GlobalFintechSeries Interview with Raymond Wyand, CEO & Co-founder at gini
Raymond Wyand, CEO & Co-founder of smart budget and expense tracker platform gini joins us in this Global Fintech Series interview to tell us about his fintech journey and how the need for tools that help people save more and make better financial decisions led to the gini startup journey. Catch the excerpts to know what Raymond’s 2020 fintech predictions are and why he thinks that “Fintech is without doubt the most exciting industry to be in right now.”
Can you tell us a little about yourself Raymond (including your hobbies!) and what your fintech startup journey has been like so far. If not a fintech-preneur, what would you have chosen to be?!
After years of working in Hong Kong’s finance industry – most recently as the vice president of Citigroup – one thing was painfully obvious to me: the region has one of the worst gini coefficients (the metric used to measure income inequality) in the world.
While consumers in the US and Europe have a wide range of PFM apps to choose from, nothing like that existed in Asia at the time. There was a real need for tools that help people save more and make better financial decisions.
So I partnered with Victor Lang, who had just sold his biotech startup to a Nasdaq-listed company in 2016, to create gini, an app that empowers people to manage their money well. But once we started building our PFM app, we realised why there weren’t any on the market: the basic infrastructure for things like structuring financial data and syncing across international bank accounts just wasn’t there. We had to build it from the ground up. So we did.
It was no easy task, and as with most fintech startups, our journey has been full of dizzying ups and downs. But it’s all worth it. The success of our PFM app shows that there is a real demand for this in the Asian market. gini now has more than 65,000 users who are all benefiting from greater clarity and convenience in managing their finances.
Our journey took an unexpected turn last year when we realised we could empower a lot more people by offering our data enrichment solutions to banks, lenders, and other financial institutions, helping them provide their customers with more relevant, user-friendly, and personalized digital services. For example, our categorisation engine generates a detailed context around each transaction, enabling insightful analyses that can guide the development of more customer-centered solutions.
Fintech is without doubt the most exciting industry to be in right now. I’m thrilled to be part of the biggest societal change of our times. If I wasn’t doing this, I’d probably be furthering my work with Citigroup.
We’d love to know what some of your top FinTech predictions for 2020 are? Especially for the personal finance apps sub-segment.
This year, we’re expecting to see a significant improvement in personal banking user experience, particularly in Asia. Newly licensed virtual banks are vying for their share of the Asian market, so the race to introduce better digital wealth management solutions is on.
Robo-advisors are also an exciting area to watch, as banks are starting to incorporate them into their investment offerings to meet the needs of digitally-savvy investors.
Can you talk about some of the most innovative fintech apps and platforms that are set to create new benchmarks for this segment? It would be great to know your thoughts on how you see the fintech segment shape up given recent innovations.
Plaid is paving the way for a plethora of fintech innovations to develop, and its recent acquisition by Visa signals a significant industry shift toward open banking. It’s encouraging to see banks beginning to embrace technology that allows consumers more control over their finances, and working with fintech startups to build more consumer-focused solutions.
We also like Motif’s value-based investing model. They provide various impact portfolios such as “Sustainable Planet” and “Fair Labor” which are completely on point with younger generations who want to invest in what they believe in.
How do you see AI impact how Finance Technology Solutions will evolve?
AI has undoubtedly transformed the finance industry for the better, and will continue to do so at an increasing rate. With AI, banks can offer conversational customer support, more personalized services, more accurately segmented wealth management solutions, more efficient automated systems, and better security.
As more financial institutions begin to harness the advantages of AI, we’re seeing a trend towards lifestyle-integrated banking. The goal for banks is to extend their brands beyond financial services and become central to customers’ non-financial lives as well. Finance technology solutions will be highly personalized, providing timely and insightful services to customers at the exact moment they need them. AI has the power to transform banking in truly exciting ways.
How according to you should companies embrace fintech to transform their business more significantly?
We believe that in order to harness the power of fintech, companies need to start treating fintech startups as partners, rather than vendors. Win-win outcomes are more achievable in partnerships that allow startups the flexibility and freedom to do what they do best: test ideas. Companies who commission startups to simply do a job for them are missing a trick. Much like an R&D department, a startup’s advantages of speed and agility are better harnessed in a joint venture approach, where both partners have an incentivising stake that drives them to create a successful product together.
Tag (mention/write about) the one person in the fintech industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read!
I’m a great fan of behavioral economist Dan Ariely, author of “Predictably Irrational” and “Dollars and Sense”. His ideas have formed the basis of successful fintech business models such as those of Qapital and Lemonade. That’s where the future of fintech lies: in harnessing behavioural finance to help customers achieve their goals.
Your favorite FinanceTech quote
“In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.” – Warren Buffet
We’d love to know what some of your future plans for gini are!
These are exciting times in Asia. The digital transformation trend is sweeping the finance economy across the region, and we are lucky enough to be at the forefront, exploring new ground and developing solutions for early adopters. We’ve attracted attention from traditional banks, lenders, and insurers who need solutions to keep up with their digitally-savvy customers. So this year, we’re focusing on helping more financial institutions create data-enriched services through gini enterprise, while continually rolling out new features to improve our PFM app.
gini is Hong Kong’s first personal financial management (PFM) app, built with the mission to make it easy for anyone to be great at managing their finances. Beta launched in 2017, gini now syncs 3,000 banks in 60 countries, empowering close to 100,000 users around the world to have a stress-free financial life. The app is recognized as one of the top PFMs in Asia, and has won a number of prestigious awards including ETnet’s “Outstanding Intelligent Financial Management Mobile Application (2017)” and Harvard Business School Association’s “Best Startup in Hong Kong (2019)”. Having built an in-depth understanding of spending behaviors in Asia, gini has expanded their data enrichment solutions to the B2B sector, helping banks, lenders, and other financial institutions make sense of unstructured big data and understand their customers better, so they can deliver more personalized digital banking experiences – increasing loyalty and sales.
Raymond is the CEO & Co-founder at gini.