Caecilia Chu,

Co-Founder & CEO,


2020 Trends: Payments

At YouTrip, we believe the future of fintech is regional, rather than global. So we are greatly focused on building our business only for the Southeast Asia region where we call home. As Southeast Asia is a highly fragmented market (each country has its own regulatory regimes), we believe any fintechs able to localise their service while building a regional presence will be uniquely successful over the next 5-10 years.

How can payments firms protect and build margin in an increasingly utility-driven payments business environment?

Being a fully digital platform living in a mobile world means our ability to iterate is so much faster than the bricks and mortar generation. What this means as that we can very quickly iterate on the features, we can add an additional financial services lines onto the mobile product itself and we can do this seamlessly. This is how we think of the economics of our product over time – we’ll actually rely on the mobile property to be able to cross-sell additional services to add convenience and accessibility for our users.

Where do you see the biggest opportunity for disruption?

We are incredibly focused on the cross-border payment space. We realised that when a person crosses the border of their country, they automatically become unbanked. Even in a place like Singapore and Thailand there are still many people who are underserved when they cross the border. That’s why we are focused on making cross-border payments extremely easy and inexpensive. That’s the space where we see the most opportunity for disruption. Another interesting consideration we had when setting up the business is that Southeast Asia as a whole is incredibly exciting. We have close to 200 million people unbanked in the region and an additional 100 million who are clearly underbanked – so we felt like we are well positioned to tackle this challenge.

How do you keep the concept of “Day 1” alive in your business and continually push for innovation?

Perhaps we got this one easy because we were only incorporated back in 2016, so I think by age we aren’t that old yet! We as a company have kept growing at a tremendous speed. When we first launched in Singapore in August of 2018, we were a team of 25 people predominantly working in one office space. Now 15 months in, we are a team of 120 people across three different country locations. With this kind of rapid speed of growth, no day has ever been the same. To me and everyone at YouTrip, every day is day 1!

What is the thing that most excites you about your industry – and frustrates you?

Southeast Asia is interesting. It is an exciting opportunity but it’s also tremendously fragmented as a region. Unlike Europe, we don’t have passport rights to other markets and unlike US or Europe, we don’t have a unified currency. That’s why we picked the cross-border and foreign currency piece to tackle in our product because we felt that the access problem is very deep in this market. Because of the fragmented nature of the region, breaking into any new country, it’s almost like starting a new company. The regulatory environment, the compliance standards, a lot of the local infrastructure we need to localise ourselves – even the languages tend to be different.

What has been the biggest challenge on your path to success – and how did you overcome it?

We can not yet class ourselves as successful. For all the money problems that we can tackle in the region, frankly we are probably not even 1% there. There’s a lot more to be done. But in terms of building this consumer-centric financial product platform, I’d say the number one challenge we need to resolve is gaining consumer trust. There is actually a high entry barrier between us. Imagine being a new name, brand new start-up – we need to convince people to put their hard-earned money into a digital product. It isn’t easy to do, but the way we tackle this issue as we expand from Singapore to Thailand across Southeast Asia is that we find very strong household brands and established companies to partner with. Immediately this gives us credibility from day 1.

Caecilia is the Co-Founder and CEO of YouTrip, a regional financial technology company dedicated to creating a next-generation digital banking experience in Asia.