Toucan Weekly Roundup – 23 June 2017

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International Regtech Association Launch and IBM Watson announce Regtech Apps

Regulation technology, a branch underfinance technology, is largely underrated. Banks frequently get fined billions due to regulatory misconduct. Regtech uses AI and cloud technology to ensure ease of compliance to regulations. Furthermore, regtech has the potential to streamline fintech integration into new markets and achieve greater accuracy in error checking.

Val Jihsuan Yap of PolicyPal talks the future of fintech, and why collaboration always matters 


Val Jihsuan has indicated her plans to expand PolicyPal into other Asian countries. She believes in the importance of working closely with various stakeholders to grow her company. As part of MAS Fintech Regulatory Sandbox, she has shared some observations. Firstly, she observed startups leading in fintech as compared to financial institutions with a ‘start up culture’. This is largely due to startup’s adoption of the lean startup methodology, a methodology that adapts and customise solutions for consumers. Secondly, collaboration between various companies were common. These companies include but are not limited to startups, financial institutions, insurance companies and consulting companies. The various companies were chosen so as to leverage on each other strengths.

Customers are open to robo-advice—with a few conditions

Robo-advice are seen as a low cost way to deliver customised information and answers to consumers. A study by Accenture suggests that 74% consumers are willing to receive computer-generated advice. However, many respondents stated that human interaction are able to serve consumers’ more complex problems.

Checking Credit Scores Improves Credit Behavior, So Why Do Millennials Ignore Them? 


Many fintech services are starting to introduce free checking and tracking of credit score. However, these services are underused with close to a third of millennials not checking their credit score. This may be due to the fact that millennials perceive that credit score ratings are not within their control.

Live from TechCrunch, Fintech needs to be less about tech

Lloyd and Zhang, panelists in Techcrunch, agreed that fintech is about solving problems rather than introducing new technology. An example given was China’s usage of QR codes to make payments. This technology was not considered the best but it overcame existing problems in the market. The adaptation of QR codes gave China the competitive edge they needed to be a disruptor in the fintech scene.

5 Ways to Make Love, Not War with Credit

There are several junctures in life where we make life changing decisions. At some point, we get married, purchase our first house, first car and have a baby (in any order you desire). Looking for furniture, making a down payment, paying for car maintenance and buying that expensive cot are all costly. For many of us, paying for large expenses in one shot is not an option and we find ourselves facing the option of taking on credit.

Credit can either be your lover or worst enemy. With good money management, you find that you can enjoy the perks of taking credit – convenience, protection, discount, cashback and many more. However, inadequate planning will result in endless interest costs and repayments. Making credit your lover isn’t an easy task but if you are ready continue reading and we will walk you through to making credit your lover.

1. Apply for credit and grow your credit early on


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It is important to build a credit history for yourself early on by applying for some credit soon after hitting the legal age. Traditionally, credit can be taken on in the form of credit cards, car loans and house loans. However, recent innovations in fintech allows you to take on credit in other forms. Starting early and ensuring that you make all repayments punctually will give you a good credit score.

2. Spend within your limit (not your credit card’s)
If you are lucky (or unlucky), you may have a high credit limit. However, it is wise to spend only the sum you can afford. If you overspend and cannot pay off your balance, your credit score is on the verge of suffering. In such a case, you have 3 options left – paying the monthly minimum, an amount smaller than the balance or not paying at all. Always opt for paying an amount smaller than the balance, as paying the bare minimum or not paying at all will worsen your credit score.

3. Pay back your loans on time (Use your calendar)
It is always good practice to make repayments on time to stay in the good books of banks. A helpful tip is to use your calendar to set monthly reminders. For both credit cards and term loans, individuals should always strive to repay loans in regular installments and repay more than the minimum amount due. This will ensure that your credit score remains positive and that banks would be keen to extend your credit line down the road.

4. Digitize and track your transactions


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Digitize your transactions by adopting services such as Mynt and that allows you to make payments and transactions online. With digital transactions, you are able to accumulate a digital footprint. The new wave of finance technology means that financiers are increasingly relying on digital data to determine your credit score and eligibility for credit. Furthermore, many of these services summarize your monthly transactions and allows you to plan interests payable and repayments. Browse through the plethora of fintech services and select one that suit your needs!

5. Keep your credit utilization low
Credit utilization refers to the ratio of credit card balance to credit limit. When using a credit card, keeping your credit utilization low gives you a better credit score. A better credit score will give you favourable interest rates in the long run.

In a nutshell, borrow responsibly and make informed decisions. Owning credit has several benefits when used cautiously. Follow the 5 tips above religiously and you can improve your borrowing experience. Just remember to be patient and consistent as building a credit score takes time. Make love with your credit facilities today and you won’t regret it.

Toucan Weekly Roundup – 16 June 2017

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Banking is the logical next step in the personal assistant revolution

Personal assistants such as Samsung’s Bixby is looking into integrating banking services through their partnership with South Korean banks. This is an addition to Samsung’s current Samsung Pay which allows for P2P transactions through voice commands. Mashable has also speculated that there is a possibility of a different form of banking authentication which leverages on current phone security features such as face recognition, fingerprint scanners and iris scanners.

How safe will open banking and future fintech innovations be?

Open banking is expected to rise in 2018 where banks are required to share data with external organizations. General Data Protection Regulation are implemented to ensure a bank’s accountability in securing consumer’s data. Regulations are implemented to ensure that customers data are kept within the organizations. Additionally, banks have to take a privacy impact assessment and hefty punishments are implemented in the event of a data breach. While there are some fears on fintech security in the early days, MacKenzie and Goodbrand are optimistic on its security.

Competing With Banks Won’t Fund Your Fintech Startup

Despite speculation, investors have expressed that they do not believe a fintech startup can replace traditional banks. Investors believe traditional institutions are here to stay. In fact, investors place their trust in fintech startups who aim to work alongside with banks to value add to their processes.

How Bitcoin will disrupt Wall Street West and East

A decentralized network allows for emergence of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, creating a global market. With such a system, innovations such as Initial Ticket Offerings (ITO) have emerged. This allows for investors from all over the world to invest in growing companies in Silicon Valley. Wall Street West (VCs in Silicon Valley) no longer have the competitive advantage they had – their close proximity to fast growth startups. Additionally, a decentralized network removes companies need for a data centre which was one of the core reasons many companies searched for venture funding in the first place. A decentralised network allows for a global Wall Street and a fair playing field.

Banks Must Disrupt Themselves, Not Consumers, Citi Fintech CEO Says

Disruption must start from within and this can be done through partnering with fintech startups. Citi has a history of cooperation through their partnerships with fintech startups. Several fintech startups specializes in a specific consumer group and banks can leverage on this knowledge to better appeal to the consumers to derive greater customer satisfaction.

Toucan Weekly Roundup – 9 June 2017

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Filipino startup raises funding to reach the world’s offline people through the phone

With more than half of the world’s population unconnected to the internet (UN BroadBand Commission, 2016), current marketing strategies leave a large majority of consumers untapped. EngageSparks, a startup from the Philippines, aims to connect businesses to unconnected consumers through a less common marketing platform – Phone and SMS campaigns. With an increase in funding along with their clientele of large names (Google and Facebook), EngageSparks inclusive marketing is likely to bring businesses new customers.

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Brief: After bank takeover, Indonesia’s Salim Group plans push in digital payments

Salim Group’s recent acquisition of majority shares of Ina Perdana, Indonesia’s local bank, shows the groups increased interest in finance technology. Along with their convenience store chain – Indomaret, Salim Group aims to introduce peer-to-peer payment technology into their consumers everyday life.

Amazon’s Lending Business for Online Merchants Gains Momentum

Other than using machine learning for its logistical processes, Amazon is using its algorithm to identify SMEs eligibility for a loan. Amazon’s lending business has grown substantially since its launch in 2011. According to Amazon, interest rates are competitive and lower than traditional lenders. Amazon’s entry into the lending business presents a challenge for traditional lenders and greater options for businesses.

1 in 4 Consumers Bank Mobile-Only

In many urban societies, smart phones are playing an increasing presence in everyday lives. A study by Malauzai indicates that 1 in 4 consumers do all their banking on their mobile. The increase in mobile banking is largely attributed to technology advancements and shifting consumer behaviours.

Toucan Weekly Roundup – 19 May 2017

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Fintech, Payments and Asia Focused Articles

Singapore’s longest established bank tells us three trends fintech startups cannot ignore.

Many fintech startups dream of having their solutions adopted by top banks. The problem is that many times, their solutions do not meet the regulatory compliance or are difficult to commercialize and integrate with the existing systems of banks. The top fintech trends right now include digital tools in wealth management, new data points for credit and financing and streamlined operations with Artificial Intelligence.

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Singapore fintech startup 4xLabs offers solutions to forex firms; raises US$1.5M from Dymon Asia, OSK Ventures

Singapore based 4xLabs has secured US$1.5 million in pre-Series A round of funding from Dymon Asia Ventures and OSK Ventures. 4xLabs is a fintech startup that provides a one stop suite of services for money changers that helps them improve their top line by helping them acquire new business, optimize their price setting and scale their business. It also helps businesses grow their bottom line by improving efficiency, managing cost of stock and facilitating compliance risk management.


Fintech unicorn TransferWise reaches profitability, planning ‘new financial services’

Fintech unicorn TransferWise has announced that it has reached profitability this calendar year and is cash-generating. Transferwise allows its customers to send and receive money across borders for a fraction of the charges imposed on bank transfers. To do that, it uses a p2p system that matches users according to the currencies they want to send and receive, ensuring that payouts are made without funds ever actually crossing borders.


Fintech startup Telr raises $3 mn

Mumbai based fintech startup Telr has baaged Series B funding amounting to $3 million from Innovations East. Telr is a payment gateway aggregator of multiple payment methods like cards and online banking, offering a set of unified APIs and tools that enable businesses to accept and manage online payments via web, mobile and social media. With growth of over $500 million worth transactions annually, Telr anticipates reaching $1 billion worth of transactions per year by end 2017.

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Alibaba Makes Its First Fintech Investment in Hong Kong

Alibaba has expanded its investment portfolio in Hong Kong and has chosen Qupital to be its first fintech investment in the city. Qupital is Hong Kong’s first and largest online invoice discounting exchange. It allows companies to raise finance against their receivables by connecting them with professional investors, hedge funds and family offices. Lack of access to working capital is a big problem for Hong Kong’s startups and SMEs. Qupital is positioning itself to address this major problems and help solve the reported $200 million SME financing gap by allowing them to turn their invoices into cash.


Toucan Weekly Roundup – 12 May 2017

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Fintech, Lending and Asia Focused Articles

3 things Asia can learn from Sweden’s booming fintech scene

Sweden’s Fintech sector has been influential in bringing about a cashless society, something that Asian Countries like Singapore and South Korea are hoping to emulate. There are 3 key lessons that Asian Countries can take away from this case study. Firstly, Fintech ventures should actively address specific needs and tailor their services according to the prevalent attitudes of their market. Secondly, Fintech companies should simplify lending and borrowing experience for consumers. Thirdly, Fintech startups should seek collaboration with government and traditional financial institutions.

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Former Citi Chairman and Asia Pacific CEO Shirish Apte invests in fintech startup Invoice Bazaar

Invoice Bazaar, a supply chain SME finance platform headquartered in UAE, with operations in Singapore and India, has received an undisclosed sum in investment from Shirish Apte, former CEO and Chairman Asia Pacific of Citigroup. Invoice Bazaar is a technology platform that offers supply chain finance, receivables finance and dynamic discounting. The company helps connect large buyers with SME suppliers, which enables them to avail early payment on their receivables.


“Asian fintech is a man’s world. But I’m now trying to change that”

Anna Vanessa Haotanto is the CEO of The New Savvy, Asia’s leading financial & career platform for women. She is also the head of the women in fintech group at the Singapore Fintech Association, a non-profit organization that encourages industry collaboration. The New Savvy provides content to help women make better informed investment decisions, empowering women by transforming their money relationship.


Mirador Financial Raises $7M to help banks compete with marketplace lenders

Banks continue to lose business to online lenders that can approve and offer small business loans in a matter of minutes. Fintech startups like Mirador have developed technology that lets banks offer similar convenience. By partnering with such Fintech startups, more banks will be able to level the playing field with online lenders who are able to offer fast and easy small business loans as well as maintain their lending relationships with small business customers.


Investors are busy people, so Funding Societies created an App for them to invest on-the-go

Funding Societies has announced the launch of its new investor mobile app that will offer the platform’s investors more convenience across all activities, from the sign-up all the way to the actual investing. Funding Societies helps connect SMEs with investors through an online marketplace. New users can apply and sign up to become investors entirely on the app. Additional features like advance notification for upcoming loans and low balance reminders ensure that investors will not miss an investment opportunity again.

Toucan Weekly Round Up – 5 May 2017

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Fintech, Payments and Asia Focused Articles

Your online, mobile, and social behaviour are now data-points used by fintech startups and governments in scoring credit-worthiness

Imagine a world where authoritarian governments and fintech companies monitor everything you do, amass huge amounts of data on almost every interaction you make, and award you a single score that measures how ‘trustworthy’ you are. China has been pushing to develop a nationwide social credit system that aims to generate a score for individuals and institution in the country based on data from tax filings and driving demerits. The score will also function as a signal mechanism for authorities about whom or what deserves to be penalized.


3 Reasons Banks are collaborating with Fintech Startups

Technology is impacting every sector including finance, contributing to the popularity of fintech startups – businesses that leverage AI and machine learning to create better financial services. Large financial corporations are starting to invest and partner with fintech to ensure digital advancement and growth. The 3 main benefits banks gain when investing in fintech companies include faster innovation, more accurate decisions and solving industry specific problems.


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Australian Fintech Payments Startup Airwallex Raises A$17 Million from Mastercard, Tencent, Sequoia China

Australian cross-border payments Fintech startup Airwallex has raised a A$17 million in a Series A funding round that saw participation from Mastercard, Tencent and Sequoia Capital China, in a bid to fuel its international expansion. Airwallex enables SMEs to make cross-border transactions at mid-market interbank exchange rates that are effectively cheaper than traditional wire transfers. The platform uses big data analytics, quantitative models and a sophisticated foreign exchange and payment engine to avoid volatility and inflated margins in foreign exchange markets.


How other countries can learn from China’s digital payment platforms

At a macro level, digital payment services have the potential to dramatically improve living standards for large sections of the population, especially in developing countries, through increased transparency, security, cost savings, and financial inclusion, particularly for women. For payment providers, e-commerce firms and social networks, one lesson they could apply is to attract users by building on existing e-commerce platforms and social networks, using strategic incentives to deepen usage.


API Innovation coming from inside and outside banking

For the last several years, the financial services industry has been undergoing a transformation that has led to changes in business models, delivery mechanisms, clients, and more. Consumer needs and expectations have shifted as new demographics of clients enter the market and existing clients demand digital offerings. As financial services regulations have tightened, the burden on financial services institutions has increased, putting pressure on them to adopt APIs from Fintech companies and third party providers.

NBFCs, MFIs and their hidden “unique unfair” Fintech advantage

Southeast Asia’s consumer finance scene is an interesting beast. While formal banks serve the top 5-10% of working class, Non-Bank Financing Companies (NBFCs) or Micro-Finance Institutions (MFIs) takes care of the next 25-30% of rising under-banked. As a result, close to 150 million under-banked consumers in countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines are served much less meaningfully than their “banked” counterparts due to a gross lack of automation, digitization and ‘data-fication’ in the traditional workflows of NBFCs/MFIs.

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Source: Toucan financial inclusion pyramid

While this huge group of consumers lose out on key aspects of financial services such as convenience of service, fast loan-turnaround time, and more inclusive financing offerings; NBFCs/MFIs are actually leaving a TON of potential business revenue on the table by underserving their target market.

While things look pretty grim currently for the shrinking traditional financing scene – the fact is, with all major financial institutions including banks around the world looking into digitizing and going data-driven, NBFCs and MFIs might just have an edge over traditional banks.

What, seriously?

To understand how, let’s take a look at the three main challenges slowing banks down from going digital despite the urgency to change and their deep pockets:

1. Consumer Inertia – most banks have some form of digital customer management platform in place, while this can be great, it can be a bane as moving customers from 1 digital platform to another digital platform that is marginally better can be difficult. Oh, and the usual affluent bank customers = older customers who are more financially stable but way more resistant to change.

2. Legacy technology debt – banking technology are built over multiple decades in chunks, the amount of “technology debt” built up is no joke and totally out of sync with today’s Application-Programming-Interface (API) driven standards. In many instances, technology stack have to be built from the ground-up. And for those who might not know: core-banking vendors such as Silverlake Axis and Infosys can be pretty pricey.

3. Legacy regulatory frameworks – working with regulators have never been a swift process. Banks are highly regulated and any change in operations tends to require approvals by multiple bodies. With so many stakeholders to please, change is naturally slow.

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Now, let’s contrast these points when NBFCs/MFIs embark on digitization and data-fication of their operations:

1. Consumer Inertia – NBFCs/MFIs serve primarily the under-banked/unbanked population, which usually consists of a much younger group of consumers receptive to change. More importantly, there is no inertia per se – any digital platform that makes their lives accessing financial services easier is at least 10 times better than the current non-existent platform.

2. Legacy technology debt – Compared to banks, most NBFCs and MFIs have at most a 3-5 men technology department. Therefore (ironically), because of the lack of technology in the first place, adopting new intuitive business/enterprise technology provided by more agile FinTech startups such as Oradian (European based offering user-centric core banking solutions for MFIs) or Mirador (US-based provider of small business lending platform) is way more straightforward. Fortunately too, with a leaner technology solution package, the price tag of adoption of their solutions is drastically reduced as compared to their full-fledged core-banking counterparts.

3. Legacy regulatory frameworks – most NBFCs and MFIs are subject to regulations too, but unlike full-fledged banks, there is a lot more leeway to operate without the need to obtain a million approvals for every single action performed.

As a result, the only thing standing between NBFCs/MFIs and their “unique unfair” Fintech advantage comes down to one single variable: the willingness and urgency to adapt to a time of great change where an unstoppable digital trend can bring with it plenty of mutual benefit for both supply and demand forces.  NBFCs such as “Global Dominion” and “Asialink Finance” are some examples of forward thinking companies that are moving quickly to reap the benefits of digitization.

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An old Chinese saying goes “Being on a boat against the current, you either progress, or you get left behind”

Will you be left behind?


Toucan Weekly Round Up – 28 April 2017

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Fintech, Payments and SEA Focused Articles

Jack Ma’s Ant Financial merges with Lazada’s HelloPay Group

Ant Financial, Alibaba’s financial affiliate, has announced that it has merged with HelloPay Group, Lazada’s online payment platform. HelloPay will be rebranded as Ant Financial’s online and mobile payment solution Alipay in its respective Southeast Asian markets. Integrating with Alipay will help Lazada improve its online payment solution, given Alipay’s quality in payment security and systems.


Alibaba-backed Paytm forays into digital gold; consumers can now buy, store, and sell gold on their smartphones

India’s leading digital payments company Paytm has foraged into digital gold business that allows users to buy, sell and store gold on their mobile phones. For this service, Paytm has partnered with precious metals processing facility MMTC-PAMP India. Users can buy and sell gold using their Paytm account, which will then be stored in lockers run by MMTC-PAMP. Users can also redeem accumulated gold in the form of coins or minted products and get them delivered to their homes. Alternatively, he/she can sell their accumulated gold back online instantly and the money will be credited into his/her account.

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Flux, a fintech startup found by ex-Revolut employees, wants to make paper receipts obsolete

Flux, a London-based fintech startup is on a mission to make store receipts truly digital. The company has built a software platform that bridges the gap between itemised receipt data captured by a merchant’s point-of-sale (POS) system and what little information that typically shows up on your bank statement or mobile banking app. By partnering with merchants, their payment processor/POS systems and banks, Flux hope to make item level receipts digital and link them to your bank statement, in a seamless and intuitive manner.


TransferWise sets up Singapore office to serve as Asia-Pacific HQ

Online money transfer startup TransferWise is setting up its Asia-Pacific hub in Singapore, allowing it to reach more customers in the region. The startup allows its customers to send and receive money across borders for a fraction of the charges imposed on bank transfers. To do that, it uses a p2p system that matches users according to the currencies they want to send and receive, ensuring that payouts are made without funds ever actually crossing borders.


WeChat is more ‘sticky’ than Facebook

WeChat is stickier than ever, creeping into new aspects of our daily life and being used for an even longer period of time everyday. WeChat is now used for more than four solid hours per day by one-third of its users, up from 16.3 percent in 2015. The average daily time spent on WeChat has also risen up to 66 minutes, as compared to Facebook whose average users spend 50 minutes on it everyday. 82% of people have done office work or personal business on WeChat, mainly coordinating tasks, transferring files, taking video calls, and making transactions using the cashless WeChat Pay system, vindicating WeChat’s speedy rollout of new features in the past few years, covering online shopping and payments.

Toucan Weekly Round Up – 3 April 2017

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Fintech, Payments and SEA Focused Articles

Grab confirms it will acquire Kudo to boost digital payments

Grab has joined forces with Kudo after signing an agreement to acquire the Indonesian Payment Startup for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition of Kudo is due to Grab’s interest in expanding their digital payments system GrabPay. Kudo’s existing payments platform helps hundreds of thousands of customers sell prepaid phone credits, tickets and clothing in Indonesia. With this acquisition, Kudo’s own platform will be integrated into Grab’s own existing payment ecosystem.


Fintech startup soCash raises US$600,000 from angel investors

SoCash is a Fintech startup that provides digital cash management platform for banks. The platform enables users to withdraw cash from avenues like neighbourhood shops by placing orders on the bank’s app, selecting a cashpoint nearby and picking up the cash at the said outlet. The startup recently raised US$600,000 from angel investors and also became the first Fintech to receive the Financial Sector Technology & Innovation grant from MAS. SoCash’s goal is to enable convenient access to cash and reduce the cost of cash processing for banks.

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Ayopop raises U$1M from GREE Ventures to let Indonesians pay bills via an app

Ayopop is an Indonesian digital payments platform that aims to help Indonesians pay their utility and mobile subscriptions via a mobile app. It has announced that it has raised US$1 million in a seed round led by GREE Ventures. Although most Indonesian are still paying their bills and utilities offline, startups like Ayopop aim to raise awareness and open up opportunities for online digital payments in the country.


Japan: Major bank Sumitomo developing biometric ID fintech software

Japanese Bank Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group has announced that they are researching and developing a biometrics software that uses voice recognition, facial recognition and fingerprint verification to carry out online payments. This move is part of a continuing effort to increase the security of financial payments and transactions in light of recent cyberattacks on Swift, the messaging system used by banks to conduct transfers. Sumitomo’s technology could prove to be a game changer for businesses that are looking for stronger and more affordable security measures for their online payments.


Inside SelfScore’s No-File Credit Model

SelfScore is a Fintech startup that provides credit access to international students. The startup uses machines learning to determine the creditworthiness of students who lack a credit history, offering them a credit card that they can afford. The startup’s Analytics Based Credit Decisioning (ABCD) system considers Eligibility, Identity, Stability of Identity and Ability to Pay for approval, in the absence of traditional metrics like SSN and Credit Scores. By providing international students with access to credit that they otherwise wouldn’t qualify for, the startup also helps students build their credit scores.