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New Union Cambodia Strikes Technology Partnership with Philip Bank Cambodia
New Union Cambodia, one of the earliest known alternative finance technology companies in Cambodia, has signed a memorandum of understanding for collaboration with Phillip Bank Cambodia to develop financial services product for the local consumers and small business owners. We believe that by working together, more convenient and innovative financial services can be provided to the general Cambodian public.
After many years of strong growth and exceptional economic performance, Cambodia is set to become a middle-income country. However, general consumer and small business access to credit still remain a significant hurdle. Philip Bank and New Union sees this need in the financial services industry and plan to roll out a series of financial products tailored to Cambodian needs. This will be accomplished via a collaborative effort using credit data analytics.
Poh Wen Yi, Managing Director for New Union Cambodia, said: “New Union is very excited to be cooperating with Philip Bank on this initiative that will contribute to further growth and innovation to the Cambodian credit market.
We are also equally pleased that a like-minded partner can be found in Philip Bank who has the foresight to see the untapped potential present in Cambodia. Together, we can better serve the personal aspirations or small business needs of the Cambodian population.”
New Fintech Company
Han Peng Kwang, General Manager for Phillip Bank Cambodia expressed: “PhillipBank is delighted to partner with New Union, an established and successful Fintech company from Singapore to provide another alternative and avenue for Cambodians looking to obtain personal loans for investment or personal consumption. This collaboration will simplify the loan application and customers will be able to obtain the loan within 5 working days from date of application submitted subject to meeting the terms and conditions of the loan.”
Phillip Bank Cambodia and New Union Cambodia share common background as Singaporean companies who believe that the maturity of financial services in Singapore can also be brought to the rest of South East Asia.
In the long term, the partnership will allow better understanding of the gaps in currently available credit products; thus allowing customization and innovation that leads to value-add in many aspects, including but not limited to potential accessibility, lowered cost or transparency of the said financial services. This is aligned with Phillip Bank and New Union’s goal to create an inclusive financial services eco-system in Cambodia.
Recipe for A Successful Internet-Based Start-Up
How Did This Duo Build Up A Business That Spans Eight Cities in Such A Short Span of time?
In his ground-breaking book, “Zero to One,” Peter Thiel starts by saying “The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.”
When Jeffrey Liu and Robert Pachter, both fitness enthusiasts, moved to Singapore in 2014, they realised that a centralised list of the city’s fitness studios was not available. That set them thinking and they decided to launch GuavaPass, a facility that allows members access to a wide range of studio classes for a fixed monthly fee.
Today, the company’s subscriber base is in six figures and its footprint includes Bangkok, Hong Kong, Dubai, Shanghai, Manila, Jakarta, and Taipei in addition to Singapore.
How did this duo build up a business that spans eight cities in such a short span of time? Their journey can serve as a lesson to aspiring entrepreneurs and even to those who have established ventures and want to take them to the next level.
Relentless focus on the Customer
Every commercial enterprise says that the customer is at the centre of their efforts. But how many go to the extent that the GuavaPass team did?
When the company launched its website, it received an overwhelming response. But as soon as the first 100 customers came on board, new membership was suspended. Why did the GuavaPass management do this? What was the reason to turn away paying customers and put them on a waiting list?
They also had to coordinate closely with the fitness studios so that when GuavaPass members went to one of the company’s studio partners’ their bookings were honoured.
In fact, in the initial stages, the promoters actually visited studios on a regular basis to see if their customers were being treated well.
Execution is key
Mike Tyson, former world heavyweight boxing champion says, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face … Then, like a rat, they stop in fear and freeze.”
When GuavaPass ran a free trial campaign in Bangkok, it expected large numbers of clients to convert to a paid membership. That had been its earlier experience. But the outcome in Bangkok was totally different. The conversion rate was less than 20%.
Importance of the team
Jeffrey Liu points out that each employee is sourced through an extensive network of friends and business contacts and job postings are never used. Interestingly, most of them are fitness enthusiasts who share a common zeal for physical activity and the benefits that it brings.
In many instances, newer employees feel left out, not part of the inner circle. This can have disastrous consequences for the organisation.
But GuavaPass has taken great care to ensure that its culture has not got diluted as it has expanded into cities across the region. It has done this by having a team member in charge of every new market that it goes into. It does not take on local partners as it fears that its brand and its way of thinking could get compromised.
Why do some startups succeed and others fail?
Bill Gross, CEO of Idealab, a highly successful business incubator, has studied the working of a large number of startups to understand what separates the best companies from the also-rans and those that do not make it at all.
Fortunately for GuavaPass, their company was started at a juncture when Singaporeans were becoming increasingly fitness-conscious. But it was very difficult for them to find a reliable and convenient way to get details about the various studios in their vicinity. Jeffrey Liu’s and Rob Pachter’s venture was born at the right time to capture this market.