Funding Societies, Southeast Asia’s largest digital financing platform, and Singapore Management University (SMU) have come together to develop and publish a case study explaining the role of FinTech and Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending for small businesses. This is the first such case covering a P2P lender that SMU has developed, and involved in-depth research into the industry and the workings of the homegrown FinTech.
The case is authored by faculty members of SMU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business (LKCSB), which has been enhancing its course offerings and teaching material in Digital Business, as part of its aim to better equip students for the digital transformations that are occurring in the business world. It comes at a timely juncture as the P2P industry is expanding steadily, making competition fiercer than ever before. In recent years, several platforms similar to Funding Societies have entered the market while others are now being acquired by larger companies.
Authored by Associate Professors of Marketing Hannah Chang and Michelle Lee, and produced by the University’s Centre for Management Practice, the published case titled “Using Fintech to Support Small Businesses in Singapore” examines how FinTech companies can stand out in the trade with an innovative service, and how they can, through careful market segmentation and targeting, gain a competitive edge in acquiring and retaining customers. It focuses on Funding Societies’ innovative use of technology to reduce customer pain points, and also analyses the FinTech’s outreach efforts employed to educate the Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) segment on how its products can close financing gaps unserved by traditional financial institutions.
An excerpt from the case hints at the added value that FinTech platforms like Funding Societies bring to this overlooked segment through the use of technology:
Debt crowdfunding, also referred to as peer-to-peer (P2P) lending, represents an alternative source of loans for businesses to borrow money. P2P companies are different from banks in that they operate through online platforms, utilise data analytics and algorithms for credit risk assessment, and have much shorter turnaround times for loan approvals than the banks. Moreover, while banks lend money to companies using customer deposits, P2P companies play the part of a matchmaker by enabling individual investors to put money directly towards funding a particular loan.
In just five years, Funding Societies has disbursed over S$1.5 billion in funding across more than 2.6 million business loans across Southeast Asia. Back in the day as one of the industry’s pioneers and offering only one product out of Singapore, Funding Societies has today flourished into the only homegrown P2P lender with multiple SME financing products and licensed in three countries – Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The company has also been shortlisted for the Singapore digital wholesale banking license in a consortium with AMTD, Xiaomi, and SP Group.
“While relatively young in Singapore, P2P lending has become a major form of alternative financing for SMEs and alternative investment for the public, because of its accessibility and convenience. As it continuously evolves, we believe it will become mainstream finance, attracting and nurturing more local talents, and further contributing to the local FinTech space as a whole,” said Kelvin Teo, Co-founder and Group CEO of Funding Societies.
Associate Professor Michelle Lee, who is also Associate Dean (Undergraduate Matters) at SMU LKCSB, said, “P2P lending is a burgeoning area within FinTech and every business student ought to have some understanding of the industry. This case provides them with that understanding and prompts them to think deeply about how a company in that space can compete effectively. It sharpens their thinking about a firm’s value proposition vis-à-vis direct and indirect competition, as well as how a competitive advantage can be sustained.”
“Since its inception, SMU has held to the principle of preparing students well for industry and this has meant ensuring the currency of its curriculum and teaching material. This case is one example of how that is brought about,” she added.