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April 13, 2015

10 fintech start-ups shaking up Asian banking

Newcomers are disrupting the industry with bitcoins and peer-to-peer lending.

By Jimmy Nicholls

Fintech is becoming ever more important for the banking sector, disrupting everything from payments (think Bitcoin) to capital markets (think Flash Boys).

As such investors are constantly on the lookout for interesting start-ups capable of creating the next wave of innovation that will shake up the financial industry.

A recent contest in Singapore known as the Startupbootcamp is seeking to fill just this market. Announced on Monday, the ten finalists will be offered guidance on how to bring their company to market and achieve the sale necessary to turn a profit (or not, in the case of the nonprofit).

That in mind, here’s what you need to know about the bleeding edge of fintech in Singapore:

1. Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is more important to finance than most other industries – after all why would you leave your money in a place you believe is unsafe?

Combined with the growing adoption of online banking this has created an opportunity for the folks at BankGuard, a cybersecurity firm that hopes to defend banks and their customers from hackers.

Its first release is the so-called Super Matrix, a system that aims to prevent illegal access to bank accounts, fraudulent authentication and man-in-the-middle attacks in which hackers eavesdrop on their victims to steal their login details.

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2. Wealth Management

The Internet has brought trading closer to the masses than ever before, eliminating the middle men who used to control the industry.

As such people are becoming increasingly interested in conducting wealth management from their phones. Bw8 Trading’s sTrader app, available on iOS, is designed to facilitate this, allowing you to place orders from your smartphone as well as check Reuters for financial news.

Those on the professional side of wealth management can meanwhile avail themselves of Dragon Wealth’s software, a customer relationship management (CRM) platform for investors.

Perhaps even more ambitiously Otonomos, a platform which treats shares like bitcoins in a digital wallet, is also giving companies an alternative yet secure means of financing themselves.

3. Credit

The world of personal credit is in some ways as bewildering as trading stocks, and affects people who have little interest in finance.

Creditseva, based in India, is seeking to ease this process through an analytics program. Customers who sign up then have access to a series of tools for managing loans and credit, including fraud protection and advice on how to improve your credit score.

Another option for would-be borrowers is KyePot, a peer-to-peer lending platform that allows people to borrow or lend money from and to trusted groups.

For businesses looking to collaborate financially DeBuNe provides a system based on the blockchain public ledger used in cryptocurrencies, allowing partners to pool resources for projects.

4. Payments

Sending money to family, friends and businesses used to be the domain of the banks, and could have taken days to carry out.

Pressure for easier ways to transfer money fast and simply provided the impetus for Cryptosigma, which promises customers that they can send money as easily as they would send an email, based on the same blockchain technology used in cryptocurrencies.

Another option for casual transactions is a mobile app from the folks at Kashmi, which offers a simple way to exchange money securely with friends and family.

5. Education Funding

The curveball among the finalists, SkolaFund is a nonprofit scheme for funding poor students through university through a kind of crowdfund.

Prospective students can apply for funding through the programmes portal, which acts as a means of verifying legitimate applications and securing any donations for their intended recipients.

Since students and donors can set how much money they want the scheme is more flexible than traditional education loans, and also offers donors a chance to connect with those they sponsor.

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