As per PwC’s 19th Annual Global CEO Survey, 81 per cent of banking CEOs are more concerned than any other industry sector about the speed of technological change. Consumers’ behaviours and expectations are also changing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s no secret that traditional banks need to adopt technology solutions quickly to digitise their physical processes. This is to serve their current customer base better and regain their market share against fintech competitors such as neo-banks online banks or Peer-to-Peer lending platforms.
These 21 startups below are blazing a path in innovating and supporting traditional banks’ digital transformation and expansion on all fronts.
Let’s look at how they are working with these financial institutions and heat the competition in the financial sector in Southeast Asia.
Founded in 2019 by Rick Firnando and Williem Williem, Verihubs helps Indonesian digital businesses authenticate their customers’ identities, check their backgrounds, and get access to their financial information.
While Verihubs’ solution is largely used in the banking and finance industries, it is also useful in e-commerce, rental markets, and hotels.
The company utilises AI-based identity authentication technologies and APIs to cut verification time from weeks to seconds, allowing businesses to continue authenticating returning customers via SMS, WhatsApp, or flash calls while still performing KYC checks.
Last month, the YC-backed startup bagged US$2.8 million in seed funding led by Insignia Venture Partners.
Started in 2015, BJTech is an Indonesian AI conversation platform aiming to improve customer service for SMEs.
Its first products are an intelligent banking app and a “virtual friend” that automatically does things for companies. It later developed an easy-to-use platform for businesses to create their chatbots.
Its smart chatbot service assists banking, insurance, and logistics companies in connecting, building relationships, and understanding their target customers. The bot is deployed across various messaging apps simultaneously to target a diverse audience demographic.
As noted on Crunchbase, the firm has raised a total of US$1.4 million in seed funding from three investors, including GDP Venture and Stellar Kapital.
Co-founded in 2015 by professors Dr Luan Huanbo, Dr Wang Chao, Prof Chua Tat-Seng, and Roger Yuen, 6Estates is a spin-off from NExT Research Centre, a joint research centre by the National University of Singapore and China’s Tsinghua University.
The AI-powered company specialises in finance back-office intelligence automation using unstructured data. It combines AI and RPA technologies to deliver an AI-powered process automation solution for trade finance, the credit assessment, audit and compliance.
In 2019, the startup collaborated with Indonesia’s Bank Central Asia to develop an AI and RPA solution for trade finance. In the same year, it received an undisclosed Series B funding round led by GDP Venture, with participation from Bank Central Asia through its VC arm named Central Capital Ventura.
Co-founded in 2016 and located in Singapore, Active.ai offers full-stack AI solutions for financial institutions. It provides machine learning, natural language processing, and natural language creation technologies, which could be used in messaging, speech, and IoT devices.
The firm supports clients in deploying products on-premise or in the cloud. It also offers a conversational banking platform to financial institutions.
Users may use the site to check their balances, see transactions, make payments, and obtain advice, among other things. The bot may be used on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Line, Telegram, or a custom platform. Wealth managers and financial services firms may also utilise the platform to connect with consumers.
In 2019, the startup called US$3 million in its extension of Series A funding, bringing the total amount to over US$11 million.
Built by Andy Li in 2017, Silot is a Singaporean startup that offers a suite of AI-enabled banking software and merchant banking services.
Merchant onboarding, KYC, cross-channel banking, account opening, and QR-based payments are among its offerings.
Silot’s current clients include leading banks in Southeast Asia, such as Nobu Bank (Lippo Group) in Indonesia and Krungsri Bank (Thailand).
In 2018, the startup raised “multi-million US dollars” in a pre-Series A funding round from Arbor Ventures and Eight Roads Ventures to support its expansion in Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and other markets in the region.
Created in 2015 by Peter Barcak, CredoLab provides credit evaluation and decisioning solutions for banks, consumer financing firms, telecommunications, insurers, and retailers.
The company analyses various data points from the smartphone device with its AI-based proprietary algorithm, transforming the digital footprint of consumers into predictive scorecards.
It creates bank-grade digital scorecards for banks, lenders, e-commerce, travel, ride-hailing, e-wallets, insurance, and retail businesses, as well as any other company that wants to make better credit choices.
In 2020, the Singapore-based company bagged a US$7 million in Series A investment led by GBG to expand in the US and other markets.
AntWorks was founded in 2015 to provide an operations processing automation platform called Robotic Process Automation (RPA). It targets to provide services ranging from AI-based data recognition to operational automation on a single platform. The platform reads data from non-standard format documents, which account for 90 per cent of all in-house papers, using fractal theory-based AI technology.
In 2018, the Singaporean startup took part in Season 2 of Bangkok Bank InnoHub and got the chance to collaborate with other members of the Bangkok Bank financial group and raise funds through the bank’s business networks. It raised a US$15 million Series A funding round from Japan’s SBI Holdings in the same year.
Pand.ai was created in 2016 to provide AI-powered chatbots to financial institutions in Southeast Asia. It provides conversational-based micro-learning and gamification to help clients increase marketing efficiency while improving financial adviser sales productivity.
The Singapore-based startup uses a natural language processing (NLP) engine to allow financial institutions to communicate digitally with customers.
Last year, Bualuang Ventures injected a 7-digit USD pre-Series A funding round into Panda.ai. It is also a member of Season 2 of Bangkok Bank InnoHub in 2018.
Founded in 2018, Growthbotics is a provider of a conversational AI solution for finance and banking. Client onboarding, fraud detection, anti-money laundering, stable coins for intra-banking and cross-border banking, and other services are among the company’s offerings.
Its features include client authentication based on facial and voice recognition, payment gateway integration, and bot-based chat assistance.
The Malaysia-based startup is powered by its own proprietary AI framework and uses Node.js, Python, Solidity as main programming languages.
10- Computer Vision
Established in 2020, Computer Vision (CVS) is a client identification and verification solution for fintech and banks based on sophisticated image processing technology.
The Vietnam-based CVS owns the feature of extracting information from photos to help banks automatically process customers’ records more quickly and systematically. In addition, the project also includes image-related solutions such as searching on a data set of millions of customer-related images for businesses, time attendance, face attendance, license plate recognition, and analysis of facial features.
In 2020, CVS raised a US$500,000 investment from NextTech Group and the Next100.tech fund to help the financial and banking industry embrace digital change.
Launched in 2018, akaBot is a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) platform that helps businesses automate their processes and save money.
akaBot merge AI and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to build complete smart automation solutions without intruding on the existing IT system. It can interface with corporate applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, SAP, and others.
The firm counts Vietnam’s most prominent banks such as Vietcombank, TPBank, BIDV among its clients.
Founded in 2014, FlowAccount is a cloud-based accounting service that helps freelancers, small business owners, and accountants in Thailand manage their accounting, payroll, and expenditure responsibilities all in one place. The startup claims its services are used by 50,000 clients and are connected with banks and e-commerce platforms.
Earlier this year, Thailand’s KBank provided its 1,000 SME clientele with the FlowAccount solution to help them function more effectively by keeping them up to speed on their financial situation regularly, controlling expenditures, and gaining better access to financing sources.
The company raised US$4 million in a Series A round led by Sequoia Capital India in 2021.
Launched in 2016, ThitsaWorks offers a banking software suite to microfinance institutions.
It provides business intelligence for visualisation tools that collect aggregated financial data, cloud-based core banking software for supporting digital banking and lending, and a financial bot for payback plans, among other services. To control risks, it also provides solutions for collecting, managing and analysing data.
In Myanmar, the fintech company says that its solutions are utilised by 70 financial institutions, including banks, non-bank financial institutions and microfinance institutions. Its services assist over 2.5 million borrowers.
In 2020, the startup landed undisclosed funding round from BOD Tech to offer digitisation solutions to Myanmar’s banks.
Dattabot co-founders Regi Wahyu and Imron Zuhri started HARA in 2014. The Indonesian company is a global and open blockchain-based data exchange that allows customers to make better data-driven decisions.
It helps alleviate rural poverty by creating jobs and empowering and educating women to become “agripreneurs.” HARA also works with banks and insurance firms to provide these farmers with financial services.
Its mission is to solve the invisible territory for banks and insurance. The company provides knowledge that assists banks and insurance firms get the data they need to calculate risks.
Co-founded by Jakob, COO Chiragh Kirpalani and CTO Adi Vora in 2016, Ayoconnect’s application programming interface (API) platform allows developers to easily offer a variety of white-label financial solutions to their consumers.
Ayoconnect combines financial data from several sources to enable its close partners to provide better, more inclusive financial services to millions of Indonesians.
Its clientele includes Bank BRI, Bank Mandiri, Permata Bank, DANA, Gopay, Shopee, Bukalapak, Lazada, Blibli and Akulaku. It has also partnered with several Indonesian banks to accelerate its open finance activities.
Earlier this year, the Indonesian startup snagged US$10 million in Pre-Series B funding from strategic investors to expand into Open Finance.
Founded in 2021 in collaboration with Bluecell Intelligence, a Singapore-based online financing solutions provider, STACS aims to help companies certify and monitor green and sustainability-related loans and bonds.
The startup allows loan and bond specifications to be encoded into security tokens. It interacts with data sources such as IoT devices and satellite photos to provide real-time impact reports on a distributed ledger. This helps to avoid “greenwashing,” when something is made to appear more ecologically friendly or sustainable than it actually is.
The firm counts Deutsche Bank, Bursa Malaysia, EFG Bank and Bluecell Intelligence among its clients.
In April, STACS raised a US$3.6 million Pre-Series A funding round led by Wavemaker Partners.
Bento, a Singapore-based digital wealth management solution provider, offers a hybrid B2B platform designed for banks, wealth managers, brokers, and insurance firms. It enables consumers to deploy digital wealth solutions at a cheap cost of entry and with a short time to market.
Its module may be used as a complete solution or only to meet a specific requirement.
In 2020, Grab acquired Bento to provide retail wealth solutions to millions of people in Southeast Asia.
Co-founded by Marshall Pribadi and his partner in 2016, PrivyID is a legally binding digital signature provider. The firm integrates its digital signature technology with online credit card application systems of six prominent consumer banks in Indonesia, including Bank Mandiri, BRI, BNI, BNI Syariah, CIMB Niaga, and Bank Mega.
The Indonesia-based firm stated that this partnership enhanced the online credit card application experience for over 50 thousand consumers within a year of its launch.
Flow was founded in 2016 by banker-turned-entrepreneur Borowski. The startup utilises AI and machine learning to create debtor profiles to help banks and non-banking lenders recover their non-performing loans through mediums such as automatically-generated SMS, interactive voice recordings and predictive dialling systems.
The firm launched its first operations in Vietnam in 2016 and has since expanded to Indonesia and India.
In 2020, the startup raised a round of debt capital from Genesis Alternative Ventures.
20- Liquidity Marketplace (LMX)
LMX was founded in 2016 by financial and technology experts from HSBC and Goldman Sachs.
The firm connects corporates, banks and non-bank financial firms via an all-to-all marketplace, where they can borrow and lend directly with each other by eliminating intermediaries. This helps clients achieve lower costs and higher yields while also bolstering risk controls.
In 2018, LMX raised US$1 million in seed funding, led by Javelin Startup-O Victory Fund, a partnership between Singapore-based online assessment and venture building platform Startup-O and Javelin Wealth Management.
Founded in 2016 in Singapore, Bank-Genie is a mobile-native software that enables banks and financial institutions to create virtual retail branches.
Using a mobile device such as a tablet, POS terminal or smartphone, these financial institutions will be able to offer services such as bill payments, insurance premium payments, and other bank account management services.
The startup secured an undisclosed Series A investment from SBI FMO Emerging Asia Financial Sector Fund (SBI-FMO Fund) in 2017.
Image Credit: Verihubs, AntWorks, FlowAccount, Ayoconnect
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