The Silicon Review
The advent of online industry has made a profound impact on the economic sector. There’s nothing in the world now that cannot be benefited from the ongoing digitalisation efforts. The recent advancement in the financial services sector is peer-to-peer lending, which is bustling not just across countries but also all over the globe. It’s stirring and it’s moving fast. As a new segment in the market, peer-to-peer lending platform is a fusion of technology, disruption and innovation that is designed to deliver an improved lending experience to firms thus positively impacting millions of borrowers across the world. This is where money makers meet technology makers to power up emerging and evolving business models in the market.
In the view of the above mentioned, we are thrilled to present you Crowd Genie Financial Services (CGFS), a peer-to-peer lending platform for small and medium sized businesses. It is one of the few platforms, licensed and regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore that provides debt financing to businesses looking for short-term funds to tide over their cash flow constraints.
CGFS: The Beginning of a new wave
CGFS is looking to become a cross-country regional platform for funding companies, using the Blockchain technology. Based on what CGFS found from its borrowers and lenders, the company feels that there are many companies around the South East Asian region which are under-funded and the funding they get from the traditional sources such as banks isn’t enough to meet their needs. In addition to that, lenders don’t have access to opportunities across countries especially if they don’t have access to expensive fund managers, and their capital is under-utilized. So on one hand, there is a demand from borrowers, while on the other, capital is immobile.
CGFS is building a blockchain based ecosystem that uses distributed ledger technology to enable faster and more efficient investing and tracking across countries, and utilize its token, CGC, to build an internal currency to enable all transactions. Along with this, CGFS is also building supporting structures, like an exchange to enable people to enter and exit from the Crowd Genie platform, custodial services, and regulatory licenses to make this seamless for all the ecosystem participants.
Akshay Mehra, CEO, Crowd Genie Financial Services, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.
What were the challenges that you had to go through in your initial years?
The biggest challenge was to get a strong team and model the credit environment of the industry. Our senior leadership – Bikash, Kunwar, Wai – are all veterans in their respective fields, who bring more than 100 man years of experience to the company. Moreover, we have built a credit appraisal algorithm, that we feel gives us a strong competitive advantage. The small and medium size borrower space is quite risky, and we have had to take the banks’ credit models, enhance it to cover for the unique borrower profile in the market, resulting in us having a default rate that is almost 50% lower than our going-in business model. Both of these have allowed us to give our lenders, a net yield of almost 12%, that too in a low-interest environment as Singapore, where the bank yields are less than 2%.
Between ever-changing network, system, and application needs, many IT leaders don’t know what they really have even when they think they do. How do you manage to resist/serve the needs of highly volatile market?
We have a road map that we keep, and revisit it time to time, based on market feedback. So for instance, our blockchain based platform is something that we started evaluating last year. And we took the ideas to a lot of our community to get feedback on what is important, and what is nice-to-have. That has helped us to stay focused, and also made us realize that it is better for us to reuse some elements rather than build it ourselves.
A tech company needs to be very agile with product and service innovation in order to withstand the competition. What is your approach towards innovation?
Blockchain (as opposed to Bitcoin) has the potential to make a disruptive change in a host of industries such as financial products, record keeping, and the government. For the outside world, blockchain is typically linked to Bitcoin, and as the price of Bitcoins has fallen, the doubts regarding blockchain too have increased. However, the two need to be separated; the idea that a decentralized method of validation (trust-less networks), can remove a lot of costs and opacity from a range of industries is incredible. To think that to verify the honesty of an intermediary, you just need to go a public source directory and verify, is something that will disrupt a whole host of industries, and costs.
Most of the tech companies invest more than a reasonable part of their profits in R&D, which sometimes is not a better option. What is your approach to keep your company standing?
We invest in customers and meaningful innovations, and are aggressive about outsourcing parts of our product. We have identified areas that are our core competences that we will develop and own, while there are others that we are very comfortable to outsource.
Customer service varies, but companies can still be successful. How do you maintain your customers’ trust and loyalty?
In our business, we have over-invested in making sure that our credit assessments, regulatory approvals, and customer yields are always best-in-class. At the end of the day, financial services, is about making sure all participants have the trust in the process that their funds are safe, the costs are reasonable and the risks they are taking are compensated for, fairly. We work to ensure that we continually build on these.
Knowing the Man behind the Plan
Akshay Mehra, CEO
With 15+ years of experience in new growth advisory, seed investing, operationalizing a startup, and business building, Akshay is a Certified Capital Markets and Financial Advisory Services by Monetary Authority of Singapore. He has a Master’s in Business Administration from Indian Institute of Management.