We might be sounding like a broken record, but COVID-19 has really messed with the retail industry. Retailers are now forced to think of innovative ways to keep up with the demand for more instant and affordable shopping experiences.

That’s why when we came across this startup OctiFi, we were wondering if they could actually help give a boost to the retail sector.

This Singapore-based fintech startup is a offering a buy-now, pay-later solution that aims to help retailers create and gain traction. Octifi, a mobile app for consumers, offers flexible payment models, both online and in-store payment options, interest-fee and even cashback for early payment.

We like to shine the spotlight on Southeast Asia’s entrepreneurs. We speak to Relogo Yvonne Yeo about her journey.

We wanted to find out more about their co-founder and CEO Ed Chin to see what motivated him to create his startup and what his plans are for the future.

If you can’t find Ed at his desk working, he’s either playing sports and doing recreational coding. He only requires four to five hours of sleep to be fully functional (which is hard for us even with a full eight hours) and is happily married with two children.

Find out what Ed had to share with us below.

The OctiFi web platform

Sell us your company/service in 300 words?

OctiFi is the missing tool that SMEs need to close more deals and upsell their customers. We are making “buy-now, pay-later” service the centrepiece of how merchants conduct business. We give SMEs a digital financing platform to tap into new gen consumers who desire the convenience of interest-free credit without escalating credit card burden.

3 out of 4 people in Southeast Asia don’t have credit cards and small businesses are struggling to tap into these demands due to lack of affordable credit, particularly at the point-of-sale. OctiFi lessens the financial consideration from consumer’s buying decisions by creating an easy-to-use app that enables merchants to offer 0% interest instalment credit anywhere. Merchants now can download this app and offer affordable payment plans to anyone with a bank account. This is such a game changer for their business; merchants are willing to pay and subsidise the financing cost, and this is how we are able to keep our loans interest free for the consumers.

Our strategy of not being dependent on a bank and making a credit decision in seconds with very few customer input parameters has helped expand the potential pool of customers exponentially. It has even led to a 20% lift in merchant sales conversions and 34% increase in ticket size.

What is stopping you from having the largest company in the world?

Having the largest company was never a goal of mine. I enjoy building things that people want and making a real contribution to humanity and to my community. I have never set out to be the biggest or largest in anything that I do, but rather I wanted to be the best at what I do and have given it the maximum effort with OctiFi. I believe, in life, if you do what you do with a purpose, and focus on the journey rather than the end result, the rest will follow.

If you could change one thing about the tech industry in Southeast Asia, what would it be?

After working in the US for almost 2 decades, where inclusivity and diversities in the workplace are often top of mind, I feel that the Southeast Asia tech scene has some catching up to do. I would love to see a more inclusive tech scene, particularly at the C-suite level. Currently, I often see management teams that are very homogeneous in terms of culture, race and gender. I always believe having diversity of opinions is key to making high quality decisions. Breaking the cultural barrier so one can adapt quickly and offer hyperlocal experience to your users is often overlooked as a must-have success criteria. Having worked for a black female founder in my previous tech startup, I saw firsthand how much value an under-appreciated female founder can bring. So, I personally want to see more female entrepreneurs in the region.

Name one person in the region, who is making a difference in Technology?

Quek Siu Rui, founder of Carousell. To me, he’s the Mark Zuckerberg of Southeast Asia. I admired how he was able to seize an opening in the classified space and morphed it into this giant B2C and C2C mobile-first marketplace, but he didn’t stop there. He understood the threat of competition and approached it with great vision and humility. He invested heavily into AI and now became one of the technological leaders in computer vision and machine learning. He was obsessively focused with the needs of his customers, and he never strayed from what made Carousell great in the first place – simplicity. His products are always simple and intuitive to use without bells and whistles, and all the magic happens behind the scene. To me that’s a great sign of a true leader – great vision and impeccable execution. The end result is that he has created a product that people in the region can’t live without.

OctiFi on mobile

What would you want people to remember you for, 100 years from now?

I don’t expect anyone other than my family to remember who I was 100 years from now. What I do want people to remember is that I have taken great personal and financial risk to create an enduring company that will hopefully serve as the blueprint for financial inclusion. Too many people talk about financial inclusion, but not enough people actually act on it. Lending with high interest rates is a vicious cycle that has no good outcome. Established financial institutions are too focused on the bottom lines to create a real solution that serves the needs of someone who doesn’t meet their “standards”. In my view, socio-economic parity is key to societal harmony, and easy access to truly affordable credit is the key to that.