The concept of identity and growing up in multiple countries
Pivoting the business model in the first 6 months of CrediLinq
Risk as a Service
The importance of building a scalable technology stack
Using alternative data to underwrite credit
Just how important financial inclusion is
How real partnerships help drive regional expansion
Capital raising in a volatile environment and VC resilience
How Do You Accelerate Financial Inclusion?
The Ecosystem Approach
That’s the Passion That Really Ignited the Fire
The Transmission Mechanism Has Increased
It Started to Become More Data-Driven
Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):
Michael Waitze 0:04
Let’s go. Hi, this is Michael Waitze. And welcome back to the Asia Tech Podcast. Today we are joined by Deep Singh, the Founder and Group CEO at CrediLinq.ai. Deep, thank you so much for doing this. How’s everything going today?
Deep Singh 0:20
Yeah, well, first, thanks for having me. Absolute pleasure. Things are going pretty well.
Michael Waitze 0:25
In my next life, I want an office like that, where like, I have the name of my company behind me, it just looks so great. Anyway, before we get into the central part of this conversation, let’s give our listeners a little bit of you’re actually quite interesting background for some context.
Deep Singh 0:41
Yeah, I’ll try to stick away from the professional and try to introduce myself as a person first, which is always essential and important. Yeah, so born in India, raised in Australia, spent 22 years of my life there, and then been in Singapore the last 11 years or so, a little confused, but I call myself a citizen of the world and come with a variety of different perspectives, not just across cultures, but across business. And I think as we’ve built our credit link, we bring that kind of undertone to our hiring processes, where we bring an incredible team with different perspectives, different experiences, super important. Yeah, absolutely. And then on the work side, you know, been in the finance space for an extended period of time, 17 years and saw a huge opportunity and a huge gap that needed to be addressed. And it was an a gap that was really accelerated during COVID times. And that’s really how do you accelerate financial inclusion, help businesses grow through tough troubling times, but then also ensure that you’re bringing enough technology, to financial services to be able to scale and grow a business in this space,
Michael Waitze 1:48
there’s a lot to unpack there. You call yourself a global citizen or a citizen of the world. I like to call myself a third culture adult, right. So I have a daughter whose mother is Japanese. She’s really like, you know, born and raised kind of in Japan, but then graduated from high school in Thailand and kind of like he has lived in a bunch of different places. Not she doesn’t have a professional career like yours, for sure. That would be weird. But I consider myself a third culture, adult. And the reason why is because I’ve lived all over the world as well and traveled all over to and I think it does inform the way not we not just the way we hire, but the way we look at the people with whom we’re doing business. Is that fair as well?
Deep Singh 2:25
Yeah, that’s right. Going back, probably a generation and growing up in primary school and in high school in Australia, which is a very diverse and immigration rich country. And it’s been accepted for a long period of time. This concept of identity was always fundamental to me, right? Because as a five year old, migrating from India and growing up as an Indian household and still supporting and during the cricket, how was that? How was I Australian? And how did I become an Australian and what was my new identity, and share a funny story with you, which will reflect on you know, some of the challenges we face in terms of identity, my children, went to local school and go to local school here in Singapore. And for their national day, they needed to take a photo under the national flag. And of course, they identify themselves as Australian because their mom was born in Australia, I’m in Australia, and their passports are Australian. But they got placed under the Indian flag for the photo. So we’ve seen the school photos on an Indian flag, and they were a little bit confused. And what I told them was that once you start identifying yourself as a global citizen, or even as you characterized it, when you self accepts, and then to, you start recognizing that there’s a lot more people like you who have different perspectives, different countries they’ve been raised in, and you don’t have to just belong to one, you can belong to many. And you know, that identity is absolutely crucial.
Michael Waitze 3:52
I think it’s so important. You know, I lived in Japan from when I was 24, until when I was 46. So my entire adult life, and frankly, my entire professional life really was in Tokyo. Yeah, but I don’t look Japanese. And it’s good and bad, right, particularly from an identity standpoint, because when I’m in Japan, if you close your eyes, and I behave, I can behave like a Japanese adult, because I’ve done that. But I don’t have the benefit of looking Japanese. So when I walk into a restaurant or walk into a bank, I kind of get the foreigner treatment in the same way, right in this weird people put other people into categories. And it just makes this identity thing really, really interesting for us, particularly as we go forward. Anyway, I just think it’s an interesting way to look at the world as well. Talk to me about this market gap that you saw, and I like this idea of like trying to help you be more financially inclusive and also trying to help people accelerate growth in a place is that growth focused on MNCs? Is it focused on individuals? Is it focused on SMEs like where what is the focus of credit length?
Deep Singh 4:56
Yeah, fantastic question. It’s actually not where we started, to be honest, we had a very strong pivot in the first six months of our business. And the reason for that was we actually weren’t on the path of being very similar to a digital lender, if you call it that, where we had developed the technology and the capability to go ahead and take financial statements and bank statements and alternative data and digestive very quickly, we could make a credit decision within one to three minutes. But what we realized was that there’s a tremendous number of existing platforms out there. And those platforms, we would characterize as E commerce platforms, procure to pay platforms, and payment processing companies. And a lot of the businesses use those platforms as their daily life. If they are selling a product within Indonesia or Malaysia, they might use a sharpie or Lazada. If they’re selling product through Amazon, it’s hard to distill the size and scale of these businesses. What we realized very quickly was that none of them were getting access to capital because of their non traditional nature of the business that they operated in. So we pivoted very quickly when we recognize that and started building our technology stack, so we could offer it as an embedded finance product to these platforms. How does that look? Yeah, great question again, because in some ways, a lot of these platforms now want to move into the lending space. And the reason for that is they’ve seen margin compression due to competition. And when you can start adding or clawing back margin through lending and interest rates, you start having a new revenue line and a new service proposition to keep your clients on your platform. So let’s just use an example. Let’s say there’s two competing e commerce platforms in Singapore. And one offers embedded finance where you can get checkout financing an extension of payment terms immediately, and one that does not. If you’re a seller, you’re going to resonate, and you’re going to move to the one that offers you the ability to have more working capital.
Michael Waitze 6:57
But is that finance for the sellers? Or is it finance for the buyers? Or in some ways that so subtly indifferent, that it doesn’t matter? Does that make sense? So there were so if I’m the seller, I want to buy more product, right? Because I’m anticipating more demand. So if I can get finance from the platform, that benefits me, but also on checkout, if the buyer can get financing as well, that helps me too. So is it both sides? Or is it just one of those?
Deep Singh 7:24
Yeah, that’s Yeah, that’s right. So we call this approach the ecosystem approach. Because we’ve effectively got three clients, we’ve got the platform partner that we’re working with. So it’s the E commerce platform, they want to do embedded finance, they need a technology stack, and they want to move to market very quickly. So we service them, then we have two specific products. One for sale is called gap financing, where if you’ve got a historical track record of sales, we go ahead and monitor that track record since inception. And we allow you to get financing, which is effectively immediate payment for your sales. And we can also go ahead and give you an extension of credit. So you can hold more inventory. So you can spend into marketing and growth. And then on the buyer side, we do be to be paid later, which as the name would suggest it’s the ability to purchase goods today, and pay us back in 3060 or 90 days, either in increments or installments, or in 90 days upfront.
Michael Waitze 8:19
How do you get access to the data, right? In other words, if I’m sitting on if I’m a seller on Amazon, or sitting, or if I’m a seller on on another platform, I would presume that and I get embedded finance, right. But I’m presuming that those platforms sort of Hoard is probably the wrong word, but protect access to that data so they can use it. But how do you get access to that data to make the financing decisions that you have to do for the sellers? Right?
Deep Singh 8:44
Yeah, sure. You’re absolutely right. There’s always that resistance. When we go through our outreach program with these platforms. And they say, Well, hang on, you need our data to supply this. And we change the vantage point a little we make sure we don’t position ourselves as a competitor or a threat but an enabler. Yeah. So we call it our risk as a service proposition. So when you now start seeing us as your technology and your risk team that’s going to underwrite collect monitoring report for you, everything that happens on your platform becomes a partnership. And when you enter into a partnership, and in business, Michael, you know, it’s as strong as marriage, because there’s a high degree of trust that needs to be there. So we are able to break down that barrier by basically facilitating that trust and ensuring that we are acting in the best interest for that platform. So we do have a number of different ways of securing the data and the way it’s transmitted to us and transmitted back. And we certainly ensure that no client data, leaves, you know, the servers that we have.
Michael Waitze 9:47
Do you find that once you partner with a platform, that you do it in sort of incremental steps like in other words, it’s like walking into the restaurant and saying, like, I’ll have a burger and the burgers really good And they’re like, you know, we also have friends here, and then they give you fries, and you’re like I’m thirsty to kind of thing? Or do you find it just like give them the happy meal right away, I heard is a
Deep Singh 10:10
good way to put it. I think the soaps process really varies. I mean, we’ve been through a seven month sales process to a publicly listed company in Hong Kong. And that publicly listed company had a need, and we develop the products for that need. And then we found that that could be replicated very quickly. Now, they had a very specific need, but not necessarily wanting the fries and the drink, they just wanted the Big Mac, right? So and then they wanted to keep eating a lot of Big Macs, which is okay. Which is completely fine. And then what we’ve done there is really supplement that product offering for the smaller players, because they actually need a little bit more support. And we will help. So things like analytics and reporting. So you can actually have a very clear picture of what you’ve done, what margins you’ve made, is super critical, important. So I’d say it varies depending on type of firm we work with. We’ve also worked with series, a level companies where they’re just at that scaling process. So we get a bit more hands on there, almost from a consulting perspective, saying, Hey, have you thought about your business in this way? Have you thought about capturing this data point, because it actually could help you accelerate? Again, that links back to that partnership approach that you’ve really got to be able to cater to your client, but with the same vein, and a different lens, the VCs will look at that and say, Okay, how highly scalable is that. And that’s why we’ve been incredibly disciplined, around ensuring that the technology stack is very much consistent, and can be scaled across clients, whether they’re series ABC, or listed listed companies.
Michael Waitze 11:45
So I’m not a technologist. But I always considered myself somebody who understood how to use technology to make things scales and to be more productive. And there was always a little bit of a push and pull between the work that I was doing, and the work that the use to call an IT team was doing to support the businesses that we were building, whether it was inside Morgan Stanley, or Goldman Sachs, it was really not that different. At least the experience wasn’t Are you a technologist as well? And if not, like, how do you get involved in the building out of that tech stack? Because I love doing it. And I’m just curious what your perspective is on that. Nuts?
Deep Singh 12:21
That’s a challenging question, in some ways, because I’ve had no formal training in technology. But I’ve always been passionate about technology. So I’ve spent the last four years as a mentor on Tech Stars, helping startups address some of their challenges. I’m a venture partner at Tenby aura, which is a well regarded venture capital fund. So that gives me some great insights into what’s happening in the world of technology and startups. And that’s the passion that really ignited the fire to address the gap and the problem that we had seen in the market. But I think what I’ve been incredibly good at doing is convincing talented people to follow in the vision that that we’ve set as a firm, so I call it the translator, which is, my team is incredibly good at what they do and have the skill set necessary to translate what we want to address from a problem statement perspective to what that technology solution is. So we’ve got you know, someone like Dinesh Singh, who was CTO at Experian in the credit decisioning and credit scoring space. And then we’ve got people who have come from Moody’s Analytics PRI and Fernando who’s our chief data scientist who worked in quant finance and machine learning for an extended period of time. So not only do they have the credit and business line of sight, but an incredible amount of technical experience. So they would act as the translators. And then the developers get their hands dirty, with all the work that we throw their way.
Michael Waitze 13:47
Sounds like a pretty incredible team. You mentioned VCs earlier. I’m curious if credit link has been funded. And if it has been funded, what has changed in sort of the VC landscape since that funding has occurred? And what does that landscape look like to you today?
Deep Singh 14:07
Yeah, it’s an incredible time right now, because there is a heightened degree of uncertainty. There’s a lot of people who’ve not experienced things like interest rate increases before. Which is weird. If you’re 35 years old, and you’re in Australia, the last interest rate hike was when you’re in high school, right? So ultimately, the market is changing quite dramatically. And that started in public markets. But now it’s transmitted to private markets, and VCs certainly fall in that space. From what we saw, I would say that the, the process of raising capital was a bit more elongated. We don’t try to say we raised our most recent seed round, which was 2.6 million in a very short period of time. It took us about three to four months. And I think a function of that was that there was a lot of heightened volatility. You know, these Y Combinator type emails Riding around telling the world that it was all over. But VCs are incredibly resilient through this process, because they’ve raised the capital. And it becomes a conversation on backing the right businesses. And then of course, backing him at the right price. Because if you go back 1218 months, companies that were raising series A and Series B rounds, what would the metrics, you know, what did the unit economics look like for those businesses as they were scaling? And I think they’re a bit more granular today, and a bit more challenging of startups. And perhaps it was 12 or 18 months ago, I mean, just the sheer our experience, we raised a million dollar angel round in February of 2020. Sorry, 2021. That was, and that took a hole of eight minutes. And then raising 3.6 million took us about three and a half to four months, right? So you could already see that it had changed very, very quickly.
Michael Waitze 16:01
But what was I really curious about what those conversations were like, just for people that can’t be in the room, obviously, the eight minute thing is maybe as you were, you know, maybe you knew the team that you were negotiating with, maybe they had worked with you in your previous life, and they just said, we can trust this guy, we know he has the experience, the CTO is great, the chief operating officer was great, the team is really good. And because of the way the environment was in 2021, it was just different. They could say, we should back this, like it could have been an idea that already been thinking about. But if you fast forward to today, or when you raise this next round, the whole environment was different. And even if they knew you, or or didn’t, they themselves had to answer different questions to their limited partners as well. Right. So what were those conversations like and how were they different?
Deep Singh 16:46
Yes, sure. So I’d say you’re right in that, depending on the stage at which you’re raising capital, the metrics that you need to meet a very different for sure. And that eight minute comment is factually correct. But a lot of it was seeing the credibility of the team, being able to see that there’s a large market that can be addressed. So the TAM was very large, there was some immediate recognition of having done this type of business before in our previous organizations, and now wanting to build it out for ourselves. So I’d say you’re spot on in that respect that the the checklist, if you will, was very different. And then for the more recent rounds, I learned a lot of acronyms. What is your MMR? What is your ACV? What is your LTV? What is your gross churn? What is your burn rate, and that indicated to me that it started becoming more data driven, which is great for us, because what we do is we’re a data analytics company using alternative data underwrite credit. And that started playing a bit more in our favor, in that we could start focusing our energy on delivering those metrics, and therefore be able to engage in the same conversation as what the VCs would like to engage. So it became less about the team and I mean, still relevant to the team and the technology was still relevant, but then showing your traction and your track record. And I think that’s also now evolving into large companies into the series ACO space space.
Michael Waitze 18:13
I mean, it shouldn’t have always been that way. In my estimation, do you think that your background in financial services gave you a little bit more and I always talk in relative terms comfort? Because you know, like I just made a note to myself like all this stuff is cyclical, isn’t it? And it always is, right? Like somebody posted on Twitter about a month or so ago, like the end of cheap money is here. And I just kind of responded like, isn’t the end of cheap money just cyclical? Like it always is like, don’t you think these things are simple? And don’t you feel you can have some comfort? Because, like you said, if you were in high school when the last interest rate raise came in miss him super scary, like, Okay, this is going to be forever because low rates have been forever. But if you’re like I am and you graduated from high school in like the 1930s, you’ve seen multiple cycles. I made you last week finally working. But you’ve seen multiple interest rate cycles. And I used to trade treasuries as well, right. So for me, like the Fed path is something I’m always watching. This cyclicality must give you comfort, though. No.
Deep Singh 19:14
Yes, it does, because it creates tremendous opportunity. Given the last cycle, it was exceptionally elongated. If you consider previous cycles, 678 years if you could call them that. And now we’re talking about a 15 year cycle that’s coming to an end with The only hiccup in COVID in between. So I think ultimately, the cycles are still there, they’ve probably gotten a bit longer and a bit more volatile than most would appreciate. And probably a bit more intervention was needed after 2008 and then broadly after COVID. But when you look at what’s happening today around inflation and kind of asset prices, it was certainly on the verge of absurd. So having this corrective mechanism in the market is up salutely necessary, otherwise, you end up in a situation where it’s just zombie firms walking around.
Michael Waitze 20:05
Yeah, for no reason. I want to get your perspective on this too. Again, I was in I’ve been in the financial markets since 1987. So it’s been a while, right. And back then when the Fed was going to raise interest rates, and I use the Fed as a proxy, right, or as a metaphor for central banks everywhere, just the rate at which banks borrow money from central banks, it was almost impossible for regular people to know unless they were reading the Wall Street Journal, which few people did that the Fed was either raising rates or lowering rate lowering rates, right. And frankly, you knew it on the trading desk, because they did something called a coupon pass, they’d actually come in and either buy bonds or short term rates from you, or sell them to you. So you would know like, okay, the Fed signaling the raising rates, they’re lowering rates. But do you think that the access to information and you know, businesses like CNBC, and MSNBC and all these companies that are just in Bloomberg that are constantly talking about financial services and interest rates, that these micro adjustments happen a lot faster, and maybe are more volatile? Does that make sense?
Deep Singh 21:06
Yeah, I think the other part of that point there is that the transmission mechanism has increased rate because it would take time previously, for the interest rate cuts or increases to filter through. But now you’re starting to see it already in consumer sentiment, and house prices, and so forth, transmit a lot faster. You’re right, I think it’s always people are informed a lot more than they used to be. And if you consider the education we would have received, whether it was in the 70s 80s, or 90s, financial education wasn’t given unless you’re specializing in the financial sector. But today, there’s such a large network of support around that if you’re a physiotherapist, and you’re launching a business, there’s now a financial mentoring program for clinics, right, or you can go ahead and do short courses. And I think access to both information as well as education has been helpful. And then if you overlay that with the development of educational platforms, whether it’s on LinkedIn, or whether it’s some other kind of mechanism where you’re learning online, that’s been a tremendous amount of help. And then of course, not to forget the regular YouTube, right, the first thing people would do is Google. And of course, Google’s going to promote the YouTube videos. First, they’ve been tremendously helpful. And what we’ve seen, certainly from the engagements we’ve had, both with the platforms, and also some of the smaller businesses, is that they tend to listen to a lot of influencers in that space, to say, Hey, I launched a $5 million Amazon business, this is how you could do it, right. And they’re receiving a tremendous amount of support and education rather than learning from their own mistakes. And I think that’s incredible.
Michael Waitze 22:49
I think so too. And it’s interesting to me, just how much really great information there is, amidst the massive amount of noise that’s on YouTube. I always say like, if I really want to know something, I just go to YouTube and try to find the best person to tell me about it. You mentioned financial inclusion, and I don’t think it can be separated font from financial literacy. Do you feel like credit like itself has some kind of responsibility or mechanism to educate your potential clients, either on the b2b side, or even on the b2c side at scale so that they can become more literate? If that makes sense?
Deep Singh 23:24
Yes, that’s right. The first part we try to solve for is how do we help their business grow. And when we could speak in the Mecca in basically in the language that they speak, right, which is, I know, when I purchase this inventory, and buy it at this price and sell it at this price with this expense, this is my margin. So what we think about there is educating them of what difference can credit make to you, using the same language, which is now you can buy more, right, and the additional expense item is going to be this component around interest. And this is what your margins are going to be looking like. But you can also increase volume, and therefore you should be more profitable. So what we try to do is send out fact sheets, and we work hand in hand with the platform’s we work with to make sure that they have the right product information, the right fact sheet information to be able to share with their sellers and buyers to ensure that they understand the terms of what they’re signing up to. And I do believe that this space is a bit more sensitive than say, the top end of town where you have qualified legal teams reviewing contracts, and you have qualified business managers with tremendous amounts of scaling experience. So we do consider that and and we’re very conscious of it. And as we grow, I think we’ll add a bit more formal structure around that financial education piece that we can deliver through the platforms that they’re already a part of. And that’s something that’s probably phase two as part of our growth.
Michael Waitze 24:50
Do you feel a social responsibility at any level particularly operating in this region?
Deep Singh 24:56
Incredibly, if you consider you know, the experience As the team, a lot of us have come from larger organizations, and that perspective was certainly important, because of course, large organizations have to report and we undertook a lot of training and development in that space, I think the impact we can make is tremendously greater. Yeah. So therefore, we take it much more seriously. And what I mean by that is the ability to change someone’s course, through financial inclusion, and the difference you can make in their daily life because as a single entrepreneur, or as a partnership between husband and wife, you know, selling, you know, warung store in Indonesia, that is your livelihood. Yeah. Right. So I think we really drive ourselves knowing we can make an incredible difference. Do you see differences
Michael Waitze 25:46
in the way different countries and different cultures react to these types of services? Do you know what I mean? Like it’s a different selling in Indonesia than it is in Vietnam? And then in the Philippines, as well? And what are some of those differences? Yeah,
Deep Singh 26:01
it’s been both positive as well, as a learning experience, I think, you know, I didn’t realize how focused particular markets were on price rather than user experience. And just to share an example with you, we went live in Hong Kong, with this listed client, and we’ve started to analyze data and start offering credit. And we decision within one to three seconds. So you can press a button, and we take all that data and we decision or we can give $100,000 loan. And they would come back to us with Oh, can you negotiate the price? Okay, that’s, that’s unusual. But sure, let’s entertain this conversation.
Michael Waitze 26:43
Interesting. We got to
Deep Singh 26:44
a point where the relevant entrepreneurs said, Actually, I’ve got 25 people that work for me, even if it takes me a month, using my three people in my finance team to get a loan from a bank at 1%. Cheap, I’d rather do that because that way, I keep them busy. Whereas if I take the same example, and we’ve gone live in Australia, where prices actually never negotiated, and that’s because they’re looking for the user experience, they don’t want to spend three, four or five weeks negotiating with a bank or another FinTech to get credit. They’re super excited that in a platform that they use every day, they can now access capital for their business that they want to drive. So it’s been incredible that, you know, user experience, price and all of these factors. And absolutely critical in one building a hook and then to serving the client.
Michael Waitze 27:40
It this, I think gets back to this idea of being a citizen of the world, for me, at least right and being like a third culture adult, is that I’ve always found that, like, my experience in Japan taught me that, that culture shock to me is normal, right? I go into a new place. And I just figured, like, Okay, I’ll use chopsticks as an example, right? I don’t I just forget about how to use a fork and a knife. And I’ll just go into whatever the new place is, and try to figure it out. But when I go back to the old place, I’m always wondering, whoa, I didn’t realize it was like this kind of thing. And if we were sitting down having dinner, I would go, I’m really curious to go like country by country, just like, I know, Vietnam is different than Indonesia. But I don’t know how, and you have this kind of unique window into those things. We don’t have to litigate the whole thing now. But I just think it’s super cool for people to understand that Asia as a whole, obviously, is made up of all these little different pockets in Southeast Asia, for sure. But even inside of countries, right, like the North of Thailand is very different than the South of Thailand. And for people to understand that I think it’s super important, particularly from a product development and product rollout standpoint. Does that make sense as well?
Deep Singh 28:47
Absolutely. And that just links back to my comment, right, that we were learning. Yeah, it was an incredible learning experience. Because even with that vantage point, we can actually get a huge amount of feedback from the users. And then how do you actually start tweaking for those little differences in each culture in each country, we get to cheat a little bit, Michael, I’m gonna give away a bit of a secret sauce, right? That if you’re a Singapore based FinTech like we are, and you want to move, and grow into Indonesia, Vietnam and Philippines or even Malaysia, you now need to hire in those jurisdictions. But because we sell ourselves as the partner and the trusted, risk team and tech team for the platforms we work with, we get to utilize their capabilities, their local know how their knowledge of the business that they’ve operated for an extended period of time to go into a market in that true partnership fashion. And I think that’s helped us an incredible amount because we don’t need to go and build up people capabilities in those markets, because we have platforms on the ground that offer that to us.
Michael Waitze 29:48
But this is the big secret about partnering properly with with other companies, right or other entities and that is, how can we leverage the knowledge that they’ve already gained and the experience that they’ve already had so that we don’t have to go through and try to recreate the We’ll write in some cases you will and you’re lucky, right? Lucky to the wrong word, you’re fortunate to be able to go through this learning process. Because if nothing else, it will inform the way you enter every country like, wait a second, What haven’t we thought about as opposed to we know we have to do X. And you can kind of lean on your partners a little bit and say, Hey, what’s the thing we definitely shouldn’t to do here?
Deep Singh 30:20
That’s right. And that’s how we start the conversation, we started with a tremendous number of questions. And I think that also helps, because we don’t pretend to know the market better than our partners do. And when they realize that they’re adding a tremendous amount of value to the conversation as to how to get the user experience, right, how do you actually make sure the product is right for the people on our platform supremacist that’s incredibly powerful for scaling.
Michael Waitze 30:46
So we spend a lot of time talking about how the speed of information in the financial markets has changed the way that individuals but also companies can both understand what’s happening in the world of finance, but also react to it. I feel like geopolitics is the same way. Right? In the same sense that you could have Nixon go to China in the 1970s. And nobody had any idea what he was talking about until three months later, there was an article about it in, you know, the New York Times. But today that stuff travels around pretty quickly to what’s the impact on your business for that?
Deep Singh 31:21
Yeah, that’s right. In today’s world, right, there’s always noise. And if you go back through history, there’s always noise. And what I mean by noise is geopolitical is amiss this morning, Pelosi here has landed in Taiwan, that’s going to have huge ramifications, not just in the relationship between China and the US, but actually how supply chains change when companies now start getting banned for imports into China, a Taiwan. So I think ultimately, what we try to consider there is, what are the positive factors that we could try to support? And what I mean by positive factors is yes, there’s disruption. Yes, there’s noise. Yes, there’s going to be ramifications. But if, for example, in Taiwan, firms now need to move out their production facilities to Indonesia or Thailand, in order to still export into China, and therefore China to allow those inputs to come in? How does that change the way people need to think about setting up factories, having enough data centers having a local workforce, and I think those are all positive for supply chains moving out of places like China and Taiwan, which are really well developed and very sizeable? And then the trickle down effect to these up and coming economies is positive? You’re right, I think it also has a challenging aspect to it, which is how do investors react, how to business operators and owners react, we do remain hidden, I mean, to your earlier point about information, traveling faster, people getting a bit more educated in the space. And that transmission mechanism still being very quick as compared to what it was, when you and I were working in finance, I think the SME sector is still small enough that you can hide away from the noise. So if you are a warning in a place like Indonesia, how is your business going to be affected with regards to you being able to sell product to your local market, and the only space we’ve seen it so far, is actually in supply chain disruption. And that’s because FMCG companies can’t get their products around the markets that they need to. And of course, going to your local shop, being able to find that favorite butter that you used to buy from a particular market is not so easy anymore. So that’s where we’ve seen a huge impact already. But I would say that’s related to COVID and supply chain rather than geopolitical politics, and may now be extended as a result of geopolitics, particularly around, you know, food coming out of Ukraine, as well as product coming out of China.
Michael Waitze 33:53
Do you feel like we have a benefit living in Asia, in particular, in general, but also in Southeast Asia, in particular, in our ability to understand this supply chain at scale in a way that’s maybe better than somebody who lives in Chicago or Berlin, because we’re kind of at the source of it. So when people talk about it, we kind of interact with it every day, and you must be providing financing or doing credit scoring for people in that business. So you have a more intimate knowledge of it. When you go abroad and explain not just your business, but the supply chain business to people do you feel like it’s maybe the first time they’re thinking about it at scale? If you don’t, I mean,
Deep Singh 34:28
if you consider Singapore and even Hong Kong, I mean, these are very large trading hubs. Absolutely. They’ve built their market in training supply chain, and ultimately then related services, whether it’s insurance, financial services, or whatnot. So I think we get a much better vantage point, then the rest of the market and if I consider my time in Australia, which is effectively a self sufficient country, and exports, effectively more than it imports. You don’t necessarily have to consider supply chains externally too much. It’s all internal logistics that can have to navigate. Whereas for us in Singapore, when the prime minister talks about now being able to access shrimps from Israel, because you can’t get them from the other markets, we were getting him, you know that logistics and food, you know, scarcity, a real issues that need to be addressed. Because you have to consider how you get things in and out of the country.
Michael Waitze 35:20
What does growth look like for you that kind of link, and then I’ll let you go.
Deep Singh 35:24
Yeah, growth is really about focusing on more partnerships, because that allows us to scale and just to use an example, if you’ve got an E commerce platform that’s got 3000 suppliers and 5000 buyers, suddenly, you’ve got 1000 clients or potential SMEs, you can support. So we really think about driving platform volume. And we’re lucky enough that the VCs have been incredibly supportive by opening up their portfolios and saying, actually, that company needs help that company needs help, can you please go and speak to this company because your product is going to help them grow? So in a very cheeky way, Michael, growth is about just continuing to do what we’re doing, which is really helping platforms grow and scale, create stickiness with their clients, increase audit checkup, and then really move to growing companies, which is rather than just focusing on say, Asia or Southeast Asia, how can we expand into Asia more broadly, then how can we start thinking about cross border trade, like when we start thinking about new markets into Europe, and potentially North America, China and India over time, but we take incremental steps. And the philosophy I have with my team is let’s take an inch every day. And over time, we’ll look back and we would have walked a mile.
Michael Waitze 36:37
I love it. Okay, I’m gonna thank you for doing this Deep Singh, the Founder and Group CEO at CrediLinq.ai. Thank you so much for doing this today.
Deep Singh 36:46
Thanks for having me, Michael. Good day.
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