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After working at Goldman Sachs, Naysan Munusamy immersed himself in the world of startups, juggling multiple roles as COO of PitchIN Equity Crowdfunding, and co-founder of MoneyMatch.

His role in PitchIN Equity Crowdfunding, has enabled the startup to claim both the highest amount raised on a reward crowdfunding platform and the highest number of supporters on a single project in a crowdfunding platform in South East Asia. PitchIN is building an equity crowdfunding investment platform to connect Malaysian ventures with investors.

MoneyMatch, on the other hand, aims to disrupt traditional financial services, starting with the currency exchange industry. It is revolutionizing financial services across Asia allowing customers to save money by putting currency exchanges directly in their hands enabled by blockchain technology.

Here are Naysan’s thoughts on the burgeoning FinTech landscape and where he sees exciting things happening in the space in Asia:

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?

Naysan is keen on seeing trends relevant to the verticals he is involved in, which would be lending for PitchIn, and currency exchange for Money Match. He argues it would be challenging for specific verticals to really make a tremendous impact on the financial world overnight. What is interesting however, is the lending space as it is the core of a bank’s function, and something that is seeing strong disruption. He cited Paypal founder Max Levchin, saying “No one is really tracking the hardcore problem posed by banks which is lending.” Levchin decided to launch a FinTech firm that would work on machine learning, where the systems developed would learn to trailor credit risk profiling to provide more flexible payment models for individuals, rather than the one-size-fits-all solution currently offered by incumbents. This is not without a huge capital expenditure though, considering the research of risk profiles of different individuals, he says. He ends his statement by saying that the reason banks have not innovated in credit is because they don’t need to.

What components make for a good FinTech-Bank partnership? Or do you think FinTech firms should coordinate amongst themselves to offer a comprehensive offering?

Naysan believes that there needs to be a clear differentiation between being complementary and being disruptive. If startups claim to be complementary, then they should be working with a bank. If they claim to be disruptive, then they should not work with banks. In mature markets it makes sense for startup services to be disruptive.
If a bank invests in a startup, it’s a different story and could be based on the bank’s particular business strategy. He poses us this question: “If I was a startup offering a disruptive service to the bank, how would it make sense if I work with one?
At the end of the day, based on business strategy of the fintech firm – Naysan believes that startups should decide on this position themselves.

What is the biggest disparity between what financial institutions say is important versus what they actually invest in?

From observation, a lot of traditional financial institutions are getting on the fad of supporting the FinTech startup scene, but might not care too much about the fad itself more than the bottomline, and whether the fad can lead the financial institutions to achieve their strategic and business objectives.
Naysan points out that lots of big banks have some kind of program for FinTech labs or accelerators but might be taking it as a branding or PR initiative, seeing as the startups he’s observed coming through FinTech labs do not look like they are partnering with their partner banks as non-lab related startups.
He notes that smaller banking groups in Malaysia, however, are actively looking for startups to work together, which makes it interesting as well in terms of how financial institutions view FinTech startups and the services they provide.

What’s your take on FinTech? Disruptor or Enabler?

Naysan sees FinTech as more of an enabler than disruptor in the South-East Asian context, due to regulatory prohibitions. He cites his experience with PitchIn – when they had to be licensed by Malaysian regulators before they could start operating.

What do you believe are the key advantages that FinTech firms like PitchIn bring to clients?

Being nimble, flexible, and having the ability to work with non legacy systems are factors that Naysan believes give FinTech startups a crucial step up over the larger players. This flexibility and adaptability is something he mentions that both consumers and regulators expect of startups.
Financial institutions, on the other hand, have to deal with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of sunken costs in technology and human resources, and need a lot of time in order to not just adopt, but restructure their operations to keep up with financial consumers’ expectations.

What are the main challenges you have experienced launching PitchIn?

Naysan shares his challenges in building awareness amongst the Malaysian public with limited resources – pointing out that traditional media is expensive, unscalable, but is a highly popular medium in a diverse country like Malaysia.
Beyond building a presence for PitchIn in traditional media with a feature in Malaysia’s Star Newspaper, Naysan highlights there is a need to be out there much more often in order to reach out to mass market users, and thereby grow as a startup.

Stay tuned to our Blog for the more Fintech Influencers to come next week!