By Raymond WyandAbout 10 years ago, the US personal financial management (PFM) App Mint was an instant hit. Mint came out of nowhere and made boring but crucial things like managing personal finance, budgeting and money tracking kind of fun. And most importantly, it was free.

Mint was a sensation among consumers, hitting 1.5 million users within two years before being acquired by data aggregator Intuit for US$170 million. The founding team left shortly after, and many went on to become famous in their own right. This included Dave Mcclure, founder of 500 Startups, and Noah Kagan (the original Digital Guerrilla marketer).

USA, The Mature Market

When Mint was acquired, Intuit was a $10 billion company. Today it is worth 4x that amount, with Mint estimated to be at least 25% of the valuation. But with the founding team gone, Mint has turned from the exciting consumer champion into exactly what it was trying to disrupt. With its heavy emphasis on budgeting Mint has become kind of boring…

Disruptor Becomes The Disrupted

When Clarity Money launched, founder Adam Dell claimed that he “…started Clarity Money because I was frustrated by how little you can do with Mint”. He was clearly not alone, within 5 months they scored 100,000 users and landed US$11 million of Series B funding.

It’s not the only startup taking the fight to Mint’s backyard – Personal Capital, Toshl Finance, and MoneyLion are also joining the battle to topple Mint.

With an overall financial service shift towards customer-centricity, this new breed of PFM Apps is getting popular among millennials, who are tired of being stuck with the poor user experience often associated with banking apps.

Europe, Far Ahead In Open Banking

In Europe, consumers are beginning to take a more active role in how their financial lives are run. The new European Directive on Payment Services (PSD2) has helped to usher in a segment of FinTech startups that have begun eating into the market share of traditional banks.

App-only service providers like Monzo, Revolut and Starling Bank have all had significant levels of success in reinventing the banking experience, offering spending trackers, budgeting, instant money transfer and minimal bank fees.

Asia, Young And Dynamic Market

In Asia, where local markets are diverse and in some cases limited by size, it is not only hard to find a dominant or leading PFM App – in many cases there are no PFM apps at all. Well-established financial systems like Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan are dominated by the traditional banks.

For these markets, FinTech has referred largely to B2B businesses that exclusively pitch products to banks – and very few of these ever reach the consumers. But this is all about to change… at least in Hong Kong.

“The upgrading of our banking system to a new and higher level of Smart Banking is not just something nice-to-have but a must,” says Hong Kong Monetary Authority Chief Executive Norman Chan – and this turned out not to be a soundbite.

The new Open API initiative shows that regulators have embraced action over conversation, and the influx of new technologies, high smartphone penetration rate and increasingly tech-savvy millennials look set to propel HK into a leading position in FinTech.

Hong Kong, A Fresh Ground Market

At gini, we strongly believe in putting control of personal finances back in users’ hands, giving them the ability to track their money and make prudent financial decisions.

For too long, finance in HK has been conducted in the shadows – dominated by a few players who benefit little from transparency. HK deserves a company that is built around the consumer, that addresses their needs, and is an advocate for transparency and financial literacy. We hope to make gini that company.We’re building our product from the ground up, based on the feedback from our amazing beta community that has grown to over 5,000 in less than a week. With the prevailing trends of Opening Banking and Open APIs in different regions, there will be tremendous opportunities for fintech startups who want to help consumers with advanced technology and reshape banking services and products to expand their footprints in Hong Kong, as well as Asia.

About The Author

Raymond Wyand is the CEO and Co-founder of gini, the first personal financial management app powered by bank-level security in Hong Kong. Prior to this, Ray was a Vice President at Citibank, part of the Global Credit Trading Business based in Hong Kong. His areas of expertise included Regulatory Capital Optimization, CLO Syndication, Securitization and Credit Derivatives.


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