With over 5 million credit cards issued in Southeast Asia alone per year, and an expected growth of at least 25% in the next 5 years, the credit card industry is booming, to say the least.
In Singapore alone, consumers have a choice of over 76 credit cards, all with varying benefits and targeting varying groups. While some are restricted in selection due to their income, Singaporeans in general are able to apply for most credit cards without many issues.
We usually get our introductions to credit cards from persistent salespeople, or many times, from our encounters with friends holding certain cards with irresistible benefits.
The process of signing up and getting your newly minted card is usually smoother than a baby’s cheeks, but how many Singaporeans are actually fully aware of what their card’s (or cards’) benefits and fees are?
“What Is The Best Credit Card?”
When CEO Ray Ow realised that there was “a lack of clarity on how to fully utilise and manage all our cards once we have them”, he launched Cardable to address that information gap.
Cardable is a credit card comparison site which provides recommendations of cards and their privileges based on personalised analyses on cardholders’ preferences and profiles.
“There are heaps of credit cards out there on the market, and we are often asked “what is the best credit card”. We believe that there is no single best card out there. Rather, the card’s benefits to you depend entirely on your personal preferences and habits. Our philosophy is not to get Singaporeans to apply for as many cards as possible. Rather, it is really about helping them easily enjoy better savings, privileges and lifestyle with the best matched cards.”
Cardholders are also able to sign up for updates on their cards, bill reminders and even upcoming promotions. With Cardable’s consumer profiling, card companies also stand to benefit in their user acquisition due to better insights on target markets.
With advisors like Rohit Jamwal (Director of Citibank), Roderick Chia (Founder of RodVenture), Kenneth Lam (Serial Entrepreneur) and Ayla Kremb (Community Manager, ALDP), the Cardable team’s dedication and effective model has more than just paid off, with user acquisition from a higher-than-industry-average 80% organic search traffic – which also translates to lower promotion costs on their end.
By building a long term relationship with cardholders through card management, they also managed to acquire a high engagement rate (around 60% of users) among the rather elusive young working adult population.
The Beginnings Of Cardable
CEO Ray Ow, a Computing graduate from the National University of Singapore, started his career as a technology business analyst in wealth management giant Merrill Lynch, followed by a stint at Swiss private banking company Julius Baer.
“Working on technology in the wealth management space really grew my interest and honed my skills in leveraging technology to improve the personal finances of people. You can say I felt the urge to move from building platforms that help the rich get richer to building a platform that helps the everyday working adult.”
And follow that urge he did.
After leaving his corporate job in 2014, Ray set off on his journey as a solo-entrepreneur for a year, before getting current CTO, Daya Shankar, on board. They bonded over a similar passion for personal finance technology, and Daya, being stronger in coding, handles the tech side of the business; while Ray handles the operations and the business per se.
“We enjoy taking things apart to see the various ways we can tackle an issue. One feature that we built together a few months back involved deconstructing the various rebates, terms and conditions, min-max spending scenarios of cash-back credit cards in Singapore so that we can match credit cards to consumers based on their input of spending behaviour, optimising their savings.”
Wanting to learn more about business growth and from the experiences of other startups, the team pitched to Telstra-backed Australian accelerator Muru-D‘s first Singapore-based programme; and in August 2015, was announced to be one of the nine local startups picked. The programme included S$40,000 for each startup, six months of business support, a workplace in the CBD and introductions to mentors, coaches and investors.
They graduated from the programme in March this year, and since then, soft-launched in the Philippines and grew their traffic by more than 600% in the last 3 months.
“Muru-D provided us with invaluable mentorship, strong corporate support, visibility to our startup, funds and connections. We’re proud to be have been given the opportunity to go through their program and be part of their very first batch in Singapore.” Ray told us.
Startup Culture: “Like Being On A Roller Coaster”
Ray also shared his love for the startup life, even though it’s very much “like being on a roller coaster (with) extreme highs and lows”.
“It’s not for everyone, and at the end of the day, you will test yourself like never before as well as discover brand new things about yourself. More importantly, you will learn to appreciate those around you more. I love the pay-it- forward culture that we have in the community here. I have met so many wonderful mentors and friends who have generously provided advice, support, referrals and even office space.”
He also dishes out advice to those who are new to the wild, but definitely fulfilling ride: “My advice to new founders is that as you have freely received, freely give back as well.”
There are definitely no brakes on the Cardable train, and we asked Ray about their upcoming plans.
“We have several exciting features in the pipeline, one of which is to help our users manage their credit card bills. (We) also planning to go to more countries in Asia so that we can better serve credit cardholders in the region.”
So friends in other Asian countries, do watch out for them!