Joo Seng Wong, venture partner at Vickers Venture Partners, boasts a veteran-level financial career beginning in 1987, working mostly with commodities trading and exchange traded Futures and Options at United Overseas Bank. His breadth of experience spans roles at the Republic National Bank of New York, Singapore, which is now part of HSBC, Bank of New Zealand in Wellington, New Zealand and TLB Bullion and Futures, the derivative brokerage arm of Tat Lee Bank Singapore, acquired by OCBC in 2001. He joined G K Goh Holdings Ltd in 1998, where he was crucial in creating and developing G K Goh Financial Services (S) Private Ltd, growing it into one of the largest institutional Foreign Exchange trading houses in Asia.
Prior to joining Vickers Venture Partners, Joo Seng co-founded and was founding Chairman of Singapore-based fintech start-up M-DAQ Private Ltd. M-DAQ provides a sustainable ecosystem for securities and stock exchanges, enabling pricing and trading different currencies through their game-changing platforms by blending “executable“ FX rates into equities and future products. In 2015, Joo Seng led the company to a successful Series C funding round at a valuation of $250M – a figure that most FinTech startups dream of reaching..
Read on to find out Joo Seng’s take on the FinTech landscape at present, and what he expects to look out for in the near future.
FinTech platforms target specific verticals of bank(s) and generally aim to improve services for customers — this has been the case with payments, currency exchange, lending amongst others — what FinTech trends are you most excited to see this 2016?
Joo Seng takes a broad view of technology trends, identifying that amongst the key factors that determine how deeply penetrating a product or service will be is how widespread the technology is to enable access. In that regard, Joo Seng believes smartphones have successfully reached historically unprecendented rates of penetration and usage. This being said, he expects technology associated with mobile phones to have the greatest impact on users and consumers. He mentions specific examples of those that will be in the spotlight in the “not too distant future.”
- Mobile/e wallets
- Location or interest based Advertisements
- Banking Services driven off mobile cellphones
- Travel Services and money changing methods
- Technology to use cellphones to control smart homes
- Monitors for Security
- Reminders of appointments and important events (related services)
What components make for a good FinTech-Bank partnership? Or do you think FinTech firms should coordinate amongst themselves to offer a comprehensive offering?
Joo Seng wisely suggests that the best partnerships address real consumer needs, although those needs are more often not apparent; “For example, as far as the iPhone is concerned, the consumer was not acutely aware of the need for it when (Steve) Jobs first produced it at Apple. I doubt a market survey conducted amongst smartphone users would’ve resulted in a product spec’ed like an iPhone. The need to coordinate amongst FinTech firms to produce a comprehensive offering is self-regulating in my view. Let the market decide, as any attempt to influence it would be superfluous.”
What is the biggest disparity between what financial institutions say is important versus what they actually invest in?
Financial institutions look for disruptions that are not disruptive, Joo Seng asserts. Rather, they focus on changes that are easily do-able and that they can ease into and make available, while disruptions are almost never neat and tidy. He goes as far as saying that disruptions have raw edges that might deem entire sections of organizations “irrelevant”, and in the worse case scenario the organization itself.
What’s your take on FinTech? Disruptor or Enabler?
In Joo Seng’s words, “Both, of course. Not just “0 to 1” but also “1 to 2.” The principle is ‘better by being cheaper and faster.’”
Stay tuned to our Blog for the more Fintech Influencers to come next week!