Curren$eek, a smartphone app that tells users where to find the best money-changer rates, won the Visa and Association of Islamic Banking Institutions Malaysia (AIBIM)’s Asean Fintech Challenge in a tightly-fought contest for financial technology start-ups.
The challenge was held in conjunction with the Global Islamic Finance Forum 5.0, to allow start-ups to pitch their products for a cash prize, and a chance to attract potential investors at this biennial event attended by over 1,000 delegates from around the world.
Curren$eek’s Hakim Karim, in his five-minute pitch, said while trillions of dollars are exchanged into different currencies every year, not everyone knew where to get the best rates. Rates can sometimes fluctuate up to 20 per cent, he said.
But with this app, users can find out the rates of the money-changers by location, allowing them to make comparisons. In the future, Hakim said there are plans to enable money-changers to bid for the business of users who request to change a particular currency.
He said they were also working with banks to allow direct payment to the money-changer from the user’s account, to eliminate the need for the user to carry cash around.
The app, which has been downloaded more than 7,000 times, has raised US$150,000 in a government grant.
Placed first out of seven contestants, CurrenSeek took home US$3,000 in prize money.
The competition was organised by Nxt Bnk KL with the aim of bringing the most innovative fintech startups from the region to compete in Kuala Lumpur.
In second place was Kapital Boost, Asia’s first Islamic crowd-funding platform. It matches small investors with small-medium enterprises under Islamic financing structures. This aims to help overcome the problem of limited financing for SMEs while enabling untapped investors to find new avenues for investments.
The company’s business development / governance manager, Norliana Hamber said since its launch last year, it has since raised S$500,000 in 14 deals. Kapital Boost won US$2,000.
The third placing prize of US$1,000 went to Prime Keeper, an app that aims to allow users a seamless digital banking service for making all kinds of payments.
Its CEO, Jeremy Chong said the app, to be rolled out by the year-end, will allow users to link their bank accounts to app, and choose which account to use to make various payments.
This includes paying bills, loans, insurance, traffic summons and EPF contributions; topping up phone credits and TouchNGo cards; transferring money; making charitable donations, and managing loyalty points.
The judges were Visa Head of Products for Southeast Asia, James Lim; Maybank Head of Innovation, Amran Hassan; Next Bank founder Rob Findlay; Investment Account Platform (IAP) CEO Mohamed Izam Mohamed Yusof; and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDec) Vice President of Entrepreneur Development, Gopi Ganesalingam.