500 Startups Invests In Malaysian Recurring Payment Platform Curlec

KUALA LUMPUR, 15 June 2020 – Amidst the current global Covid-19 pandemic, Malaysian-based FinTech startup Curlec has just reeled in new investment from global venture capital firm, 500 Startups and is set to utilise this capital to further grow their Malaysian operations through product development, strategic initiatives as well as market expansion.

Co-founded by Zac Liew and Steve Kucia, Curlec makes it easy for businesses to collect recurring payments and take control of their cash flow. The company does this by building technology on top of the Direct Debit bank-to-bank payment infrastructure, which is a system that historically was only accessible to large corporates. Curlec now serves businesses of all sizes from SMEs to Enterprises, and has processed over RM250 million (over US$50 million) through the platform since launching in early 2018.

Despite the disruptions that Covid-19 and lockdowns have caused to the economy, the company has seen a surge in traditional businesses, that can no longer transact in person due to the current pandemic, come online. In addition to this, the company has experienced an acceleration of merchants moving to subscription businesses models, in order to obtain predictable revenue and combat the threat of huge decreases in cash flow that may arise from another crisis in the future.

Zac Liew, Co-Founder & CEO of Curlec
“In light of Covid-19, we continue to see growth in our offering, with many traditional businesses having to shift online. Despite the lockdown in Malaysia, we are continuing to average 20% month-on-month growth this year in transaction volumes, which just highlights the current demand that businesses have to move towards online recurring payments. We are thrilled to have a VC like 500 Startups believe in us and support us in this journey,” said Zac Liew, Co-Founder & CEO of Curlec.
He adds, “Our vision has always been to enable businesses of all sizes to access the previously inaccessible Direct Debit system. And now, as the market continues to evolve, we are expanding our vision further to also help businesses grow by enabling them to enter the subscription economy firstly in Malaysia, and then Southeast Asia.”

Despite the extension of the movement control order (MCO) in Malaysia, the adoption of digital payments in Southeast Asia has reached the inflection point and is expected to cross $1 trillion by 2025. In addition to this, JPMorgan estimates the market size of the subscription economy is expected to rise to over US$530 billion in 2020. The need for technology enablers has, therefore, become paramount to access this, and Curlec believes that their offering is well positioned to suit the growing demand for online subscription models.


Khailee Ng, Managing Partner of 500 Startups.
“Curlec has successfully gained strong traction in fulfilling the current market needs, in addition to accelerating business performance. There is a huge opportunity for the company to grow in this space, especially now with the unprecedented collaboration between FinTechs and governments in solving national issues of financial inclusion and digitalisation of economies not just in Malaysia, but also with other ASEAN countries on a national FinTech roadmap level,” said Khailee Ng, Managing Partner of 500 Startups.
“We are excited to take this journey with Curlec in paving the way for better online payment experience for the SME market, first in Malaysia, then beyond.”

Historically known to be a paper-based system that only provides access to large corporates due to the heavily manual processes involved and custom-developed software needed to deal with individual banks, Curlec’s technology enables businesses of all shapes and sizes to access the Direct Debit mechanism through their cloud based application or a simple API that automates the entire collection workflow. This ultimately puts businesses in control of when they get paid and their cash flow.

For more information on the story, read the media coverage of Curlec on e27, FinTech News Malaysia and The Business Times

Case Studies

Cheng & Co: Empowering Accountants And SMEs Using Curlec’s Online Direct Debit Solution

As Covid-19 continues to unfold globally with most countries putting their citizens under lockdown, the repercussions of the pandemic are causing a profound effect on businesses, both big and small – challenging professional services to configure their workforces and operations to better manage their client’s cash flow position and maintain visibility over the cash pipeline as a first line of defence.

From a business perspective, accountants generally struggle to get clients to pay their fees on time. And unpaid invoices can leave serious gaps in the financial report, along with the hassle for accountants to chase the late payers. Now, with unprecedented economic uncertainty, accounting firms are resorting to acquiring advance payment prior to the work submission to ensure they are able to cover and maintain the necessary expenses and overhead.

Accurate financial reporting is crucial in driving decisions that run the business. And for the calendar year end businesses, this will be the first financial year when the impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak are reflected in their financial statements.


                               Tom Wong, Chief Executive Officer of Cheng & Co.

Founded in 1993, Cheng & Co is one of the largest local accounting firms that serves over 6,000 SMEs in Malaysia by providing professional business services in the areas of tax, accounting, company secretarial and business consulting. With over 14 branches located across Malaysia and 4 branches overseas including Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Australia, the company serves predominantly SME businesses along with fellow startups and larger corporations.

Prior to adopting Curlec, Cheng & Co was facing a number of challenges, including time wasted relying on manual administrative work, as well as chasing for late payments with invoices as low as RM1.25.

What’s more, 100% of their clientele were utilising manual methods such as cheques and bank transfers to pay their dues, putting a large portion of effort for Cheng & Co into managing time and manpower to solve these discrepancies in their cash flow.

There are a number of implications on how the disruption of cash flow can affect your business. But now, coupled with the current economic uncertainty due to the outbreak as well as having the team work remotely from their homes with limited access to their clients, the process of issuing and collecting manual payments continues to be delayed until the Movement Control Order (MCO) period has been lifted. And having limited to no access to client documents in the meantime proves to be a major issue in ensuring business continuity.

Speaking about the repercussions of Covid-19 towards the firm,

“Being in the B2B space, many of the businesses we serve are closed until further notice to comply with the MCO order. And due to this closure, we are not able to physically meet with our clients and they are not able to make their payments on time, causing a significant disruption in our business practices,” said Tom Wong, Chief Executive Officer of Cheng & Co.

In seeking to improve its operational efficiency during this lockdown period, Cheng & Co aims to upgrade their subscription-based model by incorporating a Direct Debit system to automatically collect and reconcile these payments with their own accounting system.

“It is imperative for businesses to evolve and adapt to new technological advancements in order to keep pace with the changing global landscape, especially with the current situation today,” said Wong.

                                                         The Cheng & Co Team

And now, with the partnership with Curlec, Automated Direct Debit has become a new standard for Cheng & Co’s clients in Malaysia.

Incorporating Curlec’s services designed specifically to handle both recurring (designed for recurring secretarial services) and one-off payments (for tax services), the system has enabled Cheng & Co to not only provide a seamless payment cycle for its clients, but also diversify it’s payment plans to provide more options that benefits both the firm and the clients during this MCO period, such as the incorporation of instalment schemes within the terms for outstanding payments.

“With Curlec, we are able to redefine the way we receive our returns as well as diversify our payment offerings to suit the different agreements we have with our clients, offering both reliability and the flexibility needed to weather out these trying times. Making strides in payment efficiency, Curlec integrates seamlessly with our cloud-based accounting software, Xero to streamline our entire collection process, helping to digitise our businesses in line with the current situation, thus, giving our clients the full package.”

For a traditional business like Cheng & Co, Curlec’s payment solution makes the payment process easy to initiate and monitor, as they work closely with the company to integrate all the invoices with payment links for our clients to easily make payment through email or WhatsApp. Since the company has incorporated everything into a single system, Cheng & Co know exactly when they get paid as well as what is coming down the cash pipeline every month, making it so much easier for the company to plan its internal finances.

“Moving forward, we are working to move at least 50% of our collection done through Direct Debit”.