Thursday, 22 February 2024

WeLab marks a decade of leading fintech innovation in Hong Kong

5 min read

WeLab, a leading pan-Asian fintech platform, is marking its 10th anniversary milestone this year. WeLab has spearheaded fintech development in Hong Kong and Asia, with its commitment to developing innovative technologies and promoting financial inclusion since the industry’s nascent stages.

As the fintech industry continues to surge forward, WeLab eagerly embraces the promising changes ahead and the impact that it is poised to bring. Early in 2013, WeLab saw what was possible from digitalising financial services and established WeLend, Hong Kong's first pure online lending platform. This was followed by adding new business lines, diversifying into digital banking, B2B business, whilst also expanding geographically into Mainland China, Indonesia, and recently Malaysia.

WeLab currently has over 60 million users and over 700 enterprise customers, disbursing in excess of HKD 100 billion ($12.7 billion) of loans to date, with a positive growth trajectory that is exceeding a pre-pandemic run-rate. As fintech is widely adopted in daily life and the regional fintech ecosystem develops more comprehensively, WeLab has also announced its next-decade goal: to serve 500 million users in Asia Pacific.

Commitment to delivering industry-first innovation

WeLab has reshaped financial services through technology, successfully creating multiple industry "firsts", tapping into the immense potential of Asia's financial services market, which is worth nearly HKD 24 trillion ($3 trillion). These include:

· Operating WeLend, Hong Kong’s largest pure online lending platform.

· Operating WeLab Bank, one of Asia's first licensed digital banks, which has also been recognised as Hong Kong’s most innovative company.

· Being Asia’s first purely digital bank to launch digital wealth advisory services, which has generated investment return of up to 14% since its launch.

· Appointed as the first and only financial service provider in Asia for Apple’s subscription programme.

· Being the top lender in Tesla’s electric vehicle loan market in Hong Kong, exceeding 80% market share.

· Being the first company in Hong Kong to acquire a bank in Indonesia, Bank Jasa Jakarta (BJJ), and on track to launch the newly transformed digital banking business.

Simon Loong, founder and group CEO of WeLab, said: "In the fast-paced journey of the past decade, the Asian financial market has undergone a phenomenal digital transformation. As a pioneer in Hong Kong’s fintech sector, we were excited to be part of this revolution. Since its inception, we have been committed to reimagining the financial service experience with technology. Thanks to the dedication of our team and the support of the HKSAR government for nurturing local fintech ecosystem, WeLab has achieved exceptional accomplishments, but our ambitions extend far beyond. As fintech evolves, and traditional financial services fall short of meeting the needs of the Asian market, we anticipate a shift from B2B (business to business) to B2B2X (business to business to any user), seamlessly integrating financial services into various products and services for a holistic experience. WeLab is poised to capitalise on every opportunity that emerges in the upcoming surge of rapid growth in Asia."

Simon further outlined that WeLab's next milestone is “to deliver tech-driven financial services to 500 million users in Asia Pacific by 2032”. In addition to strengthening its core businesses, it will continue to effectively explore new opportunities to drive sustainable growth.

Propelling WeLab's next phase of growth with three key strategies:

· Strengthening presence in Southeast Asian market with a versatile business model: As the world’s economic focus shifts eastwards, Southeast Asia has become Hong Kong's second-largest trading partner with tremendous opportunities. With foresight for this potential, WeLab was an early mover, entering the Indonesian market back in 2018, laying a foundation for future regional development. WeLab is focused on expanding into more markets by adopting diverse business models such as B2C, B2B, and B2B2X.

For example, incorporating fintech into users' daily lives through embedded financial services. As the first step, BJJ’s digital banking service in Indonesia is on track to be launched imminently. WeLab has also signed a MoU with HSBC to explore delivering world-class customer journeys and innovative product offerings in Southeast Asia, with preparations underway for Malaysia being launched as the first market.

· Fostering innovation through reinvestment, and simultaneously diversifying revenue streams: With a solid foundation in the loans business, WeLab will further explore business opportunities, which generate fee income, such as the B2B segment or wealth management products, for example, the digital wealth advisory solutions co-developed with Allianz Global Investors (AllianzGI), to diversify revenue streams. By reinvesting resources in technological innovation, WeLab will be able to create a sustainable cycle of innovation that will keep it at the forefront of the industry.

· Expanding the ecosystem through cross-industry collaborations: Over the past decade, WeLab has established strategic partnerships with global leading brands such as CK Hutchison, Apple, Tesla, and AllianzGI, amongst others. Looking ahead, WeLab remains dedicated to forging strategic collaborations with additional partners, cultivating powerful synergies to magnify the fintech ecosystem, ultimately enhancing the financial well-being of a wider range of users.

Looking ahead, WeLab will further expand its fintech offerings across Asia. WeLab is confident about the potential in the region and believes that through cross-market and cross-industry collaborations, synergies can be created to enhance both reach and scale. This will allow WeLab to deliver its cutting-edge, Hong Kong-developed fintech solutions to users in the region, reinforcing Hong Kong's positions as a leading international financial centre.

Re-disseminated by The Asian Banker

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