Synergizing the powers of social media and mobile for faster payments
fastacash – Michael Wee
fastacash provides a global platform allowing users to transfer value such as money, airtime, and other tokens of value along with content (photos, videos, audio, and messages) through social networks and messaging platforms. fastacash is the only social payments platform to enable the transfer of any type of value across any social or messaging channel, without barriers.
Seeing how consumers were interacting across social media and with their mobile phones, the team saw an opportunity to simplify payments and came together to marry the worlds of social, mobile and payments.
Headquartered in Singapore, fastacash has international teams across the US, the UK, South East Asia and India and currently powers businesses in 5 international markets. Michael Wee, Chief Creative Officer (CCO) of fastacash talks to AsiaBizToday about this fast-growing venture.
What is ‘fastacash’? What is the issue that the venture is trying to address and what makes you confident that it is a winning proposition.
“fastacash enables payments over social media networks and messaging apps. The company was born from an idea — “if I can send a photo to you over WhatsApp, why can’t I send money?” While the idea seems simple, a lot of work goes in behind the scenes to make this real — across the technology, processes and partner acquisition.
The idea to improve global money transfers, particularly from the user’s experience (something I am obsessed with) was also born from a very real need to simplify money transfers, particularly across borders. Till date, this largely remains a lengthy, paper-based process wrought with inefficiencies. Why not improve it by tapping into the global proliferation of a) smartphones and b) social media?
fastacash looks to solve these inefficiencies, bringing our social payments technology to partner banks, money transfer and wallet companies, enabling their users to send and receive money domestically and internationally through social media on their devices.”
What was the key factor/s that led you to take the plunge?
“What led us to take the plunge was the explosion in smartphone penetration, as well as the rise in social media usage —there was a fantastic opportunity to tap into these, by bringing payment and transaction capabilities to the mobile and social worlds. Our proposition is simple: we want to make it easy for people to share money and other forms of value — like airtime, coupons, and also make payments through social and messaging apps – apps in which they are already spending a significant amount of their time every day.”
Where did you meet your other co-founders / business partners? Please describe each one briefly.
“The company was founded in 2012 with another entrepreneur in the banking and finance space. Our co-founder noticed that his daughter spent a lot of time on WhatsApp and Skype. This inspired the idea for fastacash — the opportunity to combine social media and messaging apps and payments. Scaling fastacash has been nothing short of a collective effort. Vince (an investor who then became the Chairman and CEO), Peter (our Chief Financial Officer), Radhika (our Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer), Vishesh (our Chief Operating Officer), Gilberto (our Chief Commercial Officer), John (our Chief Corporate Development Officer) and Jorgen (our Chief Innovation Officer) have all been instrumental in bringing the business to where it is today. And of course, the collective innovation and efforts of the broader teams.”
How did you manage the initial capital?
“For us, it wasn’t so much about managing initial capital as it was about getting the right people on board. We need to thank early believers and especially Vince — who met with the co-founders and immediately bought into the vision and opportunity that fastacash was solving.”
What were the first 90 days like?
“Our biggest challenge was finding the right businesses to partner with — ones that shared our vision of bringing social to payments, and seeing fastacash’s value as a technology and innovation enabler to make this a reality. Our vision is a big one, and so far we have been fortunate to find such partners in multiple countries. I think the clichÃ© about those who create and build a business are spot on – the big idea, its execution, sleepless nights. That’s true of the first 90 days, but it doesn’t stop there.”
Have you managed to raise any funding — angel / seed, etc?
“In July 2015, we raised one of the largest Series B rounds to date by a Singapore-headquartered fintech company. Rising Dragon Singapore led the Series B, which also included fintech venture capital firm Life.SREDA, UVM 2 Venture Investments LP, among others — all who are blue chip, highly reputed fintech investors.”
What is the revenue stream & profitability?
“We are a privately-held company and don’t disclose such information publicly.”
What is your guiding philosophy when it comes to doing business?
“Our philosophy is a simple one. Build solutions that consumers want, and bring them to where they are. Although we are a B2B2C company, a strong consumer-focus is an imperative to innovate and succeed — whether these are our employees or end-consumers. We’re driven to constantly innovate.
For end consumers, the technology and user experience that is developed should simplify the consumer’s experience, making it seamless, intuitive, and easier than the current standard. The secret to delivering this best-in-class experience lies in our constant innovation, which can be seen in everything we do, every new product or service we launch – as well as the partners we choose.
For our hires, we look for people who are creative, entrepreneurial, smart, and passionate about driving change. The ideal work culture is to have the team do the thinking; it is their own business which they want to succeed and derive happiness from when it does. A strong team compliments and overcomes obstacles together to collaborate towards mutual success. It is basically extracting the best out of oneself, as well as together, and sharing the right kind of spirit and energy.”
Where do you see yourself 3 years from now?
“Few things are as exciting as when imagination and hard work materialise into something big, something which solves existing problems. To be part of the effort to lead this technological innovation, leaving behind a path for others to follow, â€Žis what drives the team, and motivates me. fastacash is changing the way payments happen – constant perseverance, innovation and internal belief in what we are doing, and the ability to be nimble has been very important. I am confident that in three years from now we’re going to command a larger presence on a globalized stage.”