M-banking solution Tootpay wows ‘em at Echelon Malaysia
By Goh Thean Eu March 13, 2014
- Solution allows secure banking transactions via mobile phones, even without data connection
- Tootpay will be one of 10 finalists to make its pitch at main Echelon event in Singapore on June 10-11
[This article was amended to add extra information]
MOBILE banking solutions provider Tootpay Sdn Bhd emerged the winner at the Echelon Malaysia Satellite pitching competition held earlier this week, and will represent the country at the main Echelon 2014 event in Singapore on June 10-11.
The company’s solution involves an ‘overlay chip’ being placed into customers’ mobile phones, allowing them to make mobile banking transaction securely without the need for mobile Internet network coverage. The solution work on almost all phones, including entry-level handsets.
The announcement that it was the winner caught Tootpay founder Balvinder Singh and his team by surprise.
"It took my team a few seconds before we were able to ‘absorb’ that Tootpay’s name was being announced. It is not every time we get to compete with high driving teams and win,” he said after receiving the award.
For Balvinder, winning the Malaysia satellite event was icing on the cake.
“Our two primary reasons for participating in these types of events are to seek customers or people with contacts with top bank management, and potential investors.
“Winning it [was the] icing. We are overwhelmed with regards to the potential marketing opportunity this could entail, apart from the [opportunity of engaging with the] audience in Singapore,” he said.
Echelon is an annual event organised by Singapore-based regional media outfit e27.
“This move to bring together the technology driven startup community is part of Cyberview’s initiative to transform Cyberjaya into a global tech hub and to stimulate technopreneurship,” said Faris Yahaya, managing director of Cyberview, which was the venue partner for the Malaysian leg.
Faris said that talks are being held with various stakeholders, including startup community leaders and social enterprises, to further spur innovation and the startup ecosystem in Cyberjaya.
Click the video below as Tootpay’s Balvinder speaks to DNA founder Karamjit Singh:
Bikesh Lakhmichand, one of the five judges at Echelon Malaysia, said that Tootpay would be a good representative for Malaysia.
“We picked it because of the innovative idea it has. In terms of judging criteria, it checked every single box.
“The main thing is the product itself. Tootpay has a compelling product in a market that is underserved – payment gateways are the biggest thing and [Tootpay] is hitting the correct region,” said Bikesh, also the founder and chief executive officer of 1337 Ventures.
His fellow judge, Digital Media Partners principal Khor Chieh Suang, concurred, saying that Tootpay’s solution could penetrate the underserved market in the region.
“Given that Tootpay is not telco- or handset-dependent, it looks like it could potentially bring simple banking solutions to the next layer of the population in emerging markets,” said Khor, who explained that the ‘next layer’ comprises those people with no bank accounts but who had mobile phones.
Last October, the GSM Association (GSMA) said that mobile operators had a critical role to play in driving the adoption of convenient and affordable financial services among unbanked and under-banked people.
The GSMA defines ‘unbanked’ as people with no access to financial services. The association said that 2.5 billion people in developing countries are unbanked, but noted that more than one billion of these people have access to a mobile phone.
Meanwhile, at the Echelon Malaysia Satellite event, each startup was given five minutes to pitch its products or solutions to the judges, which also included e27 cofounder Thaddeus Koh, 500 Startups venture partner Khailee Ng, and Crystal Horse venture partner Kelvin Goh.
The 19 other solutions that were pitched included Adz, EasyRead, EasyUni, EnSurvey, FanXT, Geob, GolfBogey, Netizen, Supahands, TableApp, Watch Over Me, Ticket Hero, and more.
Of the 20 companies shortlisted to make a pitch, 10 have been funded by Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, the Malaysian Ministry of Finance non-profit agency that manages the Cradle investment fund.
“Echelon is a regional platform that our local entrepreneurs can reach out to, given that our market is small,” said Cradle Fund chief executive officer Nazrin Hassan.
At the same time, Cradle's Coach and Grow Programme (CGP) also had a strong influence with eight of its companies among the 20 that pitched, said Dr V. Sivapalan, chief evangelist at Proficeo Sdn Bhd which designed and runs the CGP, which is funded by the Ministry of Finance, Malaysia.
While one startup was the winner, even those that didn’t win didn’t go home empty-handed, having had the opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs as well as members of the investment community.
“Our goal here was to raise funds and if we managed to win the satellite event, it would have been a bonus,” SecQ.me Sdn Bhd cofounder Chin Xin-Ci (pic).
“So far, I have managed to get connected with two prospective investors who could potentially help the company move to the next level,” she added. SecQ.me is the company behind mobile safety app Watch Over Me.
Meanwhile, Theta Edge Bhd executive director Richard Azlan Abas, who was one of the guests, said he was very impressed with the quality of the ideas and pitches.
“It is a big improvement compared with [the startup scene] many years ago. I think any of these products could potentially be the next big thing … they are that good,” he added.
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