A very warm welcome to Minterest and thank you for visiting our website. I am Charis Liau, Co-Founder and CEO of Minterest. It’s an honour to share my first blog post with readers, and I hope to share my personal journey and experience with you, as we embark on possibly the most exciting evolution of our generation, Web 3.0.
How it all started
I was nursing my 6 month old baby when the idea of P2B (Peer-to-Business) lending dropped into my head in September 2015. Having gone through a difficult childbirth, the experience left a profound gratefulness for the precious gift of life. Holding my precious boy in my arms, I often wonder about the possibilities, dreams and hopes that lie ahead for his future.
I thought of my many years of banking experience serving large corporates and institutions across Asia, providing them with working capital loans, long term real- estate financing and cross border structured asset solutions.
A major trend that I’ve noticed is that since the global financial crisis in 2008, there had been a gradual but definite systemic shift – SMEs are facing difficulties in raising funds from traditional finance providers.
Having to adhere to stricter lending criteria, higher cost metrics and added regulatory and compliance requirements, banks had been forced to cut back from their role as the traditional provider of credit to these companies. The resultant difficulty in securing credit has had a dampening effect on global economic growth.
At around the same time, I was helping a local small business raise funds for its business. This company was looking to raise USD 5million. It had a business plan, strong financial projections and a promising future. However, not many people knew about it, and the company was unable to secure bank financing due to a lack of historical financial credit history.
Building tomorrow’s financial eco-system – one that serves rather than rules.
Together with Ronnie (Minterest’s co-founder), we established Minterest in March 2016 with the bold ambition to build a new financial eco-system in Singapore. As former bankers with deep experience in corporate and structured finance, our aim is to empower businesses and investors to enable them to reach their financial goals. This was confirmed by a study by VISA and Deloitte highlighting that 40% of Singapore SMEs have no access to bank loan financing. It is alarming as these SMEs contribute 47% to Singapore’s GDP and employ 70% of our Singapore workforce.
3 Simple Minterest Difference
We set ourselves apart from other financing solution providers through our three key differentiators :-
For the Borrowers – we bring our banking experience and structuring capabilities honed over the years serving large corporates to the small & medium enterprises, “turbo-charging” their businesses so as to accelerate their future to the present. We understand that no two businesses are alike and we offer customised solutions to every borrower.
For the Investors – we deliver to them a broad range of diversified loans which has been vetted through our due diligence process. We do not post every loan that comes our way. We question the use of funds, and more importantly, the source of repayment for every loan. Where required, we will take additional security (e.g. pledge over assets, assignment of cash flows, credit insurance etc.) to further enhance the security of the deal. I believe we are the first in Singapore to offer this.
To our other stakeholders – Minterest is built on a foundation of integrity and good governance. Duty of care to our stakeholders is at the centre of what we do at Minterest. Our values drive proper risk management that influences every aspect of our businesses. Being regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, we are subject to robust business governance, and compliance in ensuring that we deal fairly with our customers.
What does our future look like
Someone recently said to me, “For the first time in history, we do not know how banking will look like in 10 years’ time”. And I agree. Looking at my boy (who recently turned 2 years in March 2017), I can’t help but wonder in what shape or form banking will evolve into when he grows up. Will he still need to walk into a branch to open a bank account, fill up lengthy application forms to apply for a credit card, invest only in public listed shares and bonds, or will all these be disintermediated through smart innovations that bring seamless, convenient, on-demand banking and investment experience wherever and whenever he needs them.
As for me, I’m thrilled and extremely excited to be a part of his future, building a new financial eco-system that will hopefully, one day, serve his generation effectively in time to come.