Recently Fintech startup ABC Technology setup their international headquarters in Singapore. This marked the first step in the multi-market expansion plans and seemingly reaffirms Singapore’s standing as one of the world’s leading fintech hubs. They have offices in China and Hong Kong as well.
Founded in 2016, ABC Technology developed an AI platform targeted at the financial industry that automates the entire data processing cycle from collection, extraction, search, analysis, visualising to reporting from both unstructured and structured data sources. It uses natural language processing technology and helps banks, finance institutions and large enterprises to make better and faster decisions, draw better insights and maximise their investments.
We spoke to Mason Yang, who is the founder and CEO of ABC Technology. He has raised more than USD$60 million to scale ABC Technology, and has previously successfully exited his first startup Mobotap that was acquired by Sohu in China.
Mason shared his thoughts on the industry in the region and why ABC Technology is setting up their international HQ in Singapore.
Congratulations on the new HQ for the company. Why choose Singapore?
We picked Singapore as the base for our international operations because of its strategic location, leading position as a financial hub, language proficiency, and maturity of IP rights. Singapore practises sound corporate governance and is an easy place to do business.
Where do you see the fintech industry evolving in Southeast Asia? What future trends do you foresee?
We are just at the forefront of the fintech industry, which is set to grow even further. I see the following trends in the future:
- Banks and financial institutions will turn towards harvesting insights from non-traditional information sources such as unstructured data. These unstructured data sources, which include images, pdfs and free form text, were previously difficult to harvest, contain a lot of information and a wealth of insights. Through the use of our latest AI technologies, it is now possible to automate the understanding and harvesting of insights for competitive advantage.
- Banks and other mainstream financial services providers will become more “fintech-like”. They will become more innovative and open towards adopting non-traditional forms of technology and providers. AI may soon become mainstream in these large organisations. Technology will also be at the forefront instead of being hidden in the back office, and will become a differentiator for their customers.
What challenges do you foresee or already experience, when it comes to adoption of AI solutions in the region?
A key challenge is user expectation. Some users hold high hopes of what AI and machines can do, and fail to exercise enough patience and provide support for AI projects to mature and flourish.
With ABC Technology, our AI is well-trained from large amounts of documents so training is lesser, runway is shorter and accuracy is higher than humans. With global financial institutions already on board, the risk is also greatly reduced.
Do you see a lot of competition from banks and financial institutions looking to innovate?
Many banks and financial institutions proactively looking to use technology to innovate themselves. Not all innovations are ground-breaking nor have huge tangible ROI, but even adopting the smallest innovation can foster and promote a culture and spirit of innovation, which to me, is the sustainable source of competitive advantage.
How do your AI solutions help financial companies make better decisions?
Financial Institutions and MNCs already have a lot of information, but much of these exist as unstructured data – data that is not formatted for computers such as reports, images, pdfs, and websites. The copious amount of such data contains valuable information that can provide much insight – but only if they can be understood and analysed. It had been very difficult for machines to understand and process information inside unstructured data sources till now.
ABC Technology has developed a cutting-edge AI-infused Intelligent Document Processing platform for the financial services industry. This platform automates the gathering and understanding of unstructured data such as reports, financial statements, images, contracts; and structured data such as spreadsheets, forming a deep knowledge base of insights. Through this platform, users can easily produce reports, explore visually and interrogate deep into the knowledge base. This platform and knowledge base of insights help organisations make better decisions that lead to higher revenue, lower risks and improved compliance.
For banks, in the area of corporate financing, we automate the understanding and analysis of data from a customer’s document and allow more information sources to be evaluated, to help banks better price their loans and manage risk. We also help risk management teams automate gathering and understanding of insights faster, potentially helping banks to better manage risks. In addition, our platform also allows banks to perform deep search and understanding of their large repository of unstructured customer information to gain insights, so they can offer even better customer service.
For stock exchanges, we automate the understanding of key information from corporate filings to allow the exchange to provide information to their stakeholders faster and more efficiently. Our platform also helps stock exchanges analyse and search the wealth of unstructured data repository to gain insight and understand trends of their ecosystem.
For asset management, sovereign funds and investment firms, we automate the understanding of insights from expert sources as well as the automation of the financial and operating performance of underlying companies and assets.
For insurance firms, our platform automates the understanding of claims, so they can process claims and respond to their customers faster.
For non-financial institutions, we automate the comparison of invoices and delivery orders to minimise financial slippages and fraud. Our technologies also provide deep search into corporate knowledge bases for insights, so corporations can maximise the wealth of knowledge they possess.
What is next for the company?
ABC Technology envisions a financial world that is automated, well managed and intelligent. We are looking at enhancing the AI in our Intelligent Document Platform to achieve an even higher accuracy rate with lesser human training. We also plan to expand into other countries, including Australia, Europe and the United States, that are ready to use AI to gain a competitive edge.