Chat with Fintechs: Thomas Kang @ M-DAQ – A World without Currency Borders
Fintech in Singapore
In recent years, Fintech became the buzzword in Singapore. MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) supported and organised the first Singapore Fintech Festival in 2016 and has since promised another follow-up event in 2017 after overwhelming success for its inaugural event.
The Republic boosted its support for Fintechs and introduced a slew of incentives and initiatives to lure such startups to be based in Singapore. There are the Singapore Fintech Festival, Fintech Office (one stop government office), MAS regulatory sandbox and incentives on Tax and numerous funding schemes. You can find a good summary from KPMG here.
Fintech has actually been around since 2000, and perhaps even earlier, but was probably not known as Fintech per se, most likely as another name. M-DAQ is one of the earliest Fintech in Singapore. We had the chance to speak to Mr Thomas Kang, who is heading the Global Outreach at M-DAQ.
Chat with M-Daq: Thomas Kang, Global Outreach M-DAQ
TFA Geeks: Hi Thomas, thank you for taking time off your busy schedule and granting us a short interview. You are heading the Global Outreach at M-DAQ, a Fintech company based in Singapore with a relatively longer history as compared to other Fintech startups (M-DAQ started since 2010) and M-DAQ won some Fintech awards recently. Would you be able to share more about what M-DAQ does and how will it change and improve the lives of your users?
Thomas: M-DAQ has a very simple but clear goal. We strive to break down technological and psychological barriers to enable cross-border trading of physical and financial assets. We enable investors to price, trade, and settle exchange-trade products in their preferred currency of choice. Also, M-DAQ’s award-winning multicurrency pricing solution, Aladdin, offers an integrated point-of-sale FX convertibility to online marketplaces.
TFA Geeks: What will you say is the main differentiating factor between M-DAQ’s goal of creating a world without currency border and what your competitors are offering to the market? Why do you think your users will prefer you over them?
Thomas: M-DAQ’s patented disruptive FX technology platform enables the most cost efficient FX execution. Moreover, M-DAQ’s solution is not an off-the-shelf one-size-fits-all solution. It is customizable to suit our clients’ specific business needs – competitive advantage of an agile start-up vs. an established corporate. Last but not least, M-DAQers’ diversity and experience are our greatest strengths. Today, we have 52 employees representing 16 countries and our management team has an average of 15+ years of experience from the banking and financial industry.
TFA Geeks: Since you are in a Fintech company, in your opinion, are traditional businesses receptive towards Technology, whether in terms of partnering Fintech companies like yourself, or in terms of using Fintech solutions for their businesses?
Thomas: The answer is a resounding YES. Most CEOs and leaders today are championing digital transformation and they are definitely receptive towards development of Fintech. HOWEVER, I often find that their organizations are NOT prepared. Legacy structures and inflexible business processes are hindering their adoption. For example, performance incentives or accountability measures are not aligned with their digital strategies, making it impossible for them to collaborate effectively with Fintechs.
TFA Geeks: Looking at the trend, especially the recent investment boom in Fintech companies, some analysts are pretty skeptical and some have warned that this might be another dot-com bubble in the making. What are your thoughts on that?
Thomas: Just like in any industries or like in dot-com bubble era, I expect a fair share of failures and struggles as many Fintech companies would likely to miss their targets. But at the same time, I don’t recall hearing a word, “Fintech”, back in 2010, when M-DAQ was founded. In fact, the definition of Fintech has evolved and will continue to evolve with development of technology, i.e. IoT, Bots, Blockchain, AI, etc. I strongly believe that many innovative Fintech companies (like M-DAQ) would successfully pivot to obtain sustainable scale.
TFA Geeks: You graduated with a MBA and a Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering, what prompted you to have a career in a Fintech start-up?
Thomas: A book titled, Halftime, challenged me to think how I want to live the second half of my life. I decided to move from success to significance (thus my LinkedIn headline). I believe I had achieved success as a Managing Director and Asia Pacific Regional Head of a global bank. So, in search for SIGNIFICANCE, I joined M-DAQ to create a World without Currency Borders.
TFA Geeks: Do you have any advice for aspirants who wish to join a Fintech company or startup? What are the qualities, apart from the technical hard skills, that he/she should possess?
Thomas: Many believe that by just following your passion, it would lead one to a successful career. I totally disagree. However, following your passion would guarantee hard work, yet very satisfying experience. You need to start with what matters the most to you and why. Once you have identified them, put together a systematic plan to build skills to attain them. Consequently, each day henceforth take small steps to execute that plan. Perhaps you have noticed that I have not mention any careers or industries because passion is usually agnostic to specific fields.