13 Mar

Grab Financial – Grab, Uber’s Southeast Asia rival, now offers micro-loans and other financial services

Grab, Uber’s Southeast Asia rival, now offers micro-loans and other financial services


Ride-hailing service Grab is being heavily linked with a deal to buy out Uber’s business in Southeast Asia, but those rumors aren’t stopping it from building its fintech platform after announced a financial services unit.

The Singapore-based company has been pushing itself into fintech for some time, with the most visible moment being the launch of its mobile payments service last November. Today, it extended that further still by introducing micro-loans and insurance options for Grab drivers and businesses that use its GrabPay services.

For its new offerings, Grab has teamed up with Credit Saison, a $3 billion firm that is Japan’s biggest lender with some 70 million credit cards in circulation, to create a joint venture called Grab Financial Services Asia. U.S.-based insurer Chubb has signed on as a partner.

In an interview with TechCrunch on the sidelines of the Money2020 event in Singapore, Jason Thompson, who is head of GrabPay, said the move is in line with Grab’s focus on enabling business and income in Southeast Asia.

“Today we’ve helped create about five million jobs [across Grab services], for those people to grow their businesses, we need to provide them with financial services. Whether that’s nano-loans for working capital, the ability to buy a car, actually without financial services we’re going to restrict the business growth of that whole ecosystem. That’s the reason we’re doing it,” he said.

Rather than pumping potential financial services customers with alerts via its app, Grab plans to take a community-driven approach and promote the availability of services using its driver events, its network of agents and other offline means.

Credit scoring is tricky in many emerging regions since a large proportion of people don’t own bank accounts or use them regularly. In Southeast Asia, KMPMG estimates that just 27 percent of the region’s 600 million population have a bank account. Grab plans to assess loan recipients and insurance candidates using a mixture of signals that could include their driving style, which Thompson said it can track using telemetrics from a driver’s device.

So while it wouldn’t be the lone criteria for scoring, a Grab driver’s driving style could play a part in assessing whether they receive a loan, Thompson explained.

Grab CEO Anthony Tan announces Grab Financial Services Asia

Grab is initially focused on serving business customers, but Thompson said that it may look to expand to cater to consumers further down the line. Already, he added, Grab has a loan book in excess of $700 million thanks to campaigns to provide car financing, insurance and more.

Grab’s serves eight countries in Southeast Asia but its financial services push has appeared to take an Indonesia-first approach. The country, Southeast Asia’s largest economy is where Grab acquired offline payment network Kudo in a deal that sources told TechCrunch could reach $100 million.

Thompson said Grab had “refocused” the Kudo business and used it to develop Grab’s relationship with SMEs and the driver community ahead of the introduction of financial services. He added, however, that all financial services from GrabPay will roll out across the region by the end of this year.

Grab may be a relatively new entrant to the payment space, but the company brings seriously clout. Valued at more than $6 billionwith investors like SoftBank, Indonesia’s Lippo Group and China’s Didi Chuxing in its corner, it’ll be interested to observe whether Grab can use its private sector and government relationships to build regional financial services in Southeast Asia where, to date, most competitors have focused on single markets or subsets of countries.

08 Mar

The Financial industry is shifting: Challenger bank Atom raises £149m

Atom Bank raises £149m

A UK-based digital bank Atom has raised £149 million in the latest funding round, including £85.4 million from its existing investor, BBVA.

BBVA now holds a 39% stake in Atom, and has so far invested £167 million into it.

BBVA states the move is a “sign of its confidence in both the business strategy and management team at Atom”. It’s worth noting that Atom’s founder and chairman, Anthony Thomson, has recently resigned.

“Atom is progressing extremely well and we continue to support the company,” states BBVA’s CEO, Carlos Torres Vila.

Since its inception in 2014, Atom, which focuses on savings and lending (it does not offer current accounts), has achieved:

  • attracted over £1.3 billion of savings deposits;
  • lent over £1.2 billion to SMEs and homeowners;
  • raised £400 million of equity capital, including from Toscafund Asset Management and Woodford Investment Management (in addition to BBVA);
  • established an international network of partners, including Deposit Solutions in Germany;
  • built a team of 310 employees.

Atom also claims to have the fastest account opening time in the UK – it takes just five minutes from downloading the app to account opening (provided the right requirements are in place).

07 Mar

ABN AMRO Chooses Wolters Kluwer and SAS for regulatory compliance project

ABN AMRO Chooses Wolters Kluwer and SAS for regulatory compliance project

ABN AMRO, the third largest bank in the Netherlands with more than 22,000 employees, has chosen Wolters Kluwer and SAS to provide a truly integrated finance, risk and regulatory reporting software solution. The implementation of the software is part of the bank’s major transformation project, the Finance and Risk Architecture Alignment Initiative (FRAAI), which is designed to better meet increasing requests internally as well as from regulatory bodies for ever more granular or different data within shorter time lines.

Better management of high-quality data and improved risk analytics are key pillars to meet the increasing need for control, intelligence and insight in the bank’s performance. At the same time the bank aims to optimize its IT maintenance costs, promote automation and increase the efficiency and agility of the finance and risk processes.

Together, Wolters Kluwer and SAS will provide the software component ABN AMRO needs to achieve these goals.

05 Mar

Why is this bubble far worse than the tech bubble of 2000?

Ah the good old days. Stocks up $25, $50, $100 more in a single day. Day trading was all the rage. Anyone and everyone you talked to had a story about how they had made a ton of money on such and such a stock. In an hour. Stock trading millionaires were being minted by the week, if not sooner.

You couldn’t go anywhere without people talking about the stock market. Everyone was in or knew someone who was in. There were hundreds of companies that were coming public and could easily be bought and sold. You just pick a stock and buy it. Then you pray it goes up. Which most days it did.

Then it ended. Slowly by surely the air came out of the bubble and the stock markets declined and declined till the air was completely gone. The good news was that some people were able to see it coming and get out. The bad is that others were able to get out, but at significant losses.

If we thought it was stupid to invest in public internet websites that had no chance of succeeding back then, it’s worse today.

In a bubble there is always someone with a “great” idea pitching an investor the dream of a billion dollar payout with a comparison to an existing success story. In the tech bubble it was Broadcast.com, AOL, Netscape, etc. Today it’s Uber, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

To the investor, it’s the hope of a huge payout. But there is one critical difference. Back then the companies the general public was investing in were public companies. They may have been horrible companies, but being public meant that investors had liquidity to sell their stocks.

The bubble today comes from private investors who are investing in apps and small tech companies.

Just like back then there were always people telling you their idea for a new website or about the public website they invested in, today people always have what essentially boils down to an app that they want you to invest in. But unlike back then when the dream of riches was from a public company, now it’s from a private company. And therein lies the rub.

People we used to call individual or small investors, are now called Angels. Angels. Why do they call them Angels? Maybe because they grant wishes?

According to some data I found, there are225k Angels in the US. Like the crazy days of the Internet boom, I wonder how many realize what they have gotten into.

But they are not alone.

For those who can’t figure out how to be Angels, you can sign up to be part of the new excitement called Equity Crowd Funding. Equity Crowd Funding allows you to join the masses to chase investments with as little as 5k dollars. Oh the possibilities!!

I have absolutely not doubt in my mind that most of these individual Angels and crowd funders are currently under water in their investments. Absolutely none. I say most. The percentage could be higher.


Because there is ZERO liquidity for any of those investments. None. Zero. Zip.

All those Angel investments in all those apps and startups. All that crowdfunded equity. All in search of their unicorn because the only real salvation right now is an exit or cash pay out from operations. The SEC made sure that there is no market for any of these companies to go public and create liquidity for their Angels. The market for sub 25mm dollar raises is effectively dead.DOA. Gone. Thanks SEC. And with the new Equity Crowd Funding rules yet to be finalized, there is no reason to believe that the SEC will be smart enough to create some form of liquidity for all those widows and orphans who will put their $5k into the dream only to realize they can’t get any cash back when they need money to fix their car.

So why is this bubble far worse than the tech bubble of 2000?

Because the only thing worse than a market with collapsing valuations is a market with no valuations and no liquidity.

If stock in a company is worth what somebody will pay for it, what is the stock of a company worth when there is no place to sell it?

02 Mar

American Banker Report – Customer Onboarding Problem

Between 5% and 15% of online applications are abandoned by small businesses because of the irritations of manual workflows and repetitive questions.

Banks are well aware of their shortcomings. According to the same October Aite report, more than 75% of large and midsize banks admit their current onboarding process is not up to speed.


01 Mar

The Brilliant Trick Steve Jobs Used to Win the iPhone Trademark

The iPhone trademark was held by Cisco. How Steve Jobs managed to take it away from Cisco’s hand?

At the time, Apple was a smaller company than Cisco, so Giancarlo knew that he had the upper hand in the negotiation. However, Steve Jobs had his reality distortion field. He called Giancarlo multiple times about getting the iPhone trademark. Giancarlo kept saying he wasn’t interested. Jobs kept persisting, often calling multiple times in a day.

He was fighting a war of attrition.

At one point he even called at 6:00 PM on Valentine’s Day and mentioned the famous line "Do you have email at home?" to try and get under Giancarlo’s skin.

He would mention how Cisco had technically already lost the right to the trademark because Cisco wasn’t using it. Giancarlo kept blowing him off, saying how he wasn’t interested in licensing it. As the launch date approached, Steve kept persisting, increasing how frequently he called. Eventually he said that Apple would go ahead with the launch, fight Cisco in court, etc.

After Apple launched the iPhone, Cisco filed a lawsuit, and this time the two sides’ lawyers and executives were forced to negotiate. The final deal terms were said to be that Apple would use Cisco’s equipment to update its networking in exchange for using the iPhone trademark.

This was a brilliant negotiation tactic because Apple would have used Cisco’s equipment when upgrading its networking infrastructure anyways. It was already using Cisco’s equipment. Maybe Jobs could have also threatened to switch to Juniper Networks instead, but it would have been a lose-lose situation. This made Giancarlo think that he was getting something substantial out of the deal when in reality Jobs pretty much got the iPhone trademark for free.

The Brilliant Trick Steve Jobs Used to Win the iPhone Trademark


26 Feb

Revolut – the fintech digital bank that can’t stop growing

Revolut – the fintech digital bank
$1.5 billion in transaction every month, 700 percent year over year growth, Revolut broke even in December 2017 for the first time ever, and now it can’t stop and won’t stop growing.

Revolut broke even in December, now has 1.5 million customers

4 hours ago

Fintech startup Revolut can’t stop and won’t stop growing. The company has had an amazing month of December with a huge increase in the total volume of transactions and signups. Because of that, Revolut broke even in December for the first time ever.

The company told me that it wasn’t just a lucky month and January is looking good as well. Revolut announced that it had reached a million registered users back in November. Three months later, Revolut now has 1.5 million customers.

On average, Revolut now manages to attract between 6,000 and 8,000 new users per day. While social networks or messaging apps would be reasonably happy with those numbers, it’s ridiculously high when you compare this growth rate with good old banks.

But the company is aware that it started off as a foreign exchange service. After signing up, you can top up your account using a debit card or a wire transfer. You can then exchange money into another currency and send it to a bank account. Revolut also sends you a debit card so that you can pay anywhere in the world with little exchange fees.

Revolut now wants to convert those happy travelers into daily activer users. The app provides a better experience than most banking apps, and you can enable and disable debit card features in just a few seconds. And of course, the company has been adding new features to handle nearly everything you need to replace your bank account.

You can now buy travel insurance, trade bitcoins, get a personal IBAN and open a credit line with your Revolut account. 350,000 users open Revolut every day. And the company has 800,000 monthly active users.

Revolut now manages around $1.5 billion in transaction every month — this number is up 700 percent year over year. And this number should increase as well as Revolut plans to launch in the U.S., Singapore and Australia later this year. India, Brazil, South Africa and the UAE should come later.

More importantly, margins are pretty thin for fintech startups. For instance, it took TransferWise six years to reach profitability(TransferWise reports a monthly volume of $2.1 billion/£1.5 billion).

Many people believed startups that are competing with retail banks would have a hard time making money — the big banks in London make money on trading and credit after all. So today’s news is an encouraging sign for the space.


25 Feb

Supply chain dashboard

Manage all the moving parts of your supply-chain with a real-time dashboard.

The only certainty about an efficient supply chain is that it won’t stay that way without careful management and data awareness. A supply chain dashboard provides you with at-a-glance awareness of the status of your inventory and supply chain operations so you can respond to challenges before they become problems.

Carrying Cost of Inventory – Measures how much it costs your organization to store inventory over a given period of time.

Inventory to Sales Ratio – Measures the ratio of in-stock items versus the amount of sales orders you are currently filling.

Order Status – Tracks the real-time status of all orders and categorizes them based on the action taken, such as “On Hold” or “Shipped.”

Inventory Turnover – Measures how often your organization is able to sell your entire inventory in a given year.

Units Per Transaction – Measures the average number of units purchased in each order to establish baselines and to compare that value to target values.

Inventory Accuracy – Compares inventory levels as recorded by bookkeepers to actual stock levels on the warehouse floor.

Rate of Return – Measures the rate at which shipped items are returned to you and categorizes them based on the reasons for return.

Back Order Rate – Measures how many orders are unable to be filled at the time a customer places them.

Perfect Order Rate – Measures how many orders you ship to customers without any incidents.


23 Feb

Chat Bot OCBC Bank first in Singapore to launch voice-powered banking

[Contact ABN Asia if you would like a similar app for your bank]

OCBC says it is the first bank in Singapore to offer its customers day-to-day banking and make cashless payments using their voices.

“How much money do I have in my bank account?”

“How much money do I have in my bank account?”

Accordingng to OCBC, its retail banking customers are now able to check their bank account balances, outstanding credit card balances and details, as well as make instant e-payments – using Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant.

The e-payments can be made to any bank account in Singapore, including accounts not linked to the PayNow service. PayNow is a nationwide peer-to-peer funds transfer service that enables funds transfers using mobile or national registration identity card (NRIC) numbers. In October last year, OCBC rolled out a similar service to business banking customers.

For example, customers can ask questions such as “Hey Siri, what’s my balance?”, or “How much money do I have in my bank account?”, or “What is my credit card spend?”. They can then authenticate the transaction with their fingerprint or facial recognition.

Aditya Gupta, OCBC Bank’s head of e-business Singapore, says the new service “brings us one huge leap closer to making natural language voice-activated banking and payments a reality”.

The bank also reminds people about its previous developments. This includes introducing biometric authentication to access account details with OneTouch in March 2015, an app for Apple Watch in March 2016; and OneLook in November 2017 – also on its app.