An Overview of the APAC Fintech Innovation Lab from CEO, Dan Schleifer
We were accepted in to Accenture’s FinTech Innovation Lab, which is a unique accelerator program, designed specifically for financial technology companies focused on institutional capital markets. For us, it was incredible validation of the technology we’ve built, but more importantly, an opportunity to dive in and understand the use cases specific to the institutional market.In later blog posts, I’ll focus on some of those use cases, but for now, I wanted to highlight the innovation coming from the seven other startups selected for the program. We’re almost halfway through the 12-week program, and I’ve gotten to know these companies quite well.
Privé Managers – While robo-advising is making its mark on the retail investment management space, Privé is taking a unique approach to high-end wealth management. They’ve built a modular system that uses modern technology (including robo approaches) to supplement the traditional wealth manager. They call the concept “bionic advisory” – the best of the human and robo worlds. Honestly, I like this approach a lot – I don’t think the high net worth market is ready for (or may ever be ready for) pure robo, so the hybrid play makes perfect sense.
TNG Wallet – Of all of the lab participants, TNG is the only one that’s retail-focused. They’ve built a mobile e-wallet that does everything from payments (web, app, or brick and mortar retail) to bill pay, peer-to-peer money transfer, and even cash withdrawal. I’m a bit old-fashioned myself (I carry cash…), but having tried a couple of the single-purpose apps in the US, such as Square Cash for peer-to-peer payments, the idea of an integrated e-wallet is very appealing. They’ve added over 370,000 active users in Hong Kong since they launched last Nov!
Siork (pronounced “shark”) – These guys have taken a really interesting approach to anti-money laundering (AML) and fraudulent transaction detection, by focusing on a weakness of traditional systems – an inability to understand Chinese. AML systems use natural language processing and fuzzy matching techniques to spot problems, but they’re all based on the Latin character set, which requires converting Chinese ideographs to pinyin. Unfortunately, it’s not a 1:1 mapping between the ideographs to pinyin, so it’s fraught with false positives. Siork has built Chinese fuzzy matching which directly matches the ideographs.
HedgeSPA - This US and Singaporean team, led by two PhDs have built a proprietary predictive analytics platform that allows portfolio managers to handle asset selection, portfolio construction, scenario-based stress tests, and all sorts of other complex analytical functions. Unlike similar platforms (the co-founder previously built Blackrock’s own system), this one is open to asset managers regardless of who they execute through.
Sereene – This one is particularly interesting, because they solve a more general IT problem, and are in the lab to work on tailoring it for financial use cases. In short, Sereene analyzes huge software projects (in just about any language) and provides visualizations of the structure of the software, highlighting the most complicated, and time-consuming portions. This allows management to focus efforts on the right portions of the application, apparently reducing software development costs by up to 30%.
KYC-Chain – As the name implies, KYC-Chain’s goals it to create a shared utility for banks to verify know-your-customer (KYC) documents. Previous attempts to created a shared KYC infrastructure have always been vendor-driven, trying to use a central database (that the banks would pay for access to). KYC-Chain’s approach is to make it an open infrastructure, and then monetize by making available commercial tools to speed up implementation and workflow within each member bank.
Lattice Limited – Lattice is solving an interesting problem for portfolio managers of all sorts: existing optimization tools are based on applying constraints to the portfolio (limit exposure to X country, Y asset class, Z currency, etc), which by definition will reduce performance. Lattice has created a technology called View to Portfolio (V2P) that actually takes the manager’s investment thesis as the input, and iteratively improves the portfolio to better express that thesis in the market.
That’s it for now from Hong Kong. More updates coming soon.