As The Fintech Times in September celebrates the Women in Fintech we take a moment to hear more from some of the leading female leaders in Asia. One of them is Caecilia Chu from Hong Kong, who is an expert in fintech and specifically in cross-border mobile payment in Southeast Asia.
Caecilia Chu is the CEO and Co-Founder of YouTrip, a regional financial technology company based in Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand, dedicated to creating a next-generation digital banking experience for users in Southeast Asia. Guided by her vision to help people manage their money in a simpler yet smarter way, YouTrip first launched its multi-currency mobile wallet in Singapore in August 2018 in partnership with Mastercard and EZ-Link, the largest contactless payment system for Singapore’s public transport network. Less than a year later, YouTrip brought its “Truly No Fees” multi-currency mobile wallet to Thailand, in collaboration with Kasikorn Bank, Thailand’s largest consumer bank with over 11.6 million online banking customers in November 2019.
Under her leadership, YouTrip has grown to become one of the fastest-growing fintech companies in South-East Asia. The success was also further demonstrated when it raised a record US$26 million pre-series A funding in May 2019, the largest for a fintech start-up in Southeast Asia.
Describe your career journey:
Prior to founding YouTrip, I was a banker for a big part of my career, having worked at Citibank, McKinsey and Lufax. I was travelling frequently for work and sometimes, these last-minute work trips left me with no time to visit a money changer beforehand. I often had to rely on my credit card for overseas payment. And it’s only when my credit card bills came in, that I noticed how much foreign transaction fees I’m actually paying. It was this traveller’s pain that I experienced first-hand for many years that led me to found YouTrip to eliminate such fees. Plus, when I was studying cross border payment products in Lufax, I saw that there was absolutely no entry barrier and it was free for all users to use. I wanted to give YouTrip users a similar experience when using our product for overseas payment, a truly no fees proposition!
As a recognised thought leader and a female, what difficulties have you faced in your career?
Even though the tech industry is still largely dominated by men, I’ve been fortunate enough to never experience difficulties because of my gender. I’m a firm believer that gender doesn’t determine how successful a person can be. But having said that, I think it’s important that women professionals recognise the challenges that would come our way. It’s really about making the conscious trade off and sacrifices, or compromises in certain parts of our lives to achieve the wildest dreams that one has. Having that mindset, I think that’s very important.
What are the future trends and predictions you see happening in the region?
I expect to see more non-financial sector players venturing the payment space to launch adjacent products from their core offerings to cater an experience unique to their brand and the changing needs of their customers. The many untapped opportunities in the region will definitely entice many new players into the payment space, however, I believe YouTrip will remain to be the only pure-play in the multi-currency payment space in Southeast Asia.
Another key development in the payment sector will be on payment security, especially on the usage of modern technologies like Machine Learning and AI, to combat fraud in a more efficient manner as online payment grows amid Covid-19. There is an increasing need for better fraud monitoring capabilities, as more consumers adopt mobile payment for e-commerce shopping driven by the pandemic. It’ll be exciting to see how such technologies can create meaningful impact to tackle financial crime faster than before.
For YouTrip, it’s a core focus of ours to enhance our machine learning capabilities to lead the fight against new methods of defrauding and safeguard our platform.
What advice and recommendations do you want to give future female entrepreneurs and thought leaders who are based in Asia?
The first step is having the mindset and understanding the awareness that sometimes being a female entrepreneur or female professional is hard, and we really can’t have it all. It’s important to find a supportive environment – choose the right people, choose the right team, choose the right culture that is inclusive and collaborative, which will help you grow. I hope that there will be more women joining the Fintech industry and YouTrip will be most supportive of them.