence in the borrowers’ ability and intention to repay the loan, the borrower will get the loan. These loans are given without collateral based upon the creditworthiness of the borrower alone. However, the borrowers cannot expect a guaranteed funding. They can attract penalties if the EMI repayments are late and attract huge payments in case of a default.

Lenders on the Peer-2-Peer platform in the past few years have seen an average return between 12% and 18% annually. Also, it is a form of passive investment tool that offers great returns against the cash parked in savings accounts. By allowing lenders to invest in loans across a broad range of loan applicants for small amounts of fund, Peer-2-Peer investments offer an in-built mechanism to diversify.

 

This article was written by Priyanka Singh.

Our CEO was selected as a leading female tech founder in Singapore

With close to 400 FinTech and InsurTech startups in Singapore, the country has become a brew pot for innovation. Spearheading this wave of innovation are some very inspirational women. In this article from Let’s Talk Payments, our very own CEO and co-founder Charis Liau was selected as one of Singapore’s female leaders who are leading promising tech startups or are helping in promoting the ecosystem. This list was curated by Let’s Talk Payments, Varun Mittal, and inputs from the local ecosystem.

Below is the full list.

Adelina Peltea

Company: Argomi

Focus Area: Capital Markets/Investments Platform

Designation/Role at Company: COO

About ArgomiArgomi is a brand of AMaaS. It offers an integrated investment management platform for institutional asset and fund managers. It provides asset management solutions like listing, searching and aggregating positions by different categories like book/trader/asset class or fund, automatically calculating positions in the market and notification about upcoming investment activities. It also enables clients to record and reconcile their trades by automating various processes like monitoring for exceptions, audit trails and backups. It offers a multi-asset platform comprising of equities, FX and futures, across countries like Japan, Singapore, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Hong Kong, etc.

Adrianna Tan

Company: Wobe

Focus Area: Payments/Remittance

Designation/Role at Company: Founder & CEO

About WobeWobe is a mobile application that enables people to start a small business with the help of their Android smartphone. Users can start their own business by selling prepaid phone credit and other digital products like electricity and water vouchers on a later stage. Wobe enables millions of unbanked Southeast Asians to perform micro-payments with the help of an e-wallet on their smartphones. The users are able to generate income by processing person-person bills and utilities through this application.

Ai Meun Lim

Company: Percipient

Focus Area: Big Data & Analytics

Designation/Role at Company: Chief Product Officer

About Percipient: Percipient is a data technology and analytics company which enables organizations to drive scalable, efficient and cost-effective growth in data by using its Big Data technology and advanced analytics platform. Its flagship product, UniConnect, is built to hyper-accelerate connectivity between data sources that currently don’t talk to each other or cost too much to integrate. Percipients other solutions include SparkPlus, ScalETF, and Unified APIs.

Alice Chen

Company: InvestaCrowd

Focus Area: Online Funding

Designation/Role at Company: Co-founder & General Counsel

About InvestaCrowd: InvestaCrowd is a real estate crowdfunding platform that brings exclusive investment opportunities to its members. It is a members-only platform for commodities debt and equity investments in private real estate projects. It breaks down share price per investor which enables the investors to co-invest alongside reputable institutional grade real estate developers.

Anna Gong

Company: Perx Technologies

Focus Area: AI

Designation/Role at Company: CEO & Board Member

About Perx: Perx Technologies is a mobile customer engagement solutions provider that enables businesses to acquire, engage and reward their customers, intelligently and contextually via real-time, actionable insights. Perx offers a mobile loyalty app that makes it an easy and convenient way for its users to earn rewards through points, chops or stamps from different merchants across Singapore. Perx also enables users to discover and locate the best rewards around them ranging from everyday purchases, overseas adventures or beauty therapy.

Anna Vanessa Haotanto

Company: The New Savvy

Focus Area: Personal Finance Management

Designation/Role at Company: CEO at The New Savvy

About The New Savvy: The New Savvy is an online financial guide and career tips platform for women based out of Singapore. The portal publishes content for women related to their finances and careers.

Ayesha Khanna

Company: Addo.AI

Focus Area: AI

Designation/Role at Company: Co-founder & CEO

About Addo.AIAddo.ai is an intelligence advisory and incubator platform that enables governments, corporations, and startups to build data-driven platforms by analyzing a massive amount of data and provide data-driven services and products to the users. With the help of these AI-driven solutions, companies are able to reach new markets and optimize their operations. The various services offered by Addo.ai are statistical analyzing, deep learning, code engineering, machine learning, user predictions, and cloud-based architecture.

Chandrima Das

Company: Bento

Focus Area: Investments Platform

Designation/Role at Company: Co-founder & CEO

About Bento: Bento is an algorithm-powered robotic investment advisor that provides sophisticated investment tools and customized portfolios. Bento’s investment platform aggregates clients’ holdings data across multiple banks and offers discretionary portfolio management & advisory services at competitive rates.

Charis Liau

Company: Minterest

Focus Area: Lending

Designation/Role at Company: Co-founder & CEO

About Minterest: Minterest is a peer-to-peer lending platform that offers a value proposition for both borrowers and investors. It provides tailor-made financing solutions to the borrowers as per their business requirements. It also provides advice to investors by identifying the suitable Singapore companies for investment.

Cindy Nguyen

Company: Regit

Focus Area: RegTech, Big Data & Analytics

Designation/Role at Company: CEO & Founder at Regit

About RegitRegit is a compliant, formless-forever customer platform that simplifies how business and customers exchange information in one click.

Elena Lonenko

Company: Turnkey Lender

Focus Area: Lending

Designation/Role at Company: Co-founder & Business Development

About Turnkey Lender: Turnkey Lender is an online lending software with credit application processing & loan management for payday lenders, microfinance, and online lending businesses. It helps lenders with a credit scoring systems. It is an all-in-one platform and uses automation to filter out unnecessary or risky propositions.

Gina Heng

Company: Miss Kaya

Focus Area: Personal Finance Management

Designation/Role at Company: Co-founder & CEO

About Miss Kaya: Miss Kaya is a digital financial services provider for women in Asia focused on financial budgeting and portfolio management. It aims to provide women with the resources and information on ways to best grow their incomes, enabling them to be financially responsible and in control of their budget, allowing them to mold their future plans without any monetary hindrance.

Ginnie Chin

Company: Culum Capital

Focus Area: Business Lending

Designation/Role at Company: Co-founder & MD

About Culum Capital: Culum Capital enables businesses to grow by providing them with funding options. The different funding solutions offered by them are receivables purchase or invoice financing for small companies and supply chain finance or supplier finance for large companies. The investment platform also enables accredited investors to invest in short-term invoices with an expected return up to 25% per annum.

Goh Yiping

Company: Element

Focus Area: AI, Security – Fraud & Authentication

Designation/Role at Company: President

About Element Inc.: Element develops and distributes an AI-based mobile software solution to enable digital identity for health services and financial inclusion. It utilizes mobile deep learning technology to build high-performing mobile platforms for digital identification.

Jennifer Leger

Company: Quber

Focus Area: Personal Financial Management

Designation/Role at Company: Co-founder

About Quber: Quber helps FIs increase customer lifetime value and acquire new customers by leveraging AI & big data within an engaging mobile platform.

Joyce Woo

Company: Jachin Capital

Focus Area: Wealth Management/Investments Platform

Designation/Role at Company: Founder & CEO

About Jachin Capital: iAdvisor, a brand of Jachin Capital, is a digital investing platform that provides personalized dynamic portfolios to the accredited investors. These portfolios are carefully administered as per the client’s requirements. It offers 28 curated stock portfolios with themes ranging from robotics to cybersecurity to driverless cars. The portfolios are developed by referring to the stocks listed in five different countries.

Ketki Sen

Company: Spinta

Focus Area: Startup Accelerator

Designation/Role at Company: CoFounder & Director at Spinta Global Accelerator

About Spinta Global Accelerator: Spinta Accelerator helps aspiring entrepreneurs to enhance their business ideas and transform them into successful businesses. It employs a three-step Katalyst process that includes an array of services in order to develop the minimal viable product or solution.

Khai Lin

Company: Fundnel

Focus Area: Online Funding

Designation/Role at Company: Co-founder & CFO

About Fundnel: Fundnel is a private investment platform that offers unlisted securities in growth and pre-IPO stage companies across industries to a qualified network of investors, comprising of both professional – corporate venture, private equity, venture capital funds, family offices, angel investor networks – and individually accredited investors actively looking to diversify their current portfolio. Fundnel screens all investment opportunities to ensure businesses meet the minimum requirements defined by the Fundnel Factor – a proprietary data-driven due-diligence process analyzing over 130 quantitative data points per company – before reaching its investor network.

Michelle Katics

Company: BankersLab®

Focus Area: Training-Tech

Designation/Role at Company: Co-founder, Non- Executive Director &Innovation Advisor

About BankersLab®BankersLab has developed SaaS ‘virtual world’ training simulations for bankers and FinTech lenders. Its flagship product, PortfolioQuest, is a single player Saas simulation product where participants compete against each other to manage the most profitable portfolios. BankersLab delivers innovative and strategic learning to the bankers and financial professionals. It offers training to the participants on both secured and unsecured retail products and covers all parts of credit life cycle like product design, account management, portfolio monitoring, etc.

Nalinee Chinowuthichai

Company: InvoiceInterchange

Focus Area: Business Lending

Designation/Role at Company: COO

About InvoiceInterchange: InvoiceInterchange is an invoice-trading marketplace, providing working capital solutions to fund business growth. InvoiceInterchange offers a fast & flexible way to finance businesses and allows companies to grow, pay bills or overcome seasonal cash flow fluctuations by freeing up cash locked up in invoices due 30, 60, or even 90 days.

Nicki Ramsay

Company: CardUp

Focus Area: Payments

Designation/Role at Company: Founder & CEO

About CardUp: CardUp’s customers (consumers and small businesses) choose to use their favorite credit card where they couldn’t before, specifically for big ticket items such as paying rent, taxes, suppliers or payroll. By shifting payments that were previously made by check, cash or bank transfer to card, they unlock up to 60 days instant credit, improve cashflow, and earn rewards, miles and cashback on all their big payments

Nyha Shree

Company: Jumper.ai

Focus Area: AI

Designation/Role at Company: Co-founder

About Jumper.ai: jumper.ai has built AI-powered omnichannel commerce platform that enables buy, sell and collect payments on social media platforms. Sellers generate actionable #hashtags and/or super-powered short links using jumper’s tech which converts their post into a direct point-of-sale. Buyers can show intent by commenting on the post with the #producthashtag and confirm via their AI channel (FB Messenger/SMS currently). For posts with super-powered short links, users click the link and purchase using their web-bot in < 1 minute; and if they’ve previously purchased using jumper.ai, their preferred AI channel will kick in (messenger/SMS).

Rekha Hari

Company: SoCash

Focus Area: BankingTech

Designation/Role at Company: Co-founder, Director & Head of Program Management

About SoCash: SoCash develops an application to withdraw and deposit cash. The company allows users to place an order, select a merchant or a neighborhood shop, and get cash. It also allows neighborhood shop owners to earn extra cash and bring more customers to their shop. The startup uses your bank’s mobile app to let users transfer an amount to the merchant’s bank account. Users can then pick up the cash at that outlet.

Rosaline Chow Koo 

Company: CXA Group

Focus Area: InsurTech

Designation/Role at Company: Founder & CEO of CXA Group

About CXA Group: Connexions Asia is an insurance and wellness marketplace that helps companies transform their current healthcare spends into personalized benefits and wellness programs. The company administers, tracks, and analyzes data from health screenings, lifestyle risks, and hospitals & clinics to improve workforce health, reduce claims costs and absenteeism.

Sarah Tin

Company: Bamboo

Focus Area: B2B FinTech

Designation/Role at Company: Co-founder & CEO

About Bamboo: Bamboo enables small businesses in Asia to manage their company’s expenses with the help of a digital expense management platform. They provide a web-based or handheld app that has an integrated online payments and expense system for managing business expenses.

Dr. Shonali Krishnaswamy

Company: AIDA Technologies

Focus Area: AI

Designation/Role at Company: CTO

About AIDA Technologies: AIDA Technologies focuses on AI-based predictive analytics and intelligent systems. Through its AI-driven analytics, AIDA provides solutions that solve the key challenge of augmenting human experts the ability to make decisions based on large amounts of heterogeneous information.

Silvana Carpanelli-Hayes

Company: Waave

Focus Area: Payments

Designation/Role at Company: Founder at WAAVE

About WAAVE: WAAVE is a social mobile wallet that enables the fastest way to order and pay for drinks, food, store items and tickets in Singapore.

Val (Valenzia) Ji-hsuan Yap

Company: Policy Pal

Focus Area: InsurTech

Designation/Role at Company: Founder & CEO

About PolicyPal: PolicyPal is a digital insurance manager which aims to make the process of buying and managing insurance simple. The portal allows consumers to manage their insurance policies online.

Yuhan Hu

Company: Singapore Receivables Exchange (SGRecX)

Focus Area: Business Lending

Designation/Role at Company: General Counsel & Co-founder

About Singapore Receivables Exchange (SGRecX): Singapore Receivables Exchange is an online platform that provides account receivables financing to SMEs. The SMEs can simply upload their invoices and get the money in as quick as three days and even at a faster rate for repeating customers. Once approved on SGRecx, the business will receive a unique account number and a physical PO address in the company’s name. Since the SGRecx account is in the company’s name, the customers of the company can directly pay to SGRex either by electronic transfer to the bank account or by physical checks sent to the post office.

While the above list showcases some of the female entrepreneurs in the FinTech and InsurTech space there are other notable entrepreneurs in Singapore that we would like to highlight:

Cherry Khoo

Company: AOI

Focus Area: Health/MedTech

Designation/Role at Company: Co-Founder, Director-CEO at AOI

About AOI: AOI (Advanced Ophthalmic Innovations) conducts research to develop long-term and effective solutions in order to prevent glaucoma patients from losing eyesight. The company’s flagship product Paul Glaucoma Implant is a drainage device that will prevent further progression of glaucoma in the eyes.

Caroline Bowler

Company: Bowlah

Focus Area: FinTech PR

Designation/Role at Company: Founder

About Bowlah: Bowlah is a specialist financial technology public relations agency.

Eileen Chan

Company: Content.co

Focus Area: MarTech

Designation/Role at Company: Co-founder

About Content.co: Content.co is an end-to-end marketing platform that enables brands to create and deploy content marketing programs. The platform enables the clients to discover new ideas, handle payments and review results. Content.co offers a wide range of solutions like creating content, engaging target audience by distributing contents, developing content strategy for brands & customers, and editorial management of content.

Mouna Aouri

Company: Woomentum

Focus Area: Women-focused advisory and mentorship

Designation/Role at Company: Founder & CEO

About Woomentum: Woomentum is an online community platform for entrepreneurs and business leaders to connect with experts, mentors, and investors. Woomentum focuses on gender diverse teams and promoting women to participate in the engine of growth and innovation.

Sumedha Khoche

Company: Social Weaver

Focus Area: Parent-Tech

Designation/Role at Company: Founder & CEO

About Social Weaver: Social Weaver caters to parents and parents-to-be by providing a list of Singapore’s service providers and resources for kids, with ratings and reviews. Users can discover, compare and book services on the website and service providers can list their businesses in social weaver.

Yi Wen Chan

Company: Content.co

Focus Area: MarTech

Designation/Role at Company: Co-founder

About Content.co: Content.co is an end-to-end marketing platform that enables brands to create and deploy content marketing programs. The platform enables the clients to discover new ideas, handle payments and review results. Content.co offers a wide range of solutions like creating content, engaging target audience by distributing content, developing content strategy for brands & customers, and editorial management of content.

 

This article was contributed by Medici

SME Financing Made Different – Charis Liau

Charis Liau is our very own Co-founder and CEO. Minterest is a peer-to-business lending platform that connects SME borrowers with investors around the region. Besides helping SMEs to on their financing needs and investors on their investment needs, Charis enjoys Korean drams and online shopping.

Charis shared with Fintechnopreneur about herself and her hopes for Minterest.

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I’m Charis Liau, co-founder and CEO of Minterest. I spent the last 15 years of my professional life in the banking and finance sector. Having worked with corporates, small and large, I noticed that there are underwhelming resources dedicated to helping small enterprises fuel their business growth through proper analysis and structuring of their financing needs. After taking time out to have my younger child, I decided to do something about it. Apart from that, I enjoy Korean dramas and online shopping!

What is your business venture about?

Minterest is a peer-to-business lending platform that connects SME borrowers with investors around the region. Our business is about assisting borrowers to raise capital efficiently to turbocharge their businesses while offering investors the opportunity to invest in quality loans to enhance their investment portfolio.

At Minterest, we offer both loans and convertible loans on our platform. We are about bringing big company fund raising experience to SMEs where they can access our structuring and credit analysis expertise and experience. We understand that no two business are alike and that is why we look at each business on its own merits. Our bespoke process aims to deliver well-structured, risk-mitigated financing solutions to clients and in turn, offer investment opportunities to investors that have been rigorously analysed.

Minterest holds a Capital Markets Services licence issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore to deal with securities under the Securities and Futures Act.

What is your mission at the outset?

Our mission is to empower investors and businesses and deliver on their financial goals via customized solutions and FinTech. At Minterest, we believe in bringing financial inclusion to the unbanked and underserved businesses. From where I was previously, businesses have constantly been constrained by various requirements of conventional finance providers. My team and I would like to change that so that we can help businesses bring their future to the present. We also want to enable investors with the necessary financial knowledge and access to quality investments in Singapore enterprises allowing them to play a part, no matter how small, in making a difference to the growth trajectory of these businesses.

How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

This is an interesting question. There wasn’t a “big bang” thought or I waking up believing that I need to do this business. Nothing like that. I think it is just ideas and thoughts rolling into one another on how I can use my experience to make a difference to the small guys out there that struggle to finance their businesses or visions, no matter how good they are. What was amazing for me (and still amazes me today) was that I was able to join forces with people I have worked closely with previously who share the same vision, mission and purpose as I do.

Small and medium size companies contribute close to 47% of Singapore’s economy and employ 70% of the working population. However, 40% of those SMEs have no access to bank financing. By helping these businesses raise capital to fuel their business growth, I would like to think that we are making a meaningful contribution to our society. And that makes me feel proud and satisfied.

What is unique about your business?

Our key differentiating factor is our experienced and dedicated founding and management team. We are a team of former bankers with more than 100 years of combined experience in corporate and structured finance, as well as financial governance. My team includes people who have led global and regional businesses in large international banks. We approach transactions in an unbiased way, without any pre-conceived ideas of what a loan tenor, interest rate, etc. will look like before we speak to the borrowers. No two borrowers are alike and as such, we approach every deal on its own merits. We understand both sides of the financial equation – the tension between borrowers (low costs) and investors (high returns), so we strive to achieve a balanced risk/reward profile for both sides so that risks taken are properly remunerated.

At Minterest, we want to be a true alternative source of financing for borrowers large and small. Borrower can raise funds via a loan or a bespoke convertible loan through the platform. Our documentation is transacted online, and each investor has his/her own e-wallet which they can view, transact and invest directly into loans that are listed on the platform.

Minterest is built on a foundation of integrity and good governance. Duty of care to our stakeholders is at the centre of what we do. We want to build tomorrow’s financial eco-system, one that serves rather than rules.

Why will customers stay or do repeat business with you?

The key to have repeat business is to ensure that you have a good product or service and continue to deliver to your stakeholders at the highest standards. It is a very slippery slope if you don’t. I guess this is true for every business and it is no different for us at Minterest. We want our borrowers to experience the Minterest Difference where we sit down with them to understand their requirements, advising them on financial management and how best they can structure their loans to suit their cash flows. For example, we ended up helping a borrower to look at how their tax matters were managed, how they could be a bit more efficient and assisting them in discussing such matters with their tax agents. Needless to say, the borrower was very appreciative. We like to say that when a borrower comes to us, the need for funding is given. What we need to do is to see how we can assist them in doing a deal that makes sense for them in light of their business situation. We complement this with our understanding of investors’ requirements and appetite to come up with a solution that works for all.

We also spend a great deal of time ensuring a quality user interface and great experience for both investors and borrowers when they sign up, transact and use our platform. At Minterest, we want to build long term relationships that last.

If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

It may be a cliché, but I would say that it’s grit! Starting out is not easy, one needs a plentiful amount of perseverance and passion to make the dream come to fruition. It is extremely important to find co-founders who share the same vision, mission and purpose as you. Do not be afraid to evolve, and evolve quickly. We live in a world where innovations are hitting us at a speed of a hundred miles an hour and macro-economic factors do impact the littlest of things we do. We need to be nimble and continuously be prepared for changes. As one of my co-founders said to me the other day – “Are you ready? Are you ready for the caravan of excitement (of starting a new venture)? We may have a bumpy ride, we may fall down but what is important is to pick ourselves up and continue with the journey.”

Do you have any final thoughts?

Singapore, being a major financial centre, is a great place to launch a FinTech startup. I hope that what we are building can serve the SMEs efficiently and truly make a difference to their business and lives, whilst empowering the investors in building a greater diversified portfolio as they invest in quality loans.

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

I truly believe that we are on the cusp of a major shift in how banking and financial services are going to be delivered. As technology advances and society’s attitudes changes, the providers of banking services need to change and adapt quickly.

On a more personal note, as my young kids grow up, I’m certain their requirements of banking services will be very different as compared to myself or my parents. I’m excited to be building a financial eco-system that will be able to effectively serve their generation in time to come.

What’s next for you and for Minterest?

We have just launched our platform and have seen keen interest and demand from both borrowers and lenders on our platform. Our first loan was fully participated in just over 3 days! The immediate thing for my team and I is to deliver on a great product and ensuring that we stay true to our mission and vision on why we started this in the first place. Medium term, we will be looking to introduce other capabilities to help our investors better manage their portfolios and be even more focused on how we can better analyse the creditworthiness of borrowers and how we can deliver on our advisory capabilities to them.

 

This article was contributed by Fintechnopreneur

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