Swiss fintech Crealogix made a quick start to its Asian push by scoring early successes in Singapore and Hong Kong. It now has its eyes on the burgeoning and highly populated emerging markets in Asia.
Pascal Wengi, Crealogix’s Managing Director APAC, believes Singapore is the perfect base for his Zurich-listed firm, which provides banking software products and solutions.
The city state, now a well-established fintech hub with access to talent and tech infrastructure, offers proximity to highly populated countries, where personal wealth is growing at a robust rate.
The emerging and frontier nations are where the most significant demand for digital banking services is originating.
Having a global network of offices is also proving beneficial for the Asian push of the fintech firm.
“We exchange information, ideas and regulatory updates all the time, for example, the markets in financial instruments directive (PSD2) European regulation we build that into our Asian offering,” Wengi says.
“Although, this is not necessary for the Asian markets it is one example of how we normally enforce this exchange between Switzerland and Asia. So now, we give the message to the market that you can use the open banking capabilities,” he adds.
Crealogix’s solutions include its Digital Banking Hub, a platform that enables companies to develop their own digital banking strategies, and public APIs for banking product portfolio.
The company also provides what it calls “Branch in a Mobile”, a mobile banking solution for retail banking, and its RM Dashboard, a one-stop shop solution for client relationship managers in banks.
Under Wengi, Crealogix is also penetrating the external asset management segment in Asia through its everyday use by private bank clients. “We’re providing the platform for the banks, and then the banks in turn have the opportunity to allow multiple external access points to that structure for their clients,” says Wengi.
“We can connect with multiple product cores and then on top of it, we bring the right market tools for the advisors,” Wengi adds.
With the firm established as a partner to major wealth management clients in the Lion City, the next target is to gain access to the huge opportunity presented across the hinterland of ASEAN.
Banks in Indonesia and Thailand for example have substantial potential as they seek digital or hybrid solutions to ramp up their client coverage. According to Wengi, customers at these banks have already accumulated a lot of wealth but it is not necessarily being managed efficiently.
“Now we're looking mainly into Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia where the whole private banking and wealth management is a relatively new business to them,” says Wengi
“The big retail banks have many mass affluent and high net worth clients and need a suite of digital solutions to serve them properly, which client advisors can also quickly adopt to,” Wengi adds.
He is convinced however that at the top end of the wealth scale, the ultra-high net worth market, digital solutions will only have a limited influence on those clients and that face-to-face meetings will remain the norm.
To support its growth in the region, Wengi is still hiring and is looking to double the Asian headcount to 20 by the end of 2019.
Should the right opportunity arise for Wengi, an acquisition in Asia is another serious option.
The Swiss Stock Exchange-listed company is well capitalized and has recent deal-making experience.
Eighteen months ago, the Zurich-based fintech snapped up Barcelona-based Innofis and its 120 employees together with its clients in Saudi Arabia. The deal not only took them into a new market and added several tier-one banking clients but augmented the firm’s expertise.
It now has an increased capacity to support Islamic banking services, an important factor for several Asian jurisdictions.
Looking ahead, Wengi sees the competition to banks and financial services in Asia as coming not just from innovative or disruptive startup fintechs but the big tech firms such as Facebook, Apple and Alipay.
“It’s the big tech companies which are now entering the market so you need to find a solution to compete with them,” Wengi says.
“We position ourselves for the banks as actually a platform which has opened up so you can integrate fintechs quite freely, to be ready for the next five years,” he adds.