Xfers: The journey to becoming the first start-up holder of a Widely Accepted Stored Value Facility
A pair of brothers, Tianwei Liu and Tianyao Liu and their friends Victor Liew and Samson Leo — three computer engineers and one legal professional amongst themselves — have just set a new benchmark for fintech start-ups.
Their fintech start-up Xfers has just been approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) as the fifth, behind EZ-Link Card, NETS CashCard, NETS Flashpay and CapitaVoucher; the only fintech start-up holder of a Widely Accepted Stored Value Facility (WA SVF). The Xfers Wallet can now hold more than S$30 million of stored value, backed by an approved bank.
Although the four co-founders started Xfers only four years ago in Singapore, the seeds of their fintech start-up were planted years ago, when two of them embarked on the NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) Programme in Silicon Valley and Stockholm.
“Silicon Valley and Stanford (Partner University for NOC Silicon Valley) were magical. Birthplaces of some of the biggest technology companies of our era, “start-up” was in the air. Everywhere, be it on the college campus or at a cafe downtown, people were either talking about start-ups or working on one with a couple of friends. You can’t help but feel that everything is possible if you put your mind to it,” recalled CEO Tianwei Liu (NUS ‘2011).
“In many ways, the one year I spent in the Valley changed my life. The people I met coupled with the start-up culture that I was exposed to motivated me into planning for my own technology start-up and also laid the foundation which enabled me to do so when the opportunity presented itself almost 5 years later in 2015,” he added.
Tianyao Liu (NUS ‘2008), Xfers’ Head of Business Development, also credited his year-long internship on board the NOC Stockholm Programme for opening his eyes “to the world of entrepreneurship. It marked the beginning of my (his) entrepreneurial journey, foraying into building HR SaaS, e-commerce, mobile payment and leading up to co-founding of Xfers”.
In the very competitive fintech industry, Xfers stands out for being able to provide powerful API and SDK tools to fellow fintech and digital platform businesses to help them accept payments from their customers, as well as onboard, verify, and pay their customers and vendors, all via a single solution.
“Instead of spending months working in-house on customer onboarding and verification processes, integrating multiple payment options, obtaining licenses and dealing with multiple banking partners, fintech and digital platform businesses can now just integrate Xfers’ API/SDK solution to get their payment infrastructure up and running on their platforms in a matter of days”, explained CTO Victor Liew (NUS ‘2012). He added that Xfers’ technological edge lies in their “ability to iterate new ideas quickly and cheaply while ensuring compliance with regulations”.
Emphasizing the role that legal and compliance play in their business, Victor pointed out that “they take a front seat when it comes to designing new product features. By getting the technical team to work hand in hand with the legal and compliance teams from day one, we are able to challenge many previously established norms and assumptions to arrive at innovative technological solutions that meet existing regulatory challenges. We have created a conducive environment for our engineers to experiment with new ideas, learn from failures, and be groomed to be a world class software engineers”.
Chief Legal Officer Samson Leo (NUS ‘2011), who led a cross-departmental working group comprising legal, compliance, business and finance team members towards the successful approval by MAS of the WA SVF, explained that “regtech and compliance tech help fintech and digital businesses comply better with regulatory requirements (e.g. anti-money laundering regulations) and at a greater effectiveness and efficiency”.
“With our regtech integration, certain regulated businesses can dispense with manual processes for due diligence and customer verification. Customers can easily sign up for Xfers accounts using their Singpass and start transacting in minutes, without the need to fill forms or submit their NRIC, as we have integrated the government’s MyInfo solution onto our platform. This translates to increased sales and less customer drop-off for these businesses”, Samson added.
“Xfers believes that the high up-front regulatory and compliance preparation required is a challenge that all fintech start-ups face before they can become operational. Unlike banks which have dedicated compliance teams, these start-ups typically make do with skeletal compliance support. Xfers aims to accelerate the growth of these businesses in Southeast Asia — Xfers currently operate in Indonesia as well — by lowering the barriers to entry for them. Through Xfers, they can commence operations speedily while ensuring they remain regulation-compliant.”
“Know Your Customer (KYC)” is one of the essential regtech tools. In the same vein, the one tip that these four fintechpreneurs have for budding start-ups is to “Know Yourself” — to embark on a journey of self-discovery and enrichment, through going on internships and mentoring programmes, participating in and engaging with industries and start-up communities; to attend start-up events and industry conferences. After all, it was through such mentorship programmes that they knew themselves.
Visit www.xfers.com to find out more about the Xfers payment service