7 Fintechs in South East Asia That’s Making Financial Inclusion Its Mission

7 Fintechs in South East Asia That’s Making Financial Inclusion Its Mission

by May 29, 2020

Over 70% of adults in Southeast Asia currently lack sufficient access to financial services and millions of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the region still face large funding gaps.

The underbanked and unbanked is often overlooked by incumbent banks due to low margins, however, with the emergence of new technologies fintech startups are increasingly able to find a commercially viable model to provide the much-needed service to plug the gap in the market.

With fintech set to reinvent how consumers spend, save and invest across the region, we look today at seven startups that are bringing financial services to Southeast Asia’s unbanked populations.

Julo (Indonesia)

Established in 2016 and headquartered in Jakarta, Julo is a peer-to-peer (P2P) lending firm that provides unsecured consumer loans.

Julo uses a proprietary credit scoring technology that leverages machine learning (ML) and advanced credit analytics to assess the creditworthiness of the population that is often overlooked by conventional institutions.

Julo is driving financial inclusion across Indonesia by improving access to capital for the country’s large, youthful population, and has received accolades from the United Nations, Inclusive Fintech 50, and others.

As of the end of September 2019, Julo had disbursed about US$50 million. The startup raised US$15 million in a Series A funding round last year.

Saphron (Philippines)

Saphron is an insurtech startup that aims to make insurance accessible in Southeast Asia.

Based in Manila but headquartered in Singapore, Saphron helps companies drive financial inclusion and change by using cutting-edge technologies to bring to the market financial protection and assistance that’s accessible, ultra-convenient, easy to purchase, and simple to claim.

The company has developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered microinsurance platform called NAN.AI that allows microinsurance agents to enroll clients, monitor policies, and initiate claims—all in a fraction of the time and cost it takes for paper-based transactions.

It also offers Saphron Market, an online marketplace for “bite-sized,” on-demand protection and “insurance accessories.”

In March 2019, Saphron raised S$1.35 million in seed funding from fintech-focused VC fund Sage, and Talino Labs, a venture lab that supports companies engaged in digital transformation.

ZigWay (Myanmar)

Founded in 2016, ZigWay is a fintech social enterprise based in Yangon that provides flexible and affordable loans as well as subscriptions for everyday goods and services via a mobile application.

ZigWay, which focuses on “nano loans” of US$5–200, offers a fully automated borrowing process and allows low-income families in Myanmar to make daily repayments that match their earning power.

Those who cannot apply for loans through their mobile phone can meet face-to-face with a ZigWay “super-user,” or a smartphone-savvy member of the ZigWay community who can provide help with the process, including loan disbursement and repayment with mobile money.

ZiGway says it has issued about US$100,000 worth of loans and has secured partnerships with two major banks in Myanmar to scale its service across the country. The startup won third place in the ASEAN SME category at the 2019 SFF x SWITCH Fintech Awards.

Wing (Cambodia)

Launched in 2009, Wing is Cambodia’s leading mobile banking services provider. Committed to providing financial inclusion to the unbanked and underbanked, Wing gives every Cambodian access to services including local and international money transfers, bill payments and phone top-ups, online shopping and QR code payments.

Wing has a vast network of over 7,000 Wing Cash Xpress outlets, which perform a full set of services, including money transfer, phone top up, bill payment, Wing account creation, cash deposit and cash withdrawal, and loan repayment. The company also has partnerships with more than 30,000 merchants and global industry leaders including Mastercard, Western Union, MoneyGram, WorldRemit.

In addition to consumer services, Wing also provides payroll and disbursement services to small and medium enterprises and larger companies.

CredoLab (Singapore)

credolab singapore fintech hottest startups

Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Singapore, CredoLab develops bank-grade digital scorecards based on anonymous smartphone metadata.

Built on over 18 million datasets collected across 50+ lending partners in more than 19 countries, CredoLab’s AI algorithm is able to crunch over 1 million features from opt-in smartphone metadata to find behavioral patterns and convert them into credit scores.

CredoLab’s goal is to redefine the way creditworthiness is assessed by enabling decision makers to leverage mobile device metadata and tap into financially underserved populations including the unbanked as well as new-to-bank and new-to-credit (NTC) customers.

CredoLab has powered about US$1 billion worth of loans based on smartphone metadata, and was the winner in the ASEAN Open category of the 2019 SFF x SWITCH Fintech Awards.

In January 2020, CredoLab was officially recognized by the Financial Services Authority (OJK) as Indonesia’s first credit scoring fintech firm. This year, the startup plans to raise at least US$3 million in a Series A funding round to fund its global expansion plans as well as research and development (R&D).

MyCash Online (Malaysia)

MyCash Online

Founded in 2016, MyCash Online is a marketplace designed for migrants in Malaysia and Singapore. MyCash Online offers easy, secure, and convenient online services including bus ticket, air ticket and mobile top up purchases, international reload, bill payments, and mobile remittances, to foreign workers who typically do not have access to online banking or credit cards.

To use the service, users simply need to register with a valid ID via the website or mobile app. Once ID is verified and registration is confirmed, they receive a temporary password and PIN via SMS. Once they login, we just need to purchase vouchers from MyCash Online which they would then be using to buy services from the marketplace.

MyCash Online raised seed funding from 500 Startups last year and is now reportedly looking to raise Series A investment.

MyCash Online was first runner-up in the ASEAN Open category at the 2019 SFF x SWITCH Fintech Awards.

SmartNet (Vietnam)

Based in Ho Chi Minh City, SmartNet is the developer of SmartPay, a digital wallet service launched in May 2019 targeting the country’s large population of financially underserved consumers and businesses.

SmartPay offers fee-free instant money transfers, utility bills payments, QR code payments, jobs board, and more. Users can also apply for a loan through the mobile app.

Merchants and consumers can become part of SmartPay ecosystem by simply installing the app and passing the know-your-customer (KYC) procedure which implies providing a national ID or linking a bank card to their account.

As of September 2019, SmartPay had acquired over 200,000 users and 3,000 merchants across Vietnam.