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TECHNOLOGY website Techopedia.com defines geolocation as “the process of finding, determining and providing the exact location of a computer, networking device or equipment.”
According to the website, geolocation enables device location based on geographical coordinates and measurements.
“Geolocation commonly uses the Global Positioning System (GPS) and other related technologies to assess and specify geographical locations.”
Hong Kong-based geolocation startup Pulse iD is using geolocation to serve the financial services sector and in the long-term, dominate the Asia Pacific region.
In a recent interview with Digital News Asia, Pulse iD chief executive officer Alex Topaloski shed some light on the company’s origins and his journey as an entrepreneur.
The beginning of Pulse iD
“We really started the geolocation journey in 2011 in Australia, I actually ran another geolocation company out of Australia and we really felt at the time we were just starting to scratch the surface on what the technology could do,” Topaloski recalls.
After a few years of running that company (Proximiti), he and his co-founder decided the technology was much better placed to be run as a regional business in Asia.
And so, they decided to start a new company in Hong Kong that was more focused on applying geolocation to the financial services business.
“Pulse iD started in November 2016 and very soon after that we raised investment from a number of fintech funds and now we’re in the midst of growing around the region,” Topaloski explains.
According to him, they have raised a total of US$3.8 million (RM14.86 million) from three venture capitalists, namely Investec, Tuas Capital Partners and Digital Ventures.
As for Proximiti, they decided to wind it down to focus on Pulse iD.
“The markets where we are playing in, there is a lot of adoption that is happening very quickly. Me as a person, I’m very focused so I don’t think I could do two businesses justice. And one of the things I bring to my work is my tenacity so it felt like the right decision to focus on Pulse iD,” he adds.
Topaloski is currently in his eighth year of building entrepreneurial ventures.
“It sounds like a long time and yet it feels like the beginning and every year has been so phenomenally different. Before going on my own, I was in banking for seven years. I have a masters’ degree in finance and an undergraduate degree in computer science. I’ve worked for Deutsche Bank in London and for ANZ bank in Melbourne in the strategy team.”
So, what inspired him to leave behind a corporate career to become an entrepreneur? Topaloski says it stemmed from one of the last strategy papers he wrote for the board of ANZ which talked about disruptive technologies in financial services.
“We really explored the concept of location intelligence and how helpful it is and reimagines many facets of banking, in terms of how you are able to identify fraud, how you are able to seamlessly onboard customers, driving loyalty and offers across merchants.
“This was back in 2010, a lot of these user cases weren’t clear at that point but we just kind of knew directionally that was going to be a very deployable piece of technology for a bank of tomorrow. And that was basically the spark,” he says of his decision to become an entrepreneur.
What Pulse iD is all about
According to the Pulse iD website, the company has two key products. Trail uses location data for companies to better understand their customers, while Catalyst allows companies to connect and converse with their customers using precise location-based mobile engagement.
Topaloski explains how their technology works for banks.
“One of our fundamental beliefs is that banks currently are going through a phase of transition where they’re starting to make available a whole range of technology services to their own merchants and business customers. So, every store has a bank inside it through the payment terminal.”
He adds that those relationships inside stores are going to grow and banks are starting to release a range of technology services across their merchant networks.
“So, the first phase is around loyalty, then it is around data and store analytics and them being able to understand what are the people that are walking in and those not walking inside stores and then around making efficiencies in those stores.”
He sees that phase developing and Pulse iD is a platform that allows banks to offer these services across their merchant network.
“Our business model is getting our technology inside a mobile banking app and then starting to collaborate with the bank as it is introducing these services,” he explains.
Pulse iD operates on a revenue share model with banks. “Effectively, it scales depending on the type of services we introduce across merchants and because of the size and number of stores and locations we have to manage.”
Commenting on their current clients, he says that Pulse iD has two banking deployments within the investors they have and is also live in Malaysia with a large media company, and has another two deployments on the way.
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