Wherever they are, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may sometimes find the banking world hard to navigate and often confine their use of corporate banking services to account opening.The co-founders of fintech Hong Kong start-up FinMonster offers a “Trivago of banking” – which, like the hotel-finding app, lets its clients locate the appropriate banking services they need for the best price.“Our ultimate goal is to make corporate banking operate efficiently, not only in Hong Kong but in the world,” FinMonster Co-founder, CEO and Executive Director Jess Cheng said. “We want corporates to obtain their banking support at a reasonable price and banks to acquire business with lower costs. This means resources are allocated more effectively.”
The business model of FinMonster could be described as “request for quotation”, Mr Cheng said. In the same way as a prospective traveller enters requirements when searching on Trivago, so corporate clients will input their banking needs when searching on FinMonster.FinMonster intended to branch into loan-origination services after its client base expanded, as loan origination is an expensive process for banks, Mr Cheng said. Currently staff in smaller banks need to spend a great deal of time finding borrowers and vetting their requests, meaning existing loan origination functions only benefit large corporates. Although FinMonster is a freeware right now, the company could charge banks a subscription fee, offering loan origination on a software-as-a-service (SAAS) basis. Since applications would be machine-processed, FinMonster could benefit from economies of scale – handling 10 applications would cost no more than handling one.As an early-stage start-up, FinMonster benefits from Hong Kong’s vibrant start-up scene in many ways. The company received funding from the CyberPort Creative Micro Fund (CCMF) in June and is part of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Polypreneur scheme and the University of Hong Kong’s iDendron Incubation Programme.Data constitutes the “secret sauce” for FinMonster, Mr Cheng said, with figures on loan-granting and tenor, loan acceptance, as well as client and bank behaviour all helping the start-up improve its algorithms and make better matches between clients and banks.Mr Cheng said that with just a handful of leading banks holding a lion’s share of the market at present, FinMonster would contribute to Hong Kong society by expanding the role of smaller banks and fintech companies. And while eight virtual banks have been granted licences, just two currently serve corporates, he said − and FinMonster was already in discussions with these in relation to connecting them with potential customers.