GoBear raises US$80mil in funding to date
By Kiran Kaur Sidhu May 8, 2019
- Has 40 million users and has seen a 20% quarterly growth since 2015
- EasyApply app captures smartphone data for credit-scoring purposes
ASIAN financial supermarket GoBear announced on May 8 that it has raised US$80 million (RM332 million) in funding to date. This funding was furnished by Walvis Participaties, a Dutch venture capital fund, and Aegon NV, a financial services provider.
In an interview with Digital News Asia (DNA), GoBear CEO Adrian Chng (pic) said, “Our latest round of funding will be invested in our priority areas of product, technology, senior management and technical talent."
Funds will go towards driving growth through product and technology enhancements, expanding its partner network, and filling key roles.
Specifically, there will be improvements made to the platform’s search and match functionality including two strategic approaches: partnerships with, and investments into other technology companies, to acquire access to additional key technologies.
GoBear has served more than 40 million users across Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam since 2015 with a quarterly growth of over 20%. It's partners include financial institutions, banks and insurance providers, such as, Allianz Worldwide Partners, Citibank, FWD Insurance and Standard Chartered Bank.
Data capabilities, talent and technology
Steering away from being labelled as merely a financial comparison site, Chng believes it is not as relevant a business model for Asia as it is for the UK market since only 3-6% of the population across the Phillipines, Vietnam and Thailand have credit cards.
Addressing this pain point, GoBear aids banks and insurance companies by using data to measure risk and thus match services to a larger pool of consumers. Calling out to industry players, Chng said: “To solve this problem and help people get products they deserve, they need to work with us because we have the data and capabilities to help consumers and banks and insurance companies end-to-end.”
GoBear is dedicating a sizeable portion of its funding to technologies in order take the company to the next level. “We want to partner with and potentially invest in other technology companies that can help us solve this problem.”
Building technology has long been at the company’s core with GoBear’s internal focus of developing its data capabilities which Chng says “includes hiring people with key capabilities”.
In total, the GoBear team is made up of over 150 people. "In totality across all markets, as many as up to 30% of all GoBear staff can be working on or with our data at any one time, a significant number of them in areas of product development."
Chng has plans to recruit senior management for GoBear’s Singapore office as well as content, SEO and digital marketing talents in other markets.
Using smartphones as credit-scoring devices
One of GoBear’s innovative solutions called EasyApply was announced in 2018. The solution was developed in partnership with CredoLab. EasyApply is a credit-scoring app that utilises propriety algorithms that extract and analyse over tens of thousands of data points from applicants’ smartphones for anonymised digital footprints to be used as predictive scorecards for insurance, loan or credit card applications.
With the advent of mobile wallets and e-banking, this raised the question of whether the fintech tool has the capability to track spending habits. Chng was quick to clarify that information captured by the app complies with all legal regulations.
“We are very conscious of making sure privacy and data security is a critical aspect what we do. Having said that, we see consumers all around the world willing to share information if there is value to it.”
EasyApply captures metadata (anonymised data) such as the size of files in e-mails, the number of contacts and mobile apps, and the amount of data the mobile user consumes.
“It captures ones and zeros such as how many e-mails you have, not who sends you e-mails,” Chng clarifies.
Chng explains how this information can translate into predictive credit scoring: “How you use your smartphone is a proxy for your lifestyle. What we have found, statistically speaking, is that some of these factors give a good representation of lifestyle and behaviour.”
As for GoBear’s immediate plan of action, Chng said the company has set its sights on “going deep with end-to-end transactions in digital lending, insurance and digital broking.”