Back when the possibly overused buzzword “fintech” wasn’t even a thing, 2 bankers saw a gap they could fill in.
In 2014, Naysan Munusamy and Adrian Yap realised that although there were a lot of tech startups in Asia, no one was really delving into the finance side.
It was already a common thing in the U.K. and U.S. region with big players dominating the market, so these Malaysians wanted to try and innovate the sector here.
“We were only at the stage of powerpoint slides with ideas but we wanted to bring that concept of peer-to-peer currency exchange here to Southeast Asia and we thought the time was right,” said Naysan.
The duo then brought along former Rocket Internet Singapore assistant vice president, Fazil Fuad, and together they formed what is now known as MoneyMatch.
Redefining How Currency Exchange Should Be
MoneyMatch defines themselves as a Malaysian fintech startup who can help put more money in your hands through an entirely digital online process.
When I first heard the term peer-to-peer currency exchange, it did make me scratch my head a little but Naysan broke it down for me.
Basically their platform lets you transfer and exchange foreign currencies online with other individuals without needing any middle man.
It sounded like a brilliant idea, but it didn’t really kick off because many were not confident in the execution due to regulations and how new the idea of fintech was at that time.
The trio decided to enroll into the first batch for Cyberview Living Lab Accelerator (CLLA) Programme, who gave them their initial fund of RM50,000 to kickstart their product development.
“Cyberview also brought in our first mentor, Azran Osman Rani, the CEO of iFlix Malaysia so we had a high profile tutor from the start. All these things combined really helped to push us further,” said Naysan.
Through the program, they had a clearer vision on what their next step was.
They met their earliest angel investor, Kosciuszko Holdings, during CLLA’s Demo Day who invested US$150,000 in them and with these funds, they launched their simple mobile app that allowed this peer-to-peer currency exchange.
Good Things Come In Threes
MoneyMatch has 3 offerings, although 1 is not really considered a product per se.
eKYC (KYC standing for know-your-customer) helps to power their 2 main consumer products by verifying the identity of a person.
Naysan explained it with a scenario of us going to banks where our IC and thumbprints are required when making big transactions. It’s the same case with remittance, but eKYC does it all online.
“From the comforts of your home, you can conduct a full-blown cross border remittance purely online and through mobile. I’m proud to say that we are the first to launch eKYC in Malaysia thanks to Bank Negara’s approval,” said Naysan.
The remaining 2 products are:
- MoneyMatch Transfer which offers cross border remittances.
- MoneyMatch Exchange that lets you do currency exchange on a mobile app (yet to be launched).
Naysan shared a story of a customer who used MoneyMatch Transfer to transfer AU$14,000 for his son’s university fees in Australia.
Compared to the traditional bank he typically uses, MoneyMatch helped the customer conduct all the transactions online through their web platform without needing to open any new bank accounts since MoneyMatch is bank agnostic.
He also saved RM900+ from the AU$14,000 he transferred.
“Over 2 days, the money arrived at the same time or even faster than the bank could offer him and he saved that much money for the exact same product. So we’re giving people an enhanced user convenience and also a lot more cost saving,” said Naysan.
When I asked how the customer saved that much, Naysan used a simple comparison, equating his platform to the online e-commerce platform, Lazada, versus a shopping complex, like Midvalley Megamall.
“Think of us as the Lazada model. We may be similar in terms of how we enter the wholesale market to do the pricing and delivering to the network of banks or remittance partners, but at the end of the day, I don’t have to open a physical branch, hire staff, or do renovations.”
“Everything is done at our headquarters and through our mobile app. So obviously my overhead cost is dropped and I can pass that cost savings to the customer. That’s the easiest way to look at things,” said Naysan.
But to get to this stage where they can offer customers these benefits has been a long journey.
He said it has been difficult to go fully digital because of eKYC issues such as security, anti-phishing and identity theft. MoneyMatch also handles real life transactions so money laundering becomes another concern.
In March 2016, they started engaging with Bank Negara who had launched a fintech sandbox that would allow them to operate smoothly while complying to the right regulations.
They applied and received approval to conduct their fintech operations by the end of May this year.
“If you look at the timeline, it’s actually only been about 3 months since we ‘launched’ our products. It’s only for beta testers at the moment but we’re finalising all the bugs and payment corridors. We hope to do a full launch by September for the public,” said Naysan.
Being The “Jaguh Kampung” First
There were 4 enterprises in total approved by Bank Negara to run in their Fintech sandbox, 2 local and 2 foreign. Naysan felt a sense of pride seeing MoneyMatch be approved alongside the other 3 who were more well-funded with a senior team.
It gave them the image of being a true Malaysian startup, so that inspired them to grow a strong presence locally first.
He questioned “startups who can’t even be a jaguh kampung (champion)” in their own turf and asks “why would they then have the ambition to want to be in 10 different countries”.
“You have to be good at where you are first. So we want to be really good in Malaysia and prove that even if our competitors in the fintech sandbox are the big boys, we can do it and save Malaysians more money. This can then catalyse our regional growth,” said Naysan.
He also shared that MoneyMatch has recently closed a seed round from their mentor and now investor, Azran. The funds would be used for commercialisation as well as growing their team of 15 to perhaps 20 by the end of the year.
Their main focus will now be on growing their user base since before they received Bank Negara’s approval, it would’ve been illegal to approach the mass public and promote their platform.
“Ever since the end of May, we have 50–60 customers with 30 corporate customers using our platform since we’re not publicising much. We’re improving our platform based on the feedback and we are finalising the final platform to push out soon,” said Naysan.
This article was written in collaboration with Cyberview.
Feature Image Credit: MoneyMatch