Singapore-based fintech startup Fincy recently received US$11 million from parent company GBCI Ventures. Led by Douglas Gan, Vanessa Koh and Lim Ming Wang from GBCI Ventures, Fincy is the venture capital firm’s ambitious new endeavour that aims to provide an affordable alternative to existing financial services, starting with simplifying currency exchange via a multi-currency wallet.
Fincy, a money app, facilitates seamless and contactless currency exchange across Asia at the best possible rates and with transaction fees as low as 0%. Leveraging a secure financial infrastructure, its multi-currency wallet can hold balances in all major currencies, which users can then transfer to other users and transact with Fincy’s growing retail merchant network in Asia.
We recently spoke to the founders to understand more about their journey so far, goals, future plans and more.
Q. What led to the establishment of Fincy? What was the inspiration behind the startup? How did you guys come together to start this company?
Douglas: The idea of Fincy was born out of our frequent business travels, before the COVID-19 pandemic of course. Having to cross international borders holding onto various currencies as I travelled from one place to the other every 3-4 days saw us at the mercy of unfavourable exchange rates and fees, not to mention cumbersome processes. We needed a convenient and affordable solution that could provide fast, seamless transactions across borders, and that led to the birth of Fincy.
Vanessa: Our work together goes a long way back, beginning with the establishment of BCB Blockchain – which was created to make the likes of Matrix and ReadyPlayerOne a reality. To fully realise its potential, GBCI Ventures was founded to groom the smart cities and technologies of the future.
Since then, BCB Blockchain has been used as the underlying infrastructure for a smart city. A city’s residents, from the construction phase through to final inhabitants require financial access, from payroll, through remittances to payments and Fincy is the solution to this requirement. It delivers a contactless ecosystem that supports the financial needs of the city’s residents.
Q. What are your key goals with this startup?
Vanessa: We designed Fincy with affordability and convenience in mind. We want to give users full control over their money by stripping away the traditionally higher transaction and processing fees from exchanges, payments and transfers, regardless of volume.
Ming Wang: In other developing markets with less sophisticated financial infrastructure, Fincy is primed to serve the underbanked. Take Cambodia for example, where less than 40% of households have a bank account, we want to empower people with their own money.
Fincy is licensed by the National Bank of Cambodia to perform payment and exchanges. With the app, businesses and consumers in Cambodia will be able to transact digitally with ease and without incurring hefty administrative charges. As Cambodian population is generally young with the country boasting the largest number of youth in ASEAN, the needs of digital transactions will be growing in demand alongside the rise of smart devices adoption at a blistering pace with the younger generation.
Douglas: Ultimately, Fincy will grow with our users and develop anything that’s useful for them and grows our ecosystem. We are launching in Singapore with seamless currency swaps at the best possible rates, and Brand/Influencer Tokens to expand their existing loyalty program.
Q. What have been the biggest challenges and highlights so far?
Ming Wang: The Fincy journey has certainly been one big highlight on its own, coming a long way from being just an exchange platform! Having started from scratch in Cambodia, we have seen phenomenal growth within the market over the past year. We are also honoured to be able to support the residents of Yatai City as its exclusive financial infrastructure provider.
Douglas: The biggest and most exciting challenge would be strengthening our foothold in the competitive payments market. We don’t want Fincy to just be an exchange application, we want to bring more features to users within an ecosystem that empowers them as we progress towards digitalisation and globalisation.
Q. What are your plans with the new funds moving forward?
Vanessa: The funding will be used to accelerate our growth across Asia, starting with the expansion of our Singapore team. We are looking for 50 driven and talented individuals to fill a range of roles across disciplines. In addition, we have been investing in marketing and PR to drive awareness to attract new users looking for cost-effective currency exchange solutions, particularly at lower volumes. The funds will further be used to strengthen our capabilities in supporting a growing user base by expanding our data centre network across the region.
Q. What is your current clientele like? What is your user base like in Cambodia?
Ming Wang: We have a wide network of merchants across Asia, across retail, F&B and more. In Cambodia, we support users in excess of 300,000, more than 700 merchant partners, and over 40 companies with their payroll. We are very encouraged with the adoption rates that are growing on a daily basis.
Q. In a post-pandemic era, as “contactless” becomes the norm, how can Fincy help people in day to day lives?
Douglas: The pandemic has accelerated digital adoption across multiple verticals, most notably contactless payments. As cross-border travel is en route to resuming slowly but surely, people will think twice about changing cash as they prepare for their travels and begin looking towards affordable, multi-currency alternatives. Leveraging the new normal of a post-COVID-19 world, Fincy will enable not only contactless exchange and payments, but also a suite of digital transactions and services.
Q. What currencies can be exchanged on Fincy? How much does Fincy charge per transaction?
Vanessa: Fincy supports all major fiat currencies, including SGD, USD, CNY, NTD, NZD, KHR, PHP, MMK, VND, THB, MYR, IDRY and KIPY. Our transaction fees are below the market normal, and this helps to maximise the monetary value our users can receive through the currency swaps.
Q. Who should download Fincy? What markets is the Fincy app available in for download?
Douglas: That would be anyone and everyone looking to access affordable and seamless currency swaps, digital payments and more. We are available in multiple markets through various partners across the region, such as Singapore, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Q. Tell us about the community aspect of Fincy. How does that work and why do you think we need a social networking function in a financial app?
Ming Wang: With the pandemic, everyone has had to find new alternatives that meet their social needs without physical contact. Alongside the financial functionalities that Fincy offers, the app’s social networking feature has newfound importance in helping users remain connected with each other, even across borders.
For our merchants, the social networking function helps them build their own tight-knit communities to strengthen customer relationships and sustain brand loyalty. With Fincy’s integrated chat features, merchants can also independently fulfill orders and transactions from customers directly in the chat group.
Q. Tell us about the key features and functions of the Fincy app.
Vanessa: Fincy is your digital wallet that stores your money across multiple currencies. Users can conduct currency exchange through the QuickSwap function and have the currencies stored directly into their digital wallet ready for use.
To make payments, you can simply scan the merchant’s QR code in-app to process transactions immediately. Peer-to-peer transfers can also be done instantaneously in the app without going through excessive or cumbersome steps.
Q. Tell us about the technology behind Fincy.
Vanessa: Fincy is powered by BCB blockchain, an encrypted and tamper-proof network that enables the issuance and tracking of digital currencies and tokens. Fincy also leverages enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure to ensure maximum uptime, high performance, and strong security.