Today, the doorway to the future of fintech in Singapore can be found between two furniture shops and a sports store in Suntec City.
“At Paypal, we believe that people are good”. Declares Paypal General Manager of Technology, APAC, Anupam Pahuja. With fintech in mind, this belief has been rendered obsolete as technology has seemingly automated trust.
When I asked all 3 startups, who have come from all over the world, they agreed that Singapore was simply the best place, regulatory-wise, to start for technology as our regulations are widely accepted in the region.
Likewise, Pahuja echoed this sentiment, also adding that Paypal will be interacting with Singapore’s local tech startups to find mentors with expertise to help the 3 fintech startups under their program.
The Cutting Edge of Fintech
At it’s finest, fintech acts as the ultimate impartial middle man. By ensuring nothing moves until both sides fulfil their ends of the bargain, the automation of the middle man by technology allows transactions to happen as quickly as possible.
The “good”-ness of fintech is the immediacy it brings to finance. As quickly as you would swipe your credit card, a transaction worth millions of dollars could be completed – with all the paperwork in order. This is done by automating the checking systems in place to ensure that the transaction is fair.
As I said, the middle man has well and truly been automated.
One word I kept hearing during the launch presentation was “free”.
By now, I am no skeptic to this term in fintech, and with good reason: with everything being automated, you no longer have to pay professionals to run the financial systems. Take Android Pay, for example. All you have to do is code it into your shop, or have an NFC reader and you’re good to go.
“Free” also means accessible, and the 3 new startups at the Paypal incubator were offering the very cutting edge of financial technologies to the Singapore market. “There weren’t any other projects which comes to mind that I wanted to have in addition [to these 3 already here]”, Pahuja told me after I asked.
ONEPAY: Fee-less and Borderless Payment
Think about when Whatsapp gave you free messages. Now, imagine that for all forms of payment in the world. By tapping onto cryptocurrency, ONEPAY aims to do exactly that.
Crypto-what? Well, cryptocurrency is a virtual currency that is produced by an encryption software, hence, “crypto”. The currency, bitcoins, is produced when certain number of transactions are encrypted.
The bitcoins are rewarded to the “miners”, who are the people running the encryption software, after a “block” of encryptions are completed, hence earning it’s name, “blockchain technology“.
Paul K., CXO of ONEPAY had one thing to say about payment: “If we made the costs of transactions zero, I’m sure people would interact with money differently”.
But how does onepay make costs zero? Well, blockchain technology produces value in of itself, by paying bitcoin to miners. Hence, by using blockchain technology, and a borderless currency like bitcoin, there are no costs!
How will people interact with differently then?
Just like how free delivery might make you more willing to buy something, no transaction fees mean even small transactions can be meaningful ones.
When ONEPAY takes off, I’d imagine Visa and Mastercard really has something to worry about.
Paul also proposed that in the future, people would be able to simply send money over text messages and not worry about security, all thanks to blockchain technology.
That sounds insane, but is already becoming a reality thanks to ONEPAY.
Prosecure: Free Insurance, Consumer-style
If you’ve ever purchased something online, you know that you’ll tend to avoid the tedium of returning the product even if it’s defective. Not only are you thinking about the costs of sending the items back, but also about how much time it will take.
Prosecure aims to automate the returns process for the consumer and render such costs entirely free. By working together with delivery companies and acting as the middle man for the consumers, Prosecure just needs you to return the product to a central, local place and they’ll take care of the rest.
Prosecure runs a business model similar to billion-dollar online-only insurance company Zhong An. Return-delivery insurance, as Wei Zhu, Co-founder of Prosecure explains, uses big data to show retailers that customers that can freely return products are 3 times more likely to be repeat customers.
Alibaba branch Taobao already runs such an insurance program but it comes as a premium service. Wei Zhu says that he aims to provide such a service free of charge to the consumers, getting value from the partnerships he foresees the company will be having.
Invoiceinterchange: Daily P2P funding for SMEs
P2P funding has never been as extreme as this.
With over 3 million in funds transacted, Invoiceinterchange revolutionises a SME banking system, factoring, by allowing investors like you and me to buy up unpaid invoices in exchange for a small return.
I asked my banking friend what factoring was, and he says it the best: imagine buying an IOU slip for 90% of it’s value. The person you buy the IOU from gets the money immediately, and you get more money from the debtor further down the road.
In short, you’re now the ‘bank’ as you’ve purchased debt at a cheaper price than it’s actual value. Invoiceinterchange helps ensure that investors have a peace of mind by providing legal agreements, recourse and protections; meaning they run the processes run by banks, so you won’t have anything to worry about.
Already up for 10 months now, Invoiceinterchange is well on its way to becoming a supercharged Moolahsense/ Funding Societies, allowing investors to tap on a S$322-billion large financial well only currently available to banks.
Why is Paypal Doing This?
This corporate-sponsored incubation program is the first of it’s kind in Singapore, and I’m hoping it starts a trend of companies helping introduce technological innovations into Singapore and helping them become feasible.
Pahuja could only speculate with me what will happen during the incubation program, but the end goal in mind is clear: Increase the fintech pie in Singapore.
To that, I’m hoping for the success of the 3 startups and that we’ll be hearing about them more and more in the next 9 months. – Vulcan Post