Award-winning Malaysian team out to pursue social good
By Lum Ka Kay December 23, 2015
- MoneyRemaid team all in their 20s, three of them still pursuing their education
- Aims to provide foreign domestic workers with financial literacy and access
IT was a conversation with a maid who was allegedly abused by her former employer that sparked the idea for MoneyRemaid, the winning app in MasterCard Inc’s Masters of Code global hackathon.
The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform aims to boost financial literacy and inclusion in Malaysia, where there are more than 300,000 migrant domestic workers, by improving the way such workers receive and manage their salaries.
And team wants to take the idea across South-East Asia, they told Digital News Asia (DNA) when they were in Kuala Lumpur recently.
“This is a platform which we will sell directly to maid agencies,” said team member Wong Gwen Yi, who prefers to be known as Gwen.
“It’s like a HR (human resource) management system because right now, everything is still pen-and-paper and there isn’t really a way for them to digitise the entire process.
“We hope to incorporate MoneyRemaid into the onboarding process so that maids will know how to use it when they’re in Malaysia.
“Once they have the knowledge, they’re able to use it [the software],” she added.
The Money Remaid team won the regional hackathon event in Singapore before making it to the Grand Finale in San Francisco which took place from Dec 5-6.
Leading up to the Grand Finale, the Masters of Code hackathon visited 12 cities around the globe and hosted regional events that brought together more than 3,000 developers, designers and entrepreneurs, MasterCard said in an official statement.
Gwen said walking away with the grand prize of US$100,000 (approximately RM431,000 at current rates) in seed funding still feels “surreal.”
The team also gets to participate in the MasterCard StartPath incubation programme, are eligible for six months of executive mentoring, and get free payments processing for up to US$250,000 in transactions for the first 12 months using MasterCard’s Simplify Commerce platform.
Using Simplify Commerce and MoneySend (also from MasterCard) application programme interfaces (APIs), MoneyRemaid performs three tasks: Automates salaries and payments by linking the employer’s and the maid’s bank accounts; aggregates remittances to lower their overall costs; and opens up safe investment opportunities with improved interest rates for the workers.
Astute DNA readers may have noticed a similar vein running across Money Remaid and Gwen’s previous app attempt for a MasterCard and AngelHack regional hackathon, One Small Step: The potential for social good.
“We are committed to it [social good], and basically we want to create changes at the Malaysian grassroots level,” she said.
One Small Step was more about women empowerment, helping both women and men to understand technology better through coding games.
“MoneyRemaid is also quite woman-centric where we focus on empowering domestic labourers, maids and also, in the near future, blue-collared workers,” said Gwen.
“We hope to empower them with financial literacy and access,” she added.
According to team member Daniel Lim, the One Small Step idea had to be put away because the team had no game developer.
Also, “we didn’t continue with One Small Step for the grand finale because MasterCard didn’t want us to utilise an old idea,” he said.
Having said that, the team still has not given up on One Small Step, believing it can be really important for laymen to understand technology.
“So if anyone else has the expertise to further develop One Small Step, please go ahead and do it. At the end of the day, what we want is to solve a problem, regardless of who’s solving it,” said Lim.
The dream team
The five members of Money Remaid, all in their 20s, do not always agree with each other, they told DNA.
“We are very stubborn and we often have conflicts with each other, but we make sure the conflicts are resolved after that,” Lim said.
The only Indonesian member of the team, Leonardy Kristianto, declared he couldn’t have found a better team.
“We are all very different from each other but whenever I attend other events, I can’t help but think of my team members and their exceptional talents,” he told DNA, making the other team members go “awwwww.”
Meanwhile Lim said that when one looks at the synergy of the team – which comprises a designer, back-end and front-end developers, a pitcher/ content writer, and a business developer – everything fits.
“These are the components of a hackathon. We didn’t know we could win, but at least with these people, we know we’re in the game to compete with the big guns,” he added.
So, what’s next for the global champions?
“We haven’t decided what we are going to do next because the five of us are in different stages of our lives – three of us are still in school and two of us are working,” said Gwen.
Lim concurred, saying they will take things one step at a time, adding that it would be best for the three to prioritise their education first.
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