Malaysian eKYC Startup WISE AI bags undisclosed funding from Sunway-backed Sun SEA Capital
By Digital News Asia December 10, 2020
- Opportunities for WISE.AI to seize market share during current downturn
- Sunway’s vast ecosystem across 13 business divisions as a living opportunity
Two year old fintech startup, Kuala Lumpur based WISE AI has just announced an undisclosed funding round from Sunway backed Sun SEA Capital.
As an Electronic Know Your Customer (eKYC) startup, WISE AI seized the opportunity to positively impact the lives of many by granting everyone instant access to services from the comfort of their own home. WISE AI cofounder David Lim said, “Anyone, even those in rural and sub-urban areas, can open a bank account within minutes of applying. This totally changes the impact of financial inclusion for the unbanked population in particular”.
Lead investor Sun SEA Capital is a venture capital backed by one of Malaysia’s largest public-listed conglomerates, Sunway Group. The investment proves timely as Sunway prepares for their digital bank license application. “The need for digitalisation has been accelerated due to the pandemic, and we see the opportunities for WISE AI to become the market leader.
“Through Sun SEA Capital’s investment, WISE AI is able to explore collaboration opportunities leveraging Sunway’s vast ecosystem across 13 business divisions as well as Sunway City Kuala Lumpur as a living laboratory to potentially test, validate and implement new ideas and services as a launchpad for future growth,” said Raymond Hor, Director of Sun SEA Capital.
According to Google, Temasek & Bain’s e-Conomy SEA 2020 Report, regulators across the region have been encouraging innovation in Digital Financial Services. Hence, the issuance of new digital bank licenses and eKYC policies have increasingly been implemented. This rings true as the Central Bank of Malaysia – Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) published a policy document on eKYC in June this year, for financial institutions to adopt such technologies in order to facilitate greater digital offerings. The development of the eKYC infrastructure is essential for the digital banking.
The startup has already amassed a reputable presence in Malaysia, providing solutions for clients ranging from a subsidiary of BNM, core banking system providers, local state governments and agencies, credit rating agencies, enterprises of varying sizes, fintech, as well as internet companies.
Lim explains that the benefits of eKYC go beyond financial inclusion, it is also about the time saved when authenticating patients’ medical records, protecting your personal wealth through stronger security mechanisms, aside from helping citizens access government incentives and services. He envisions a world where your face is your digital identity to unlock instant access to almost all types of services – namely banking, insurance, healthcare, transportation, real estate, government, retail, hospitality, internet and payments.
AI-based eKYC startups in the US and Europe have garnered hundreds of millions of dollars in large fundraising rounds, as industries acknowledge the increasing importance of electronic verification. As this technology sector ramps up, there has yet to be a dominant player in Southeast Asia.
Lim aspires for the startup to become the leading eKYC provider in this region, “Our greatest competitive advantage is that we own this full-fledged eKYC technology. This gives us the flexibility to localise and customise our offerings for partners in each country cost-efficiently.”
Since its inception in 2018, WISE AI has won two medals at the ASEAN ICT Awards, and was recognised as one of the ‘Top 20 Hottest Artificial Intelligence Companies in Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in 2019’ by CIO Advisor. They were also invited to speak about Digital Identity at the United Nations ESCAP in Bangkok last year