The use of QR codes to make payments has become a commonplace in Singapore. QR payments are accepted at most establishments, from restaurants to shopping malls to malls and independent shops.
To encourage non-cash payments between companies, the government has focused on QR-based payments as a viable alternative to cash.
In 2018, the Singapore Monetary Authority (MAS), in collaboration with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), launched a unified QR code called the Singapore Quick Response Code (SGQR). It combines several paid QR codes, eliminating the need for merchants to invest in a separate QR code from each provider.
SGQR is now widely accepted nationwide in more than 160,000 merchant points.
However, before the launch of the SGQR, the e-wallet industry was still in its infancy and the use of QR codes to make payments was scarce. That didn’t stop Jove Neoh, co-founder and CEO of Fave, from launching the fintech firm in 2016.
Although the company now has multiple functions, from an e-wallet to a purchase now, pay for the solution later, it started with e-vouchers.
From Groupon to Fave
Joel has his roots in Groupon Malaysia, where he held the position of CEO in 2010. He later went on to lead Groupon’s Asia-Pacific operations. For strangers, Groupon is a website and mobile app that offers coupons, cash back purchases and group offers to consumers.
In 2016, Groupon Malaysia was acquired by Fitness Startup KFit, which had launched a separate bidding app: Fave. In an interview with Tech In Asia, Joel said Groupon’s acquisitions would be absorbed by Fave.
Then Fave Group acquired Groupon Singapore in 2017 and the fintech startup is now here.
“Fave was built on a future we envisioned: at the time, we thought the future would be cashless, so we launched QR payments,” Joel said.
Joel told Vulcan Post that while running Groupon, he learned a lot about electronic waltzes, so Fave started with digital waltzes. However, at that time, digital wallets were not yet popular and there were virtually no electronic wallets in the region.
“Even asking retailers to put in a QR code was very strange and the first few months were a big educational process. Traders might be wondering how they could get their money back and there were a lot of questions about security, ”said Joel.
Also, the uptake was not as good as expected, as traders were hesitant to provide discounts and vouchers all the time.
In 2017 and 2018, Singapore began to experience higher rates of QR payment adoption as large banks like DBS began to launch digital wallets. It was also when Fave launched its commercial rebate.
“We tried different models, but we didn’t expect the merchant’s money back function to grow so fast. It’s now more than 20,000 restaurants and retailers in Singapore,” Joel shared.
In addition to consumers being fans of the refund, Fave’s merchant refund feature also solved a big problem for merchants, acting as a loyalty program.
Since consumers can only claim their cash return with the same brand they received it from, Fave merchants were starting to see more customers return. When people started running out of cash, many no longer wanted to carry loyalty cards.
By having money back options that can only be used to selected merchants, Fave essentially provided merchants with a substitute for their loyalty programs.
Five years later, Fave is already present in four countries: Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and India. It has more than 6.1 million users in the app and more than 40,000 merchants.
Venturing into shopping now, pay later
This June, Fave announced the launch of its “Buy Now, Pay Later” (BNPL) service in Singapore and Malaysia.
Called FavePay later, the service offers flexible interest-free payments to the Fave app.
Eligible Fave users will be able to split purchases into three equal, interest-free installments. Refunds will be made automatically each month, with no charge for one-time payments.
In addition, customers can get up to 10% cash back with each purchase.
FavePay Later is available at all Fave merchants in Singapore, including brands such as Pandora, Marks & Spencer, Best Denki, Puma, CNG and more.
Fave said it will expand its BNPL offering to some of Southeast Asia’s largest online trading companies during mid-2021.
According to Joel, FavePay Later is one of the firm’s fastest growing products. Before launching the service, Fave’s team spent some time observing the BNPL space and realized that consumers are looking for new ways to pay.
In fact, approximately two out of five residents in Singapore (or 1.1 million Singaporeans) have used some form of BNPL solution in October last year, a consumer survey by Finder showed.
Sometimes people believe that there are hidden charges and additional charges with credit and debit cards. What has driven BNPL’s growth is its transparency and the fact that there are no additional charges, such as delays.
When we saw the model, we thought it was interesting; it is also important that we find new ways for our merchants to connect with customers as well. When you think of credit today, it is a relationship between you and the bank. With BNPL, you can get credit from the merchant.
Joel Neoh, co-founder and CEO of Fave
With BNPL, there is no flourishing for consumers and traders are on board as they want it to be more convenient for their customers.
However, there have been many criticisms directed at BNPL solutions, and some claim that this is one “Debt trap” for consumers.
“This is a cause for concern, especially among those millennials who lack the financial discipline to curb excessive and unnecessary spending,” said Vasu Menon, executive director of investment strategy, OCBC Bank.
Despite this, Joel told Vulcan Post that Singapore customers have so far been credible and even with credit cards, delinquency rates are low.
In addition, in Fave website, indicates that customer requirements for FavePay Later are assessed according to a variety of criteria, including the validity of the credit or debit card linked to the user’s Fave account and the user’s transaction history on the platform. e-commerce. Customers will incur a late charge of 1.5% of the final price if they do not meet a fee before the due date.
Expansion beyond SEA
In May, Fave announced its acquisition by Pine Labs, an Indian merchant trading platform, for RMS 185 million (US $ 59.08 million).
With the acquisition, Pine Labs expects Indian consumers to be able to use the Fave app to save on 500,000 network points of fintech unicorn-powered merchants in 3,700 cities in India.
Pine Labs is a cloud-based platform that provides a wide range of payment acceptances with commercial commerce solutions, such as inventory management and customer relationship management.
They serve merchants of all sizes and their stored value platform includes the issuance, processing and distribution of digital gift cards for corporate customers. Its main investors are Mastercard, PayPal and Temasek.
Pine Labs is one of the largest payment companies in India, especially offline. India is a huge market with 1.3 billion population and it is rare to have a chance to expand into such a large market. QR payments are an important thing in India and Pine Labs wants us to continue operating in Southeast Asia while launching India, which gave us a strong deal.
Joel Neoh, co-founder and CEO of Fave
As of now, there will be no changes to Fave’s leadership structure with the acquisition, but the founders will expand their roles to lead the overall consumer platform across Asia and hire more than 100 new employees in the South. East Asia and India.
In the coming months, Fave will focus on expanding to India, as well as plans to expand to more Southeast Asian countries. For the past few years since its founding, Fave has helped consumers save more than $ 400 million, prompting the team to consider helping customers with broader financial services.
However, these plans are not yet concrete or paved.
“I didn’t expect Fave to grow so fast, to date, more than seven million people have downloaded Fave and we process more than 20 million transactions a year. That means there are several transactions every second,” Joel said. .
“The credit goes to the Fave team: more than half of our leadership group has been with us from day one and we want to continue to accelerate the transition from the offline world to the digital economy.”
Featured Image Credit: Fave / Honeycombers