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Underserved small to medium companies and tech-savvy individuals are keen to access financial services via their mobile phones. Photo: Reuters

China’s Pintec launches Singapore robo-adviser to tap growth in Southeast Asia


Beijing-based financial technology company Pintec has launched a venture in Singapore, its first office outside China, tapping the growing demand for automated investment advice in Southeast Asian countries.

The new venture, Pivot, counts pan-Asian life insurer FWD Group, controlled by Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li Tzar Kai, and other unnamed angel investors as backers.

Founded in 2012, the fintech firm will offer small to medium institutions from Southeast Asia automated investment advisory tools and services, co-founder and CEO Victor Lye said in an interview in Beijing.

“We are talking to insurers, banks and stock brokers,” said Lye, adding that he is confident the firm will find its first partner soon.

Pintec has built a range of products which use artificial intelligence and data-driven technologies such as robo-advisory, digital lending, online mutual funds, and online insurance broking.

Xuanji, a robo-adviser platform launched by Pintec last year, makes suggestions on asset allocation in a full portfolio of mutual funds based on investment target and risk tolerance levels derived from a set of questions answered by the investors. It is powered by big data, quantitative modelling and machine learning.

Initially, Pivot will focus on offering business solutions rather than targeting consumers, said Zheng Yudong, chief executive officer of Pintec’s Polaris, the digital wealth-management and robo-advisory unit.

Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines are more likely to achieve higher growth because their populations are not as tied to traditional banking, according to Zheng.

Zheng compared these markets to China, in which demand is being driven by underserved

small to medium companies and tech-savvy, often unbanked, individuals who are keen to access financial services via their mobile phones.

Algorithm-based portfolio management advice is a relatively low cost solution for increasing market share for institutions aiming to target customers who are not banked, said Zheng.

Pintec isn’t the first Chinese fintech firm to set up shop in Singapore in recent months. In July the country’s financial regulator, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, gave the green light to Lufax, the first Chinese fintech firm to operate in the country, following the launch of a consultation paper in June aiming to facilitate growth in automated investment advice.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Pintec takes automated advisory to city state