SuperCharger Startup Highlight: Interview with Bill Eng, Co-Founder & CEO of FinChat
By Natalie Wong, Program Associate of SuperCharger
Bill Eng is the Co-Founder & CEO of FinChat, a RegTech (regulatory technology) startup that produces compliance monitoring software solutions for regulated enterprises to capture business-related chats done on popular social messaging apps such as Whatsapp, WeChat and more.
Q: Currently banks don’t allow their bankers to use WhatsApp or WeChat to conduct business with customers. What is the incentive for banks to start using private chat apps to interact with customers?
Today, social messaging such as WhatsApp and WeChat are hugely popular. In fact, billions of people use them everyday. It could be the millennials’ most preferred way to communicate with their bankers. However, the bad news is these apps are not compliant with financial regulations on data retention. And this is causing much frustration among bankers, who would like to use them to engage millennials addicted to these apps but they could not because compliance departments said no.
Leveraging on our patented mobile compliance technology, we break this stalemate between the rise of social messaging and the rise of compliance regulations, and allow bankers to use popular social messaging to reach out to the billions of potential clients out there who would otherwise be “untouchable” through their favorite social messaging apps.
Q: What is FinChat’s comparative advantage against other employee surveillance startups?
We don’t have many competitors, and I don’t know of anyone in this market who had gone past the baptism of fire in proof of concept trials to go production live with the banks so far. One of the many advantages we have is that there are very few people in the world who capture both WeChat and WhatsApp.
WeChat is very popular in this part of the world, HK and China. Line chat is very popular in Japan, Thailand and Taiwan, and almost the rest of the world is using mostly WhatsApp and FaceBook Messenger. So we are uniquely positioned.
Also, another thing is that we are quick to install. We are quick to POC (proof of concept), quick to production and quick to scale. In fact, we have a project with a top global bank where from the day the boss said “Hmm, interesting. Let’s try a POC.” to the day it went live with live clients, it took only 2.5 months. You know, for a normal banking IT project, it usually takes about 24 months. So, this is a x10 improvement.
And the timing could not be better. MiFID 2 is going live in 9 months’ time in Europe. 3 Jan 2018 is that dreaded compliance deadline for many banks still caught unprepared. For our happy clients, it’s dateline due tomorrow, dateline met yesterday. Not only that, from market share perspective, we help our client banks be the few early birds to reach out to the billions of millennials who would rather use their favorite social messaging and not some bespoke bank app or emails to talk to their bankers.
A bank who is not MiFID 2 ready will be blown away by the competition who is.
Talking of Regtech and FinTech Disruption, there could not be a better timing to be in this sub-space.
Q: What is MiFID 2?
MiFID (II) is a set of new financial directives from Europe. One directive says that all communications on financial advisory, via deskbound or mobile device, by a banker leading to a trade or sale, concluded or yet concluded,including solicitations & price quotes must be captured and archived for 7 years. Enforcement of MiFID 2 is going live in Europe on 3 Jan 2018, just 9 months away.
Q: FinChat provides a software for institutions to monitor chats on WhatsApp and WeChat on their employees’ work phone. Are there any considerations that go into keeping the balance between employee privacy and corporate compliance?
Only business chats will be captured. Private chats remain private. That is the policy of most banks which adopt Bring-your-own-Device (BYOD) policy for employees, and it fits like a hand in glove with one of our solutions. Our portfolio of solutions caters to both employee BYOD phones and corporate liable phones as well. We are also fully compatible with MDM (Mobile device management) solutions from MDM vendors. And we are device agnostic as well working on both android and iphones and blackberries.
Q: What is FinChat’s plan in 2017?
Having been supercharged for 3 months, we want to leverage on our new found arsenal of connections and solutions to do as many PoCs as possible, with as many financial institutions as possible, taking advantage of this 9-month window, by end of which every bank has to be compliant with directives on use of mobile devices in financial advisory. We are well placed to take advantage of this window, because we can PoC and go to production live in 2 months with a good product fit for solving the banks’ pain-points.
By Natalie Wong, Program Associate of SuperCharger
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