The Hottest Digital Bank in Vietnam Just got Funding and a new Partnerby Fintechnews Singapore March 30, 2017
Sun Life Vietnam Insurance Company Ltd. has entered into a 3-year partnership with Global Online Financial Solutions Ltd., the owner of Vietnam’s digital banking platform Timo. The partnership enables Timo to offer life and health insurance products and provide its customers access to Sun Life’s network of professional through the Timo mobile app. It follows Sun Life’s 25% stake acquisition in Crescent Asia, the holding company of Global Online Financial Solutions.
“This partnership marks an evolution for Timo into a more robust financial management platform,” said Don Lam, founder of Timo.
“Our vision from day one has been to find the best digital solutions for our Timo members. This is why we have partnered with Sun Life Vietnam. Our combined dedication to our customers is a winning formula that will bring financial inclusion and management to everyone that is looking for easy access to their money and effortless management of their financial well-being.”
For Sun Life Vietnam, the deal with Timo allows the insurer to expand its breadth of distribution channels in Vietnam by offering its products through a fast and convenient digital platform.
This “reinforces our strategy of growing our business in Asia through distribution excellence,” said Kevin Strain, president of Sun Life Financial Asia.
Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a wide range of insurance, wealth and asset management solutions to individuals and corporate clients.
The firm has operations in a number of markets worldwide including the US, the UK, Ireland, Hong Kong, Japan and the Philippines. As of December 31, 2016, Sun Life Financial had total assets under management of US$903 billion.
Larry Madge, CEO of Sun Life Vietnam, said:
“Through technology, the partnership with Timo will increase our foothold in Vietnam and bring us closer to our local communities.”
Powered by VP Bank, Timo is first and foremost a digital banking platform that applies modern technology to simplify the processes and procedures of banking services.
It provides a comprehensive set of tools supporting customers’ financial needs, bringing modern banking services to the Vietnamese market, in addition to lower banking fees.
Timo offers saving accounts, term deposit accounts, as well as a MasterCard credit card with 0% foreign exchange fee.
Timo’s March mobile app upgrade includes several new features and solutions including the Payment Requests feature, as well as additional wealth and insurance products provided by Sun Life.
In December 2016, Timo introduced a new Facebook chat bot, a digital assistant that is available 24/7 to answer any question from users.
Timo first launched in Ho Chi Minh City in 2016. Less than one year after launch, Timo had signed up some 44,000 members, a growth rate higher than industry benchmarks. The company plans to further expand its banking platform into Southeast Asia. In November 2016, Timo officially launched in Hanoi.
Exclusive Interview with Claude Spiese, CEO Timo
– Congratulations Claude, how hard was it go get funding?
Getting interest in Timo was not hard, but passing the thorough due diligence of an large, established, reputable financial institution like Sun Life is of course no simple matter. At the end of the day, it was strategic alignment, plus our track record, that convinced Sun Life to invest and partner.
– Can we call Timo now also an Insurtech company?
Sure. I prefer to call Timo a digital lifestyle platform for financial services, with digital banking at our core, but we are definitely innovating in Insurtech, which is also one of the reasons Sun Life invested and partnered with us.
Hanoi Loves Timo
– You recently gave keynote speeches in Singapore and Jakarta. What was the feedback you got for your business model?
Timo generated a lot of excitement at the conferences. The attendees, a lot of really smart people in leading positions in the industry, were attracted to our focus, our dynamism, and our track record so far.
– Which (new) functions do Timo Users like most?
It’s really the totality of the Timo experience which customers like. No matter what you do with Timo, it’s simple, smart, sexy, secure, and human. New functions? Timo MasterCard customers really like the way they can track expenditures and pay off the balance so easily.
First Double the Numbers , then Indonesia or Philippines
– Can you tell me the average age of a Timo customer?
Average age is in the mid twenties. Our youngest customer is the youngest age allowable, and our oldest customer is over 70.
– You recently opened a Timo Hangout in Hanoi. What was the feedback you got?
I lived 12 years in HCM City, and 7 years in Hanoi, so I wasn’t surprised to hear Hanoians love Timo, and they deposit on average more than Saigonese!
– What does the company plan to accomplish in the year to come?
Double the number of Timo customers, and offer them even more cool financial products like the ability to pay anyone, and the ability to overdraw your spend account, the ability to purchase insurance instantly…
– Which country next to Vietnam is interesting for you?
We still have a lot of work to do in Vietnam, but if and when we decide to expand regionally, then Philippines and Indonesia look very interesting because of market size, high mobile internet penetration, but low digital banking usage.
– How you see the future of Fintech in Vietnam?
Fintech in Vietnam has so much potential, but start-ups have to be realistic. You are not going to conquer the world. You need to understand the market, the regulators, and the established players, and then build your business to match the trends, not try to change the trends.