Conversation with Salim Dhanani, CEO & Co-Founder at BigPay, neobank based in Southeast Asia, recently talked with Samee Zafar (Director, London). During their conversation, Salim described the value proposition of BigPay and the markets and customers that they serve.
1. What does BigPay do and in what markets?
BigPay has always championed financial well-being in Southeast Asia and to do so, we’ve built our business on a neobank model to provide unbundled banking services that cater to the full spectrum of financial needs, across different segments in the region. Think of us as the creators of substitutes for products that you typically can only get from traditional financial services institutions, but are highly accessible regardless of your background. What this means for users is access to fair, transparent, frictionless financial services on a seamless app interface.
Of course, BigPay is also about empowering and educating users to build healthy financial habits from an early age so that they can progress further in their financial journey. Whether it’s the way they transact, save, transfer money, or take up a personal loan to start their own business, we’re here to help them along this journey to build and grow wealth in the long run.
We are currently live in Singapore and Malaysia, with Thailand and Indonesia following shortly, providing e-money accounts with Visa debit cards for users to enjoy the spending experience domestically and internationally, personal loans, savings, money transfers, spending analytics, and many more to come.
2. Who are your key customers?
When it comes to deciding your favourite, go-to card for daily spending – everybody has different criteria and expectations. Some value cashback and discounts when they spend, and some users want a highly accepted card worldwide – the list is endless.
What makes BigPay so special is that no matter which stage of your financial journey you’re at, we’ve combined the best spending experiences into one singular card and app. Those following our journey from the beginning would know that we initially started as a travel card that provides the best foreign currency exchange rates, bundled with flight, accommodation and travel experience deals. As travel rebounds, it’s great seeing people pick up their BigPay card for their travel spending again, but after close to 2 years of the pandemic, we have proven that we’re so much more than just a travel card.
We’ve not overlooked our everyday people, the freelancers, SME owners, students, and those who are often rejected by traditional financial institutions due to lack of credit history, and stable income due to the nature of their jobs. These segments of users would nonetheless have great aspirations to achieve their financial goals and these are the users BigPay was founded to serve.
True to our mission of driving financial well-being, we’ve launched various products and initiatives suited to their needs – BigPay Personal Loans with approvals in under minutes, Stashes to cultivate a habit of saving as they spend, and participating in various governmental initiatives like eBelia in Malaysia. While it’s encouraging to see the impact of our work translating to higher levels of financial literacy, our mission to educate and champion overall well-being, especially among the unserved and underserved segment will always be an ongoing one.
3. What do you do in your spare time? Hobbies?
I am an outdoor person and enjoy a good challenge doing mountaineering. Out of the Volcanic Seven Summits, which are the highest volcanoes on each of the seven continents, I’ve conquered 3 so far, with another 4 more to go. It’s such a humbling experience unlike any other as it pushes you to your physical and mental limits – especially when you’re climbing above 6,000m.
Day to day, I enjoy the occasional rock climbing, debating macroeconomics and geopolitics, and this may come as a surprise to people who don’t know me, cooking! After all, I was raised in a kitchen and formed many good memories with my family there – not to mention honed my cooking skills.
4. What book are you reading or which is one of your favourite books?
I’m currently reading Prisoners of Geography – it’s a fascinating book that connects the world’s geographic characteristics and the state of geopolitics today. Highly recommend this to anyone who wants to pick up a new read to understand how the location of a country dramatically affects its success and power on a global stage.
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