Monexo Placed in Hong Kong Fintech Programme04 August, 2015
A peer-to-peer forex platform and a UK-based LinkedIn-style investor relations service are among the 10 start-ups that have won places on a new fintech accelerator launched in Hong Kong, as Asia's financial technology scene continues to gain momentum.
The accelerator, which was set up on August 4 by the Hong Kong arm of Singapore’s DBS Bank and Hong Kong-based incubator Nest, aims to find new companies looking to shape the future of banking and finance.
Participants in the programme include: Monexo, a peer-to-peer marketplace for lenders and borrowers; Closir, a UK-based investor relations start-up that styles itself on LinkedIn; and Currenxie, a foreign exchange platform based in Hong Kong that uses peer-to-peer technology.
Michael Chojnacki, co-founder and chief executive of Closir, said Asia was a growing force in the fintech community. "Asia presents vast opportunities to any fintech startup with global plans,” he said. “However more emphasis is required on relationships and on local know-how. So the earlier we can start building those, the better.”
Closir is also participating in a programme in New York, and in 2014 was one of the start-ups in a London-based accelerator hosted by French software company Dassault Systèmes, giving the UK firm a presence in the three main global hubs for finance.
The companies will be mentored by executives from the Hong Kong arm of DBS and senior Nest executives, as well as other partners.
The programme, which will be housed in a newly renovated, 5,000-square foot workspace in Hong Kong’s commercial hub of Wan Chai, will conclude with demo days where participants could attract financial backing.
The programme is the latest sign of fintech activity gathering pace in Asia. In April, the Startupbootcamp FinTech accelerator picked 10 companies to participate in its debut programme in Singapore. Sponsors and partners for that programme also included DBS.
In September 2014, consultancy Accenture hosted an accelerator programme for start-ups in Hong Kong that was also backed by companies including DBS, UBS, JP Morgan and Ping An.
David Lynch, a managing director and head of technology and operations for Hong Kong and mainland China at DBS Bank Hong Kong, said conditions to launch the programme were ideal.
He said: "From the Hong Kong perspective, fintech and innovation are on the government agenda. Access to capital is improving. Banks themselves are facing rising regulatory complexity and, at the same time, evolving consumer demands.
"Arbitrage opportunities are shrinking, especially as China further liberalises policies. On the start-up front, it has never been so easy as it is today to launch a business and have the ability to scale it globally. Mobile and cloud solutions are creating that capability."
While Asia's fintech scene is gaining momentum, concerns are mounting about the potential impact of new internet finance rules proposed by China's central bank on July 31. The draft rules would set daily transaction limits on internet money transfers and strengthen documentation requirements for clients.
Here are the 10 companies selected from 140 applicants for the Hong Kong programme:
Apvera The Singapore-based start-up makes software that helps companies to anticipate and prevent future security breaches by identifying irregularities in usage behaviour
Closir A UK-based start-up that provides a similar service as LinkedIn for the investor relations community
Creditable A South Africa-based company that enables credit unions, lenders, businesses and individuals to provide loans to customers, employees and suppliers within minutes
Currenxie A peer-to-peer foreign exchange platform based in Hong Kong that offers same-day, spot and forward forex services
Dollar$mart Based in Thailand, Dollar$mart provides online and mobile international money transfer services for individuals and businesses
Fund Innovation A Hong Kong-based company that provides automated and consolidated balance sheet reporting services to wealth management firms, family offices, trusts and ultra high net worth individuals
Monexo Monexo describes itself as Hong Kong's first online peer-to-peer marketplace for lenders and borrowers
Super Fluid A Kenya-based company that offers consumers and businesses analytics and product recommendations using data from emerging markets
Tofu Pay A Hong Kong-based payment processor that helps merchants in Asia to process credit card payments in different currencies without the need to set up a merchant bank account
Xfers A Singapore-based business that allows people to send money to phone numbers or bank accounts
Author: Alec Macfarlane and Anna Irrera – Financial News