Standard Chartered initiates two POCs with fintech startups

Credit: MIS ASIA

Credit: MIS ASIA

Two fintech startups under the second batch of the SuperCharger FinTech Accelerator have initiated Proof of Concept (POC) projects with Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong.

The first startup is Bambu, a business-to-business (B2B) robo-advisory company that builds intelligent software and investment solutions to improve the efficiency of wealth management.

The second is KYC Chain, which offers a platform that provides greater convenience and security to users of distributed ledger technology (also known as blockchain). The platform allows users to manage their digital identities securely while businesses and financial institutions are able to manage customer data in a reliable and easy manner.

Commenting on the achievement, Veronika Kuznetsova, SuperCharger's Managing Director, said: "Such an achievement highlights the effectiveness of SuperCharger as a sustainable model for facilitating dialogues between the decision makers of the financial industry and the forward-thinking techpreneurs from startups, which ultimately leads to the advancing of the fintech ecosystem in Asia."

SuperCharger FinTech Accelerator is a 12-week accelerator that aims to enable international growth stage companies to expand their operations within Asia. It is backed by Standard Chartered Bank and Fidelity International.

Fintech startups under the programme are given access to mentors to venture capitalists, government officials, as well as SuperCharger's 2,000 square feet co-working office.

"Standard Chartered Bank is proud to partner the Supercharger FinTech Accelerator Programme, which gives us the opportunity to team up with the brightest technology companies in our Asian footprint and to deliver the best service to our clients. We are delighted that the programme is taking place in Hong Kong, a key market for us, giving promising fintechs a springboard to the rest of Asia," saidShameek Kundu, Standard Chartered's Global Head of Data, Technology Strategy and Innovation.

SuperCharger FinTech Accelerator 3.0 will begin accepting applications in the summer of 2017.

Source: MIS Asia

Singapore to send delegation of 11 startups to TiEcon 2017 to strengthen ties with Silicon Valley

TiE Singapore is sending a delegation consisting of 11 startups and key players in the local ecosystem to attend this year’s TiEcon in Silicon Valley.

For the uninitiated, TiE or The Indus Entrepreneurs (the founders came from South Asia, hence the name) is a pioneering entrepreneurial organisation that began in 1992 with the aim of helping entrepreneurs build their companies.

Since then, it has grown to 61 chapters in 18 countries across five continents, and claims a membership base of over 12,000.

Some of its renowned past speakers include Reid Hoffman, Co-founder, LinkedIn, Drew Houston, Co-founder & CEO, Dropbox, Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo and Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft.

The Singapore delegation, TiE Singapore, led by Puneet Pushkarna, TiE Chairman and General Partner of Solmark Ventures, will aim to strengthen ties between Singapore startups and the Silicon Valley ecosystem. The 11 startups span across a range of verticals including data analytics, fintech, and sustainability. They are:

Advanced Ophthalmic Innovations

Advanced Ophthalmic Innovations (AOI) aims to tackle the world’s second leading cause of blindness Glaucoma — a condition that damages the eye’s nerve through a build-up of pressure in the eye — using a glaucoma drainage device that regulates intraocular pressure in the patient’s eye.

BigTapp

BigTapp is a SaaS company that delivers customer and business insights using big data and analytics.

billionBricks

billionBricks is a non-profit innovation studio that builds scalable and sustainable shelters and infrastructure for the homeless and victims displaced by disasters.

Ideatory

Ideatory’s product Impress.AI uses AI to help employers screen candidates.

Planar Investments

Planar Investments’s apps such as TrackWealth help clients track and manage their investment portfolios.

PolicyPal

PolicyPal is an insurtech statup. Its app uses a dashboard to display existing insurance coverage, payment and renewal dates. Consumers will also be able to check outstanding insurance payment amounts, as well as policy expiry and payment dates.

FOMO Pay

FOMO Pay provides the tools to help businesses integrate popular digital payment platforms such as WeChat Payments, Baidu Wallet, China UnionPay and PayPal.

O2O Technologies

O2O’s product Kristal is an AI-powered online asset management tool that allow traders to broadcast their money management skills and investors to match with traders that best suit their investment objectives

Hearti Lab

Hearti Lab is a HR management platform that allows HR managers to manage employee processes such as timesheets, payroll and claims, employee benefits, and health insurance programmes. It also provides a chat messenger and a mobile app to engage with employees.

Dathena Science

Dathena Science makes data governing more accurate and simplified using machine learning and AI.

Bambu

Bambu is a fintech startup that provides white label robo advisor solutions for financial institutions.

Selection process

These startups will be selected based on these four factors: innovativeness; utility (solving a real problem); global applicability (especially in the US; and ability to be value accretive. They will receive pitch training and business mentoring in Singapore before they exhibit at the conference.

Additionally, since TiEcon is supported under IE Singapore’s iMAP (International Marketing Activities Programme) — which is designed to help SMEs and start-ups gain market access through participation in international trade fairs and missions — these startups will have up to 70 per cent of their core expenses paid for.

At the conference, the 11 startups will not only be exhibiting but will also undergo a boot camp with accomplished Silicon Valley mentors and entrepreneurs in a small-group setting. Selected startups will also have the opportunity to present to a panel of investors.

Also Read: IoT is a US$6 trillion dollar industry, but is the term even accurate in 2017?

Joining the 11 startups will be key movers in Singapore’s ecosystem. They include Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Roy Teo, Director, Fintech & Innovation Group of MAS and Steve Leonard, Founding CEO, SGInnovate. These delegates will be speaking at the conference.

Source: Yahoo

The Demo Day That Closed With The Bell At The Hong Kong Stock Exchange

Photo credit: Oddup

Photo credit: Oddup

SuperCharger Fintech Accelerator 2.0 held their Demo Day yesterday at the Hong Kong Exchange Square, the home of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong since the 1980s. Around 500 guests attended to watch, 7 startups pitch. The batch’s 8th startup X Notes Alliance was absent. The Demo Day later ended with an emotional speech by Janos Barberis, founder of SuperCharger, and the loud ringing of a bell, signaling the closing of the day’s trade. Read more about the Accelerator and startups background information here.

Oddup has rated our top pick in this batch.

Bambu

Bambu was the winner of Best Early Stage Startup Award at Fintech Finals 2017 in Hong Kong in February. They are also Oddup’s top pick from SuperCharger 2.0.

Founded in 2016 by Ned Phillips, Bambu has built a range of applications for use by businesses seeking to offer their customers automated, technology-augmented investment services. The company’s B2B Robo Advisor offers companies, financial and consumer brands offers the ability to integrate and benefit from the shift in digital wealth.

Industry: Oddup notes that the demand for integrating robo advisor technology is huge as banks are tapping into the millennial generation, which heavily depends on technology and mobility. Any solution that can provide banks cost effective and efficient entry point into the world of digital wealth would be very welcomed.

Market: Bambu is riding on the right trend by being a player on the B2B, rather than the B2C space. In the B2C space, wealth management startups will find it very difficult to gain traction since the general public is risk adverse and the acceptance of fintech is still low. Until the public changes their mindset on fintech, Bambu need not compete in the B2C area where supply of similar startups is high and consumer demand is low.

Expansion: Going forward, the company can scale from a B2B business model and later to B2B2C as banks’ distribution partners. In Asia, where general public still trust and rely heavily on banks, Bambu’s B2B2C position can take advantage of their trust in banks, making its product acceptance higher. For now, the B2B approach was proved to be right as the company has already clinched two B2B contracts in the first 4 months after product was launched.

Synergy with SuperCharger: Needless to say, SuperCharger, as a Hong Kong-based Fintech accelerator, can definitely be a stepping stone for Bambu to open its reach to financial market. It is also quite obvious that Standard Chartered Bank, one of SuperCharger’s main strategic partners, can be one of Bambu’s potential clients. Came as no surprise, at the Demo Day held yesterday, we confirmed that Bambu has signed PoC with Standard Chartered, with the product to be developed in the next 3 months.

SuperCharger – Fintech Accelerator…

Janos Barberis, founder of the SuperCharger, ended the Demo Day with an emotional speech. Starting his journey 3 years ago through sending a tweet out to Huy Nguyen Trieu, CEO of the Disruptive Group, Janos initiated the accelerator idea in London, and brought it to Hong Kong with the vision of tapping into the growing demand in Asia. Since then, SuperCharger introduced over 38 POCs, pilots and contracts (and pipeline), held 16 workshops and helped fundraised USD 600K committed investments for 2.0 cohort, while 1.0 alumni raised USD 80 million since last year's Demo Day.

Now strategically located in Hong Kong, SuperCharger is the first FinTech accelerator program dedicated to both startup and more established tech companies aiming to capture the Asian growth market. The program leverages on Hong Kong’s traditional strength as Asia’s finance and technology gateway.

April 11, 2017 marks the iconic day of SuperCharger.

Once again, congratulations to Janos and the amazing SuperCharger team!

Source: Oddup

 

Singapore FinTech major to set up incubator in Vizag

Synergy:Special Chief Secretary and IT Adviser J.A. Chowdary and founder-chairman of Marvelstone Group Joe Cho after signing the MoU at the FinTech Spring Conference in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.C.V. SubrahmanyamC.V.Subrahmanyam 

Synergy:Special Chief Secretary and IT Adviser J.A. Chowdary and founder-chairman of Marvelstone Group Joe Cho after signing the MoU at the FinTech Spring Conference in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.C.V. SubrahmanyamC.V.Subrahmanyam 

IT Adviser to CM, Marvelstone Group chief formalise deal

Singapore’s Lattice80, considered one of the largest FinTech (financial technology) hubs in the world, has signed a MoU with the Andhra Pradesh government to set up an incubator in Visakhapatnam.

MoU copies were exchanged between Special Chief Secretary and IT Advisor to Chief Minister J.A. Chowdary and Marvelstone Group Founder Chairman Joe Cho here at the first day of two-day FinTech Spring Conference being organised by Vizag FinTech Valley.

Stating that the MoU was the right initiative to put Visakhapatnam on the world FinTech map, Mr. Chowdary said the government had created Vizag FinTech Valley as an independent entity to make it a prominent FinTech hub.

Two major events

He said they had decided to hold two major events — a global FinTech start-up summit on October 9 and 10 in the city on blockchain technology and another event on February 19 and 20 in 2018. At the latter event, $1 million challenge for global companies and Rs. 1 crore challenge for the Indian companies in the fintech sector are planned.

Mr. Chowdary said 150 companies, several of them from abroad, were participating in the FinTech challenge being organised as part of the Spring Conference. Prize money of Rs. 15 lakh is offered to the best entries offering solutions. They will also be provided free space for six months and mentoring at FinTech Tower in the city.

Fifteen MoUs would be signed by the AP Government involving several companies from within the country and abroad for fintech promotion.

“Lattice80 will not only start the incubator at Sunrise Incubation Hub but also agreed to offer their expertise in introducing various courses in fintech by the educational institutions,” Srinivasa Moorthy, CEO of AP Electronics and IT Agency, an autonomous body formed by the government to promote sector-specific investments, told The Hindu .

“We are very excited over our maiden visit to Visakhapatnam. It is a very clean and beautiful city and we are confident that the city has the potential to become a fintech hub,” Aki Ranin, CEO of Bambu, a B2B robo advisory startup based in Singapore, said.

Source: The Hindu

Wealth management goes digital with Bambu

The startup provides technology-augmented, algorithm-based portfolio management services.

Singapore’s rapid economic growth in recent years has led to robust demand for various wealth management services, particularly in the financial technology (fintech) sphere. However, most of these services were still not at par with the demands of customers and were not time-efficient, cost-efficient, universally accessible, or simple.

Bambu – a B2B (business to business) digital wealth management service firm providing automated, technology-augmented, and algorithm-based portfolio management services – was established just last year to address these issues, “offering financial and non-financial firms the ability to integrate and benefit from the shift in digital wealth.” Services include digital strategy and backend integration.

“Bambu provides an innovative, cost-effective, and efficient entry point into the world of investing and wealth management,” said Ned Phillips, Bambu’s founder and chief executive officer. “Based in Singapore and Hong Kong, we market our services Asia-wide,” he added.

According to Phillips, who has an extensive background in fintech in Asia, Bambu began in March 2016 as a prototype based on a similar robo-advisor in the region. “There was huge interest. It was clear there was demand for a B2B robo-advisor,” he said.

Together with Phillips, Aki Ranin also forms Bambu’s main leadership team as chief operating officer. They plan to aggressively build Bambu’s presence in Asia. Bambu will be expanding its team and business in Hong Kong, its second market after Singapore, and invest in research and development around future technologies. As of August 2016, Bambu has raised US$400,000 in funding from a seed round.

Source: Singapore Business Review

Will Robo advisors make finance more efficient?

robo-advisors.jpg

Source: Robert Half

Automation has arrived in the financial services sector and has even taken on the form of robo advisors – financial planning software that helps investors manage their portfolios and process investment data.

According to industry news portal FinTechnews, Robo-advisory firms have sprung up in Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore to cater to different niches of investors that may have been previously under-served by banks.

However, robo advisors have the potential to displace the jobs of traditional wealth managers. Are robo advisors the key to unlocking efficiency in Asia’s banking and finance sector, or could they be a looming threat to bankers?

Expands the industry’s user base

Before robo advisors arrived in the investment scene, wealth planning was traditionally seen as something only high net worth (HNW) investors could afford. A private banker can provide such a service to someone with at least US$1 million in investible assets while those with smaller amounts are relegated to buying the fund-of-the-day at the local bank branch.

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With its lower cost of operation, robo advisors have since opened up financial planning access to investors with lower net worth as the starting minimum balance is reduced and a larger range of investment structures are made available.

According to Ned Philips, CEO of Singaporean robo advisor Bambu, robo advisors expand the investment market by offering a larger range of financial products and markets access to investors, as well as allowing different amounts of investments to be made.

“These moves increase public exposure to financial products and portfolios, which then encourages people to invest digitally. I believe this democratises the investment industry,” Philips explained.

Robo advisors can also expand the industry’s overall assets under management as the current level is still just a fraction of available assets in the region.

Chandrima Das, CEO of bionic robo-advisory Bento says, “Most clients in Asia are sitting on cash and are not investing in capital markets. An advisor using robo technology will be able to engage client efficiently and gather more assets and therefore scale up their total asset base.”

Simplifies the investing process

Unlike traditional wealth planning where investors may need face-time with their financial planners, robo advisors’ tech-based interface allows investors to have one-tap access to their portfolios through the mobile phone or tablet. This improves user experiences on the consumer end and customer service efficiency on the service providers’ end.

Artur Luhaäär, CFO and co-founder of robo advisor Smartly, says that this new platform solves a huge gap between what customers want and what institutions are offering.

“I believe that today’s investors want a digital product that is easy-to-use, understandable and transparent in both their structure and their fees. Robo advisors help facilitate that,” he added.

On the industry front, Philips says that robo technology makes wealth managers’ lives easier: “Financial institutions can use robo advisory services to automate administrative investor data, which helps relationship managers focus on providing value-added services to their clients,” he said.

Das believes that robo advisors may even encourage more people to sign up as financial advisors as the focus goes “back to basics where the advisor in involved in engaging the clients.”

Creates new jobs and demand for new skills

Although robo advisors have the potential to displace the jobs of traditional wealth managers, they can also create a new range of jobs as finance industry trends.

Das predicts finance jobs requiring new skill sets to pop up in the industry. “For instance, robo advisors need investment analytic tools to assist in their operations, and ETF providers would also find themselves busy to support the ecosystem,” she explained.

Luhaäär agrees with the sentiment as well: “To me, robo advisors represent the movement towards quantitative, technology-powered investment solutions and products. Besides jobs involved in developing robo-advisory technology, there will be a need for new jobs in quantitative finance.”

As the digitisation of asset management inevitably involves large amounts of data analysis, quantitative analysts will be in demand by robo-advisory companies to make sense of clients’ investment data.

Not (yet) a perfect solution

While robo advisors have introduced much-needed innovation in the wealth planning process, there are some limitations given that it is still a developing technology.

  • Limited scope of financial planning. Although robo advisors help make investing more convenient for newer and non-traditional investors, they are unable to provide full-scale financial planning beyond portfolio management. Wealth management is more than just investing. It involves managing estates, taxes, insurance policies and other lifetime financial needs – areas that are not within the robo advisors’ current capabilities.  This means that the jobs of finance professionals who specialize in these ‘other’ areas of financial management will still be in demand in the market.
  • Not equipped to handle complex situations. Robo advisors are efficient at handling the mechanics of investing, but investment decisions are not just influenced by market trends and logic – they’re influenced by what goes on in investors’ lives as well. According to investment research resource Morningstar, it’s hard for computer algorithms to take major life situations into account when ‘advising’ investors. In these situations, investors need the benefit of human insight to come up with an appropriate financial plan, indicating the people aspect will remain of vital importance in the financial services industry.
  • They can’t prevent unwise financial decisions. Robo advisors run on algorithms that suggest investment strategies based on the data that their users key into their database. However, they cannot prevent investors from making poor investments and financial decisions outside of what has been keyed in, such as being a loan guarantor to unreliable borrowers or not having an emergency fund.
  •  

Robo advisors will still need humans

Robo advisors have helped expand the industry’s reach, simplify the investing process and create new jobs in digital banking and development. However, human insight is still necessary in financial planning, which makes a human-robo combination the more viable wealth planning strategy for the modern investor.

A Hong Kong-based investment banker that Robert Half spoke to supports the balanced viewpoint: “When wealth managers utilise robo capabilities, investors (ultimately) get better service. Robo advisors can help access databases and predict customised services for customers with artificial intelligence, while bankers get to handle more clients during busy periods. Those bankers with good problem-solving skillswill do well while those without should start developing these now.”

SuperCharger Startup Highlight: Interview with Ned Phillips, Founder and CEO of Bambu

by Seyoung Lee, Program Manager of SuperCharger

I sat down with Ned Phillips,Founder and CEO of Bambuto interview him as a part of our Startup Highlight Series for the 2017 SuperCharger 2.0 cohort. Ned has been based in Asia for the past 25 years, and has been working in FinTech since 1999.

Bambu is a B2B Robo-Advisor firm offering financial and non-financial firms the ability to integrate and benefit from the shift in digital wealth. They won the Best Early Stage Startup Stage Award at Next Money FinTech Finals 2017!

 

Q: Tell us a little about Bambu.

Bambu is a B2B robo-advisory solution partner offering digital wealth services to banks looking to provide their end users a financial tool to save and invest their money. We target financial institutions — asset managers, banks brokers; and non-financial institutions — telcos and eCommerce — to enable them to integrate and benefit from the shift in digital wealth.

 

Q: How did the idea of Bambu arise? What is your mission?

My 25 years in the Asian financial landscape provided me with an insightful exposure and development of the regional financial industry. From this, I realised that the biggest demand for robo was in the B2B space. That influenced me to start Bambu.

Bambu was founded to be Asia’s leading B2B robo-advisor. Our mission is to provide wealth management products to businesses that enable their customers to save and invest for their future. We believe every individual deserves the best financial advice irrespective of his or her personal wealth.

Q: People say robo-advisory is a crowded space. What are your thoughts about this?

I think they couldn’t be further from the truth. People talk about how crowded the robo-space is but when individuals are asked about owning a robo account, most don’t have.

According to statistics, about one percent of current markets in United States are already using robo-advisory. The term ‘robo-advisory’ could be a buzzword with people within the industry as they are constantly surrounded by it. However, beyond this circle, many are not familiar with the term or aware of this new technology. As an analogy, people like to say if the life of the earth is one year, then we humans have been on it for a mere two seconds. So I would say, if the life of the robo-advisory is a year, I would say we are in the first week of January. These are early times for this industry.

Q: Why would banks and other financial institution choose Bambu over building a robo in house?

To reap the advantage of time and money. Banks would have to invest a large amount of time and money in building their own in-house robo. Working with Bambu allows banks to leap frog over this hurdle as we will provide the establish technology platform at a shorter time frame.

Additionally, firms working with Bambu can also choose to start on smaller projects and evaluate the platform thereafter. The partnership allows them to consider the platform without a large initial investment of time and money. Banks will benefit from Bambu’s vast knowledge and expertise on fintech to move ahead in digital wealth.

Q: There are several robo-advisories. Why choose Bambu?

Bambu does not build a one-size-fits all product. Acknowledging every company has different needs and expectations, Bambu customizes its products to meet these differing needs.

Bambu has developed three different products for each segment — Intelligent Advisory, White-Label Robo and Robo-in-a-box. The Intelligent Advisory is a private banking app that enhances the relationship manager’s services, White-Label robo is a customizable goal-based platform for high net worth individuals and Robo-in-a-box is marketed at the retails firms.

Our team has a strong backbone in tech and finance; Aki Ranin, COO at Bambu, is a recognized authority in FinTech with more than 15 years of experience while I have over 25 years of experience in finance and was former MD for E*TRADE in Asia. Between us, Aki, me and the other team members, we hold expertise in technology engineering, design thinking and business development. Unlike most companies, we found a customer, built the platform and team and grew from there. So we started the unconventional way, which makes us kind of different.

Q: What’s in the pipeline for Bambu in 2017?

Future proofing Bambu.

1. This involves selling to a big non-financial consumer brand client.

2. Bambu has introduced a collaborative research program into applications of Deep Learning and Neural Networks in Finance. These tools have an incredible potential in simplifying and automating financial processes that are currently complicated and cost-prohibitive. Bambu’s dedicated research and development team offers over 50 years of experienced and are based across Australia, United Kingdom and Singapore.

3. We won Best Early Stage Startup Award at Next Money FinTech Finals 2017 in Hong Kong, and have a PhD student coming on board the team. This will set us apart and ahead of the competition.

4. By the end of year, we aim to have a team of 20 with a strong development team and a solid book of clients. In the near future, the number of FinTech startups will increase rapidly and we aim to be the leading robo firm.

Q: Any tips for other FinTech start-up founders?

1. Perseverance is the key. Sell more than you are currently. You have to continuously sell your products. Its about doing hundreds if not thousands of meetings, having a large pipeline of clients and following up with all of them.

The romantic notion of start-ups is “so great, fun, fluffy and wonderful, we are going to change the world”. The reality is, it takes a lot time to gets deals, and it’s hard. If you nail it, everything will fall into place.

2. Build a product that you truly believe in. So when Steve jobs was asked, “how do you know what to build, how do you know what people want?” He replied, “people don’t know what they want until I build it”. None of us are as good as that, so we have to get the market’s perspective repeatedly. You need to test and question your product by everyone, get feedbacks on improvements, fix it and repeat.

3. One major reason startups fail is due to lack of money. Manage your finances well and keep track of expenditure.

Q: Do you have any last words?

SuperCharger has built an accelerating environment that pushes the finalists to grow through demo presentations, workshops, events and more. Your encouragement and perseverance enables each team to strive in their expertise. Because of SuperCharger, Bambu is progressively maturing since the start of the program and for that, we thank you.

To get in touch with Bambu, please email info@bambu.life

Email the writer: seyoung@fintech.hk

Asian B2B Robo-Advisor Bambu Updates on One Year Anniversary

Bambu, the Singapore-based Robo-Advisory platform, has provided an update on their one year anniversary.

Bambu is a Fintech firm that provides a white label platform for investment managers to provide a robust array of online advisory services for desktops and mobile devices.

During the first year of operation, Bambu has generated revenue of USD $350,000 while successfully raising USD $400,000 in seed funding, Bambu has also launched Singapore’s first digital platform with Crossbridge Capital. It was also selected as one of the top 8 firms to partake in SuperCharger 2.0 Accelerator program based in Hong Kong. Bambu won the Best Early Stage Startup Award at Fintech Finals 2017 and has opened an office in Hong Kong to better serve the fast-growing Asian Fintech market.

“It’s the beginning of the journey for Bambu and I am so thankful to the people who have believed in me; the team members of Bambu who have joined me, the investors who have backed us and the clients who gave their trust and money to a start-up business. We won’t let any of them down and will continue to push as hard as we can to make this an increasingly successful business”, commented Ned Phillips, CEO and founder of Bambu.

Bambu has recently announced a collaborative program into applications of “Deep Learning and Neural Networks” in finance. Bambu believes these tools will have immense potential in simplifying and automating financial processes, that are currently complicated and cost-prohibitive.

“With our range of skills across finance, tech, wealth, and neural networks, we plan to lead the charge in Asia by providing our customers with the best technology and products that we can offer”, said Ned.

Asia is the fastest growing region in regards to Fintech utilization. Singapore has positioned itself as the leading hub for Fintech innovation in Asia.

 

Source: Crowdfund Insider

Automating Wealth Management in Southeast Asia

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Can you trust a robot to give you financial advice?

Bambu, a B2B start-up headquartered out of Singapore, offers digital wealth management services through “robo-advisory.”

According to COO Aki Ranin, the term “robo-advisory” originated in the United States, where it was first used by online investment platforms, such as Betterment and Wealthfront. Robo-advisories offer wealth and portfolio management services, largely through financial advice based on algorithms.  

Bambu targets financial institutions across Asia, with the goal of helping its clients’ customers invest their money wisely. The user journey to help this demographic cleaves around four stages: awareness, trust, commitment, and engagement.

 

Helping people achieve financial goals

While the concept of robo-advisories may still be relatively new, Ranin wants to expand their scope.

“Existing platforms tend to focus on existing investors, which is a rather narrow definition. Our mission is to make wealth accessible to all, from spenders to savers to investors. With our goal-based investing framework, we want to help people plan for and ultimately achieve their financial goals,” he says.

Ranin singled out trust and engagement as the two most important stages in the Bambu user journey.

“Since we are ultimately asking people to hand over their life savings to our platform, we cannot overestimate the importance of building trust in the platform, products, fees, and investment strategies,” he says.

Further, Ranin explained that robo-advisories are often set-it-and-forget-it websites, built around gaining a single lump-sum transaction from new users. Bambu, in contrast, wants its users to come back again and again.  

“Our focus is on goal-based investing, which means the often multi-year journey towards reaching those goals is shared between the user and our platform,” he says.

 

The future of Bambu and robo-advisories

Of course, for financial institutions who have little to no experience with robo-advisories, all of this can seem daunting, however ideal it may sound. Ranin said the most common objection to Bambu is the internal complexity of launching a robo-advisory platform, which can be quite disruptive to existing business models.

In these instances, Bambu is willing to start from square one. “To facilitate those internal conversations, we always propose to begin with a proof-of-concept project, that allows us to collaborate on the correct strategies,” he says.

Still, despite the occasional objection, Ranin says their biggest problem has been the opposite one: They have too much demand, with inquiries coming in from as far as Canada and New Zealand.

“There are so many things we could be focusing on, between various customer requirements to our partnerships, as well as different wealth segments, target markets, and industries. We keep our feet lightly on the ground, constantly adjusting our focus towards the highest opportunity,” he says, adding that given the pace of the industry, agility will be key to remaining relevant over time.

 

 

Non-financial companies entering the fintech space

In the long-term, Ranin also sees potential in non-financial companies entering the financial products space, such as telecom providers, e-commerce platforms, and social media giants. For now, the company has largely focused its efforts on Singapore and Hong Kong, due to the limited amount of legwork they can do in other Southeast Asian countries. As a result, he cited “focus and delivery” as one of the biggest challenges when it came to building a regional solution.

Bambu is augmenting its capability by partnering with Thomson Reuters and DriveWealth, in addition to its usual marketing and networking activities, which have already brought the company great exposure. The company is focused on increasing its customer base in Singapore and Hong Kong and closing its Series A by the end of March.

For other start-ups in Southeast Asia who may also want to go into financial technology, Ranin encourages them to think carefully about their business model.

“If you’re B2C, think about customer acquisition cost before anything else. If you can’t solve it, go B2B. Before you build anything, find at least one customer first and let them decide what to build. That way you’re guaranteed some level of product/market fit,” he says.

 

Article source: http://inc-asean.com/technology/automating-wealth-management-in-southeast-asia/

Ayannah, DarcMatter, BIMA & Bambu Win Awards at Next Money Fintech Finals 2017

Photocredit: Next Money

Photocredit: Next Money

Singapore-based fintech startup Bambu was the winner of the Best Early Stage Startup Award at Fintech Finals 2017 in Hong Kong last month. Other highlights from the Fintech Finals 2017 included Ayannah winning the overall title, Best in Show, while DarcMatter won for Best Growth Stage and BIMA for Best Mature Stage.

Fintech Finals, an Asian Fintech conference and showcase, is organized by Next Money and sponsored by VISA. The award is presented to winners with business robustness, transformative innovation, responsive customer experience, financial forecasts and overall presentation. The overview: over 200 applications were submitted, 100 start-ups competed in semi-finals and Bambu made it to top 24. The finalists flew in to pitch their ideas and transformation methods for the winning title via a 6-minute pitch to judges and live audiences. Ned Phillips, Founder and CEO of Bambu, delivered the winning pitch among 13 other firms competing for that category.

“FinTech is in an incredibly exciting growth stage right now with many firms competing to build a successful business,” commented Phillips.  To be recognised as a stand out firm in such an environment is a great motivator to keep us building on the journey we are on. A massive thanks to Next Money, Visa and all the start ups that entered for making the FinTech Finals the great success it was.”

Offering digital wealth services to all companies, financial and consumer brands, looking to tap into the rapid change of financial technology, B2B Robo Advisor Bambu was founded in February 2016 in Singapore and currently serves the Asian market.

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Credit: HK Economic Times

Credit: HK Economic Times

English translation

Bambu is depicted as an artificial intelligence consultancy platform which provides wealth management consultancy services to business customers. Bambu was crowned as the "Best Early Stage Startup" in Fintech Final 2017 held in Hong Kong, marking its glorious entry into Hong Kong.

Currently Bambu mainly offers AI products to private banks, retail banks, insurance companies telecommunications agencies to help analyse investment plans and assess risks involved, however, it does not entirely replace wealth management experts since professionals are still essential in closely following up with customers and meeting their investment objectives.

Founder and CEO Ned Phillips exerts paramount significance in promotional strategies. He thinks marketing and sales talents with groundbreaking ideas are harder to locate than technical staff, yet he is confident that he can reach out to an abundant pool of capable candidates in Hong Kong.

According to Ned, Bambu gained 2.17 million HKD profit last year and they are now discussing collaboration details with various financial institutions. With the plan of expanding their business to Hong Kong, Japan and Indonesia, he will first open an office in Hong Kong in January.

Ned sees greater development opportunities in Hong Kong comparing to Singapore, with easier access to North China as well as the overseas market.

The role of AI consultancy in financial organizations will be more prominent in the coming future, thus it will cause changes in operation services, costs and product controll. Digitalization will both lower the cost of customer management and increase customer base at the same time.

App chat: One-on-one with Bambu's CEO

Private banking mobile and tablet apps are being rolled out in Asia with increasing frequency as banks pour more resources into their digital strategies. Asia Private Banker speaks to Ned Phillips, the CEO and founder of fintech startup, Bambu, about his views on private banks' front office offerings and the decisions behind his firm's recently launched portfolio management app. 

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“More and more of these platforms are able to offer portfolios whether you have $10, $100 or a million dollars, so that’s the biggest change in consumer behaviour that we are going to see.”

Channel News Asia caught up with Ned Phillips to find out how robo advisory platforms are emerging in the industry. "We see a significant growth targeting millennial," says Ned Phillips.