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Curlec’s Year In Review 2020

We’ve all heard that change is the only constant, and that’s never been more true. 2020 has been the most challenging year of the decade for everyone, especially for businesses.

While many had their agility and resilience being put to the test this year, as scaling businesses, the repercussions of the pandemic ultimately teaches businesses of all sizes to do more with less.

And despite the challenges, 2020 has been a real breakthrough for Curlec. Thanks to our outstanding clients and partners, we continue to deliver on our mission to pave for better ways for businesses to transact and take control of their cash flow. Not only are we thrilled to have supported the growth of our clients and partners despite the ongoing pandemic, but we are also continuing to build a talented and diverse team to propel ourselves into the new year.

Key Milestones

  • Secured funding from 500 Startups to grow and accelerate our operations in Malaysia
  • Processed over USD 100 Million in transactions since launching
  • Joined forces with hundreds of partners in 2020, recording a 600% growth in recurring payment volumes year-on-year

Awards

  • Best FinTech Startup Finalist at the TechNode Global’s ORIGIN Innovation Startup Awards 2020

  • Represented the country as the regional finalist at the Tech In Asia x Surge Startup Pitch Arena Battle during the Tech In Asia Conference 2020

  • One of 2019’s regional finalist at the ASEAN Ricebowl Awards for the Best FinTech Startup category

Team

  • Improved employee productivity and performance through new and creative ways to work from home despite the ongoing pandemic and Movement Control Orders (MCO)

  • Launched our Future Leaders programme designed to groom the next generation of leaders of our company and empower change in the way business is done as we scale across Asia

  • Opened our doors to over 30 undergraduate students from Malaysia, Australia and the UK in 2020 to explore opportunities to work alongside experienced professionals and develop new skills and qualities as part of their course requirements and remote internship programmes

 

The impact of 2020 has upended old practices that have been long accepted as the norm. And as we continue to mitigate the current economical impact here at Curlec, we have reworked our technology to provide you an end-to-end solution with improved level of productivity and efficiency. Giving you the ability to be truly in control with your cash flow, ability to automate your payments and manage your projections all within a single platform.

 

So, while we continue to handle your payments each step of the way, you can focus on what matters and grow your business.

 

2020 Software Updates

Introducing One-Off & Recurring Credit Card Payments

Curlec has now broadened our payment offerings to include recurring as well as one-off credit card payments to ensure our merchants get the most comprehensive payment mix for their recurring business activities.

 
Scale Up Your Business With Faster Payouts

Whether you plan to send payouts to your customers, service providers or freelancers, scale up your business efficiently and improve your users’ experience by simplifying your disbursement workflows via our portal or powerful API.

Digitising Paper Mandates

Take the pain out of getting paid and digitise any of your existing PayNet-approved paper mandates to better optimise your payment collection strategy and manage all your transactions online within a single platform.

Group Pay

Redefining the way you transact, Curlec’s Group Pay makes it easy for businesses to automate and collect payments from multiple subsidiaries within a single ‘parent’ account so that you can focus on growing your business.

 
Flexible Subscriptions & Scheduled Collections

Whether it is bi-weekly, monthly or even quarterly collections, optimise your payment strategy by personalising your payment plans according to subscription tiers and give your customers the option to spread out their billings.

 
New Short Links

While we have rolled out our WhatsApp feature in 2019, this year, provide your customers with a frictionless checkout experience by utilising our short links API to request approvals for Mandates and Instant Payments via QR code and URL – which is great for SMS and WhatsApp.

 
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Data security is of utmost importance to us. At Curlec, we keep your business and customers safe from cyber attacks through a two-factor authentication which is an additional layer of security for your Curlec account.

Want to know what’s coming up?

Big things are happening at Curlec this 2021!
 
We are thrilled to unveil exciting new updates we have in store, designed to seize opportunities for a greater online payment experience this coming new year. So, while we continue to handle your payments each step of the way, you can focus on what matters; growing your business. Stay tuned to find out more!
 

Curlec offers businesses the ability to charge for one-off payments as well as set up recurring billings – all through a single, seamless system. Scroll down to get in touch with us via the contact form, or discover more about Curlec here!

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Charge Once, Charge Often? Let’s Talk Recurring vs One-Off Payments

Pricing your product or service is a tough cookie to crack. One dilemma that’s coming up more often is whether to charge your customers a one-time fee (as is traditional), or move towards the direction of recurring payments instead (as is on the rise).

Let’s talk about one-off payments vs recurring payments. How do the two weigh up against each other, and what if…you offer both?


What are one-off payments and recurring payments?

First things first, let’s make sure we’re on the same page in regards to what these terms mean.

A one-off or one-time payment is a single transaction, where the entire amount of the product or service is transacted. As the transaction is completed in one go, there is no continuous relationship established between the seller and buyer.

Recurring payments are transactions that are made repeatedly and periodically over a certain schedule. The billing amount and schedule can be fixed or flexible, but must always be communicated clearly between seller and buyer. Recurring payments include your gym memberships, utility bills and subscription services in general.


How do they work?

One-off payments are simple and straightforward. Be it cash, card or online banking – the customer makes a single transaction.

With recurring payments on the other hand, the customer has to provide authorisation for the seller to credit from their account based on the agreed amount and frequency.

Payment methods which allow automatic recurring billings come in all shapes and forms:

  • Standing orders
  • Auto debit (from credit or debit card)
  • Direct debit (from bank account)


Pros and cons of recurring payments vs one-off payments


Which payment model is more suitable for my business?

Both recurring and one-off payment methods offer considerable appeal. For consumers, recurring payments may be more accessible than higher, one-off payments. On the other hand, many consumers still remain skeptical about allowing businesses to “access” their bank accounts.

But which should your business explore? When making the comparison, these 3 factors can serve as a helpful starting point.

  • What’s the nature of your product or service like

Traditionally, industries which have been well-served by recurring billing models include media, gyms, software, utilities and subscriptions. Services which can be provided on an ongoing basis allow merchants and customers alike to gravitate towards recurring billings for its “set it and forget it” nature.

  • Do you have the right infrastructure?

Managing recurring payments can be complex, so make sure to choose a system like Curlec which eases (and ideally automates) the process instead of adding more work on top of it.

  • What level of customer experience can you provide?

If you’re going to charge your customers on a recurring basis, what guarantee do you have that they’ll stick around? Though the price may be lower, the “feeling” that the merchant is taking money from them every month can make it more difficult to retain customers without good customer service and valuable retention strategies in place.


The intersection point

Despite their differences, you don’t have to see recurring payments and one-off payments as two separate black-and-white entities!

Here’s why – Many payment methods used for one can also be used for the other. For example, many may know Direct Debit (withdrawal from a customer’s bank account) for its fuss-free method of collecting recurring payments.

What many may not know is that Direct Debit can also be used for instant one-off payments. At Curlec, these are known as “click payments” and utilise the same mechanism used to setup Direct Debit.


Why stick to one, when you can offer both?

Your customers have varying payment capabilities, hence why both recurring and one-off payments may have their respective places in your business. Instead of committing to just one, offer your customers the ability to make the choice which suits them best.

Curlec offers businesses the ability to charge for one-off payments as well as set up recurring billings – all through a single, seamless system. Scroll down to get in touch with us via the contact form, or discover more about Curlec here!

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New Feature Alert: Collect Recurring Payments From Credit/Debit Card!

For many of us, recurring billings are without a doubt heavily ingrained into our lives. Our phone services, internet, mortgage and car instalments all make up some examples of recurring payments which are ever-present in our day-to-day lives.

In the past two years, Curlec has been instrumental in making the recurring payments process easier for both business owners and consumers.

We’ve built an end-to-end recurring billing and subscription management system, which has transformed the Direct Debit process to become seamless and automated.


With this, businesses both small and large have been able to introduce Direct Debit to their customers, enabling both parties to enjoy the convenience that comes with recurring payments.

 

Introducing recurring card payments with Curlec

While we previously only provided the option for recurring billing from bank accounts, you can now offer your customers the option to pay with their debit or credit cards as well!


Initially, Curlec’s Direct Debit sparked a buzz in the FinTech scene for fuss-free recurring withdrawals directly from the customer’s bank account.


Now, merchants can enjoy the exact same fuss-free process to collect recurring payments from their customers’ debit or credit cards as well.

 

How does recurring card payments with Curlec work?


Existing merchants, fret not! The procedure to set up recurring card payments is almost exactly the same as what you’re already used to.


For starters, customers need to complete their one-time verification via the Mandate as usual. This time, instead of selecting the “FPX” option, customers simply choose the “Visa/Mastercard” option.


The Mandate is essentially a form that customers fill to grant permission for the merchant to deduct the agreed amount and frequency of payments from their bank account/card.


After filling in all the necessary details, the customers’ card details are tokenised and stored in the system. The next time a payment is due, all you have to do is click a button to collect the payment due.


“Store my card details? What do you mean?”


Concerned customers will be glad to know that card details are not stored by merchants nor Curlec, and are only held by Mastercard Payment Gateway Services (MPGS).

 

The difference for businesses
  • Bigger reach
  • More options for your customers
  • Customers still get to enjoy credit card reward points


With recurring card payments comes all the convenience you’d expect from credit card processing.


As a merchant, you’ll be able to expand your reach to customers who are comfortable with being billed from both bank account and card.


With recurring card payments, there is also the usual credit card incentive of reward points – which might serve as an extra incentive for customers to opt for recurring payments with you.


Most of us are familiar with using terminal machines when paying with card, which typically involves credit card networks such as Visa and Mastercard as the intermediary.


Curlec however, uses Payments Network Malaysia (PayNet) as the foundation for processing both Direct Debit and locally-issued cards as well. This means that card payments which go through PayNet still count when it comes to earning reward points!


That being said, card payments are subject to a higher transaction fee as well as longer wait time.


With Direct Debit on the other hand, there are no card networks involved such as Visa and Mastercard. The only communication that takes place is between one bank to another.


This makes Direct Debit a more affordable option as the processing fee is significantly lower.


To find out more, an article we’ve written earlier delves a little deeper into Direct Debit vs Credit Cards.


Malaysian consumers are generally familiar with the concept of recurring card payments, whereas Direct Debit may feel like they’re granting the business full access to their bank account.


With more traditional industries such as utilities, customers may be more hesitant and less willing to explore Direct Debit, automatically leaning towards card payments instead for their recurring billings and subscriptions.


In the end, it all boils down to having both options in place for your customers.


If you’re a business who would like to explore these payment methods, find out more about Curlec here, or scroll down to the form at the bottom of this page to get in touch with us!

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Surviving Economic Downturns With Subscriptions

An economic crisis is characterised by a fall in economic activity due to a decline in spending, consumption and investment across the economy. In current times, we have witnessed consumers tightening their belts in order to see their way out of this crisis but, with this, we have also seen businesses suffer from a reduction in revenue and cash flow, increasing expenses, poor growth and in the worst cases, business failure.


Here’s how a subscription-based business model could be your antidote to getting your business through this economic downturn.


The SEI (Subscription Economy Index) has found that subscription revenue has grown by more than 350% for the past seven years as recurring revenue-based business models exploded due to digitally enabled, pay-as-you-go services. Subscription services have even shown to be more stable and more resistant to fluctuations in the economy. Customers often prefer to make subscription purchases, which offer greater value for a lower up-front cost, than large one-off payments as these are easier on budgets during times of financial hardship.


Meanwhile, for a business, a subscription model can be preferable for many reasons. Most importantly, it allows for a more predictable cash flow through recurring revenue from existing customers. If your business typically offers one-time sales, it may be beneficial to switch to a subscription model for greater business stability.

 

Why may a business struggle during economic crises?

A business model that relies on one-off sales is likely to face a myriad of difficulties during economic crises compared to their subscription counterparts. The key difference between the two is that one off sales transfer ownership of the product to the consumer, while subscription businesses do not.


Cash flow is crucial in times of economic downturn, and unfortunately some businesses suffer from unpredictable cash flow. While efforts to forecast revenue may help, small changes in the market can result in drastic changes for businesses. The issue here is usually a lack of an ongoing customer base. Businesses that rely on traditional one-off payments tend to have much less of an ongoing relationship with their customer base and therefore it is not easy to up-sell or cross-sell to existing consumers.


Many businesses also face persuasion challenges. During poor economic conditions, consumers are more cautious with their spending, attempting to convince them to make large one-off payments can prove to be a difficult task. Along with this, even if businesses are able to overcome the persuasion barrier, one of the biggest drawbacks of one-off payments is the lack of customer retention. The Customer Lifetime Value of each customer is limited and there is little guarantee of selling to them again, especially during downturn.

 

The Magic Pill: A transition to a recurring/subscription model

Subscription-based businesses are on the rise. A recurring billing model, like that offered by Curlec, may enable your business to see steady growth, benefit from higher revenues and increase in scale.


Attractive and more affordable pricing

Perhaps the main advantage of subscription business models arises from the fact that this type of pricing is much more attractive to consumers. Higher prices act as a barrier to entry and reduce customer acquisition, especially during times of economic downturn.


Larger customer base

The lower barrier to entry may also allow your business to capture a larger customer base, who otherwise would not be able to pay large one-off prices for your products. A great benefit is that it is also easier to offer proof of concept. With one-off payment systems, it can be difficult to offer consumers a trial period. As customers gain full access to the product immediately after subscribing, it is much easier for them to assess the value of your product.


Reducing churn through automation with Curlec

With Curlec’s billing automation, not only is revenue and cash flow much more predictable, Curlec’s services mean that there are fewer gaps between billing cycles, helping to plug revenue leaks and expediting receivables. It is important to note however, that with a subscription model, reducing churn is essential. An easy way to ensure minimal churn for your business is to provide a seamless billing and payments collection process.


Easier to up-sell or cross-sell to existing customers

Subscription based models could also increase customer cart sizes through up and cross-selling. A subscription model enables a business to build a deeper relationship with customers as a result of its customer-centric nature. This ongoing customer relationship means that it can be easier to market additional sales to customers. The customer is already aware of the value that your business provides and is likely to be more receptive to any additional services that can increase the value of their subscription further. Additionally, customers already accept the subscription fees and this means that any additional sales may be viewed as more affordable.


If you are a business seeking to make a transition to a subscription based model, or you are already a subscription business seeking to make your payments collection process seamless, learn more about how Curlec can help here. Keen to know more about the subscription economy? Check out this blog post by Curlec.

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Managing Cash Flow In A Crisis

In times like these, cash is king. The coronavirus pandemic has taken the world by surprise and the main priority of many businesses, large corporations and SMEs alike, has shifted to cash flow optimisation and survival. According to the World Bank, Malaysia’s economy is likely to contract by 3.1 percent in 2020 – a scary statistic for many business owners. This, paired with JP Morgan’s findings that half of small businesses only have a cash buffer to allow them to stay in business for 27 days, necessitates a focus on cash flow for many businesses.


Here’s what Curlec has to say about effectively managing your business’s cash flow.

 

Wait… What is Cash Flow?

Cash flow is a measure of the amount of money that flows into and out of your business over a given period of time. A business can be cash flow positive, which means that more money is flowing into the business than out of the business, or cash flow negative, which means that more money flows out of the business than into it.


Operating, financing and investing activities cause changes in the cash flow of a business.

 

Why does it matter?

Managing and optimising your business’s cash flow effectively is essential in ensuring business survival, especially in times of financial hardship brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.


A wise (wo)man once said ‘cash is king’ and at Curlec, we second this view. This is why Curlec recommends Direct Debit to optimise your business’s cash flow.


Cash flow is essential for daily operations, paying bills and to cover day-to-day costs. Cash flow also gives you business greater flexibility – be it with purchasing decisions, debt management and credit acquisition. Moreover, in order to grow your business, you’ll need to reinvest and in order to reinvest, you’ll need cash.


Managing your business’s cash flow means that you know when money will be flowing into your business and optimising it means trying to get more money to flow into your business at a quicker rate.


The goal is to always be cash flow positive. Learn how Curlec can help with this here.

 

Tips on how to manage your cash flow…

First up, don’t panic! We know it can be stressful trying to keep your business afloat during these uncertain times but panicking isn’t going to help. Try talking to key stake-holders in your business and be transparent about the issues that you’re facing. Those who know your business well may be able to help you think of ways to increase the rate of money flowing into your business. Think outside of the box! We’re currently facing a global pandemic and nearly all of us are facing economic conditions that we’ve never faced before. You may need to be creative with your ideas in a situation like this.


Here are some short-term and long-term ideas to get you started.


Short-Term Solutions:


Monitor Your Accounts Receivable

Accounts receivable is simply any money owed to your business from your customers. The goal here is to expedite your receivables. The first step is to solidify the basics: timely and accurate invoicing and switching to electronic invoicing could be a more efficient option. Another option to consider is shortening payment terms, thereby allowing you to expedite your receivables in critical times like this. Your business’s payment terms and payment collections process is crucial in ensuring a stable and healthy cash flow. When you have more time, think about whether your payment process supports cash flow optimisation.


Read more about Curlec and how we can help with this here.


Extend Payables

This refers to the money flowing out of your business. Think about ways to reduce the amount of money flowing out of your business by delaying payments. We recommend caution when doing so. Be transparent with suppliers and communicate with them in order to preserve your supply chains.


Reassess Variable Costs

A simple way to do this is to reduce discretionary expenditure. Consider reducing full-time work to part-time work, if possible, in order to reduce labour costs or consider operating a work from home program, if you don’t already have one, to reduce commuting costs and potential rent expenditures. Some solutions could also be as simple as providing fewer snacks in your office pantry!


Long-Term solutions:

Select A Payment Method That Provides Long Term Cash Flow Stability

Cash flow stability means that you’re confident that more money is constantly flowing into your business than out of your business. Curlec is here to help you manage your business’s cash flow with Direct Debit. Automating your payments with Curlec means that you know exactly when you’ll be getting money from your customers and ensures that these payments are always made on time. If your current payment method doesn’t support cash flow stability, consider making a switch.


Request a demo from Curlec here.


Reassess Fixed Costs
In uncertain times like these, a good option is to consider converting fixed costs to variable costs where possible. Think about leasing large fixed assets instead of purchasing them and reassess your business’s investment plans. It’s probably not the best idea to be making risky investments right now and doing so could destabilise your business’s cash flow even more.


The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the importance of a steady and healthy cash flow for all businesses. Cash flow optimisation is not always an easy task, especially when operating a business model with a heavy reliance on recurring payments.


Curlec is here to make your payments collection process seamless with Direct Debit. Get in touch with us to find out more about how your business can automise its payments collection process.

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Life at Curlec

Remote Internships Part 2: How Research & Analytics Interns Drive Data Driven Decisions At Curlec

Technology is rapidly becoming a driving force in the country’s financial sector. In saying so, the area of FinTech can be quite broad and will continue to expand as technology evolves and the number of financial offerings increases.


Today, we sat down with our Research & Analytics interns, Andrew and Min Qi as they share their insights on how their work drives data driven decisions at Curlec.

 

Andrew Lee

Andrew, who has recently completed his First Year in BSc Accounting and Finance at The London School of Economics and Political Science decided to join Curlec to learn more about FinTech and experiencing what a work-life culture would be like in a startup company.


Working closely with both Founders, Andrew enjoyed the mentorship he received from Steve and Zac, especially interacting with both founders on a daily basis towards completing his assigned projects.


“There is no limit on your learning curve! Due to the relatively ‘flat’ management structure, one has many opportunities to interact with the founders of the company to learn about their journey and listen to advice on dreaming and aiming high,” he says.


“During my first month with the company, I worked mostly with Steve to complete a comprehensive analysis to identify common trends within the payment ecosystem. Teaching myself the SQL programming language in the span of an afternoon on my first day was an amazing challenge. This opportunity emphasises the start-up nature of the company to me – that you learn on the go!” 

 
Min Qi Boo

Currently pursuing a BSc in Accounting and Finance at The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Min Qi is driven by the growth opportunity and learning experience a startup has to offer by joining Curlec.


Speaking about her experience with the company so far,

“The learning curve is steep since Curlec operates in a fast-paced environment. I am constantly learning on the job. Interning at Curlec has given me a sense of ownership of my role as we are entrusted with responsibilities which adds value to the business. Although we do not expect someone to hold onto our hands to guide us through every step of the way, the team is always willing to shed some light and provide guidance when we face challenges.”


“At Curlec, I was involved in the market research project, working directly with Zac and Steve, the main founders of Curlec. As Curlec is a Direct Debit provider, my research covers the payment landscape in Southeast Asia, identifying key trends in consumer behaviours and preferences in order to gauge Curlec’s potential addressable market. I was also given the opportunity to conduct market analysis and competitor research which forms part of the industry analysis,” she says.


Reflecting on her time at Curlec, she cites it as an intriguing and exciting journey.


“I was constantly placed in a fast paced environment filled with golden learning opportunities and many eye opening experiences, especially while conducting in-depth market research as well as having the chance to understand how cultural habits and lifestyles differ from country to country.”


“In my opinion, Curlec has been and will continue to revolutionise the payment ecosystem in Malaysia, and soon, in ASEAN. As we are moving from a product economy to a subscription economy, companies from various industries are starting to explore a subscription-based business model. The model payment collects on a recurring basis and engages with customers in a long term relationship. In this day and age, this is a major trend that can redefine the business landscape. This is where Curlec comes into the picture as the leading Malaysian FinTech player – providing an accessible Direct Debit service to businesses of all sizes,” she says.


“Working at a start-up can be a challenging experience, but more importantly, it provides you with an opportunity to gain hands-on experience that can accelerate your personal growth. My time at Curlec has been meaningful and valuable. This will forever be an experience that I will reflect back on with fond memories in the years to come.”


Want to work with us? Our team come from a variety of backgrounds and we always welcome diversity – submit your applications today by visiting www.curlec.com/careers

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Life at Curlec

Remote Internships Part 1: A New Normal For Curlec Interns This 2020

As temporary job displacements reached a record high during the pandemic due to business closures and movement control orders, flexible and remote working arrangements have become a critical enabler to ensure both business and economic continuity.


Now, a few months down the line, as we attempt to adapt to the increasing demands of the new normal and go virtual, these circumstances have opened up new opportunities not only for our existing team, but also university students looking to gain first-hand working exposure as well as try a hand at the current job market, especially in FinTech.


At Curlec, we offer university students and fresh graduates the opportunity to learn industry traits in a robust programme that applies classroom theory to real-world challenges. Thus, understanding the ecosystem and technology that powers our products and services are crucial, and this is heavily infused in our work environment.


Today, we caught up with our new set of interns to shed some light on the working arrangements post Covid-19 and what they have learnt on the job so far.

 

The Interns Behind Curlec’s Technology

“As a first year Computer Science student at Swansea University, it has been fun working and learning with the team at Curlec. Throughout the duration of the internship, I have learnt to code Javascript, HTML, CSS and PHP to develop plugins which allow businesses to add payment gateways on their website.”


“Currently based and working remotely from Kota Kinabalu, I joined Curlec because I’ve always been curious about how things work in a FinTech startup and also would like to take this opportunity to learn about web development.”

– Lawrence Ngu Ley Chun, Kota Kinabalu


Having had no previous experience in web development prior to joining Curlec, Brandon Ho, an undergraduate student pursuing Computer Science at Imperial College London has always been interested in startups and FinTech.


“I really enjoy working closely with Curlec’s Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Steve and Subbu. The past couple of weeks have been extremely rewarding, juggling the production of working demos as well as navigating a new framework I just learnt.”


“Although I have been working remotely from Kota Kinabalu, I am really enjoying the experience so far. People often misunderstood that a job in Tech is very easy going, even though it’s not as easy as it seems. Technology is evolving everyday and along with it, we ourselves have to constantly upgrade our toolbox to stay ahead.”

Brandon Ho, Kota Kinabalu



 Taking up A-Levels at Kolej Yayasan UEM prior to joining Curlec, Jonathan has assisted on a variety of tasks, including both production and upgrade works on the existing system.


“This internship experience has enabled and motivated me to learn new technical skills in the fastest way possible. Having supportive mentors and teammates, in addition to the flexible timetable, the experience has been a rewarding one so far, especially when the work that you produce is put into actual use.”

– Jonathan Foo Jen Ji, Kota Kinabalu



 “Adaptability, willingness to learn new things as well as being able to make quick decisions are some of the qualities that everyone needs to know about working in the startup scene,” says James, a current undergraduate student from UCL.


“I am currently working on upgrading the system together with the team, and I am glad that I have mentors that are very friendly and helpful who are willing to take the time to teach us the ropes of the job remotely. Here, I am able to work closely with my mentors and peers in an environment where we can easily collaborate and ask questions regarding the work we have done.”
– James Ong Lee Jie , Johor Bahru


An Imperial College fresh grad with a degree in Electrical & Electronics Engineering degree, Yee Hong is currently assisting with the cyber security program at Curlec from Penang.


Speaking about his first working experience since graduating, he cites:

“Competition is strong regardless of the company being a corporate or a startup. It is all about finding your niche and standing out from the crowd. I enjoy taking ownership of the projects assigned to me, having to lead them as well as advise the team on what needs to be done.”

– Low Yee Hong, Penang


Taking up IB at International School Kuala Lumpur with ambitions to pursue Software Engineering in the future, Evan came to Curlec with the hopes to get hands-on working experience as well as learn more about how coding works in the real world.


“At the start of my internship, I was looking forward to focusing on back-end coding, so i didn’t expect to be assisting the marketing team with the front-end work as well. It was a good surprise though, and I would never have realised how important front-end coding is without this internship.”
– Loo Hsien Rong Evan, Kuala Lumpur

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the feature as we caught up with our Research & Analytics Interns, Min Qi and Andrew on how their work drives data driven decisions at Curlec.

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Life at Curlec

Muaz Anuar: Cracking the Business Development Strategies as New Hires.

From building strategic partnerships, planning business expansions to identifying new markets, Business Development Managers are the cornerstones in any successful organisation that ultimately generates new revenue and contributes to the company growth.


Speaking about his onboarding journey with Curlec, we caught up with Muaz Anuar who had just recently joined the team and jump started his career as a full-fledged Business Development Manager at Curlec.

 

What Makes Curlec Different?

“Working at Curlec is definitely an eye opening experience for me. With an education background in Software Engineering and previous working experience as a Financial and Investment Consultant, the onboarding journey I had with Curlec really helped to refine my skills to focus more on problem-solving,” says Muaz.


“Unlike any other startups out there, Curlec implements a program that instills a variety of expertise to have you work from the ground up, which definitely stood out compared to any other FinTech startups I’ve encountered.”


Specifically designed for experiential learning, the program involves a full day-to-day involvement in actual projects and work alongside Curlec’s outstanding experts whose perspectives contribute to the understanding of the business, its demands and rewards.


“The orientation is all about setting me up with everything I need – this includes a brief overview of how Curlec was established, where the company is headed, how the product has evolved, getting to know the teams who I will be working closely with, as well as an introduction to the company tools,” he says.


“The first week is probably the time where I have the most ‘ramping up’ to do. Every day is different, and there is definitely a real mix of internal and external interactions between the team, partners that we work with as well as the customers and clients.”


The key here is to utilise the first week on the job to get the lay of the land, learn and listen. Once you have established this, then you can start moving and make an impact.

Monday: Take Notes

The first day is all about getting to know the team and bringing you up to speed regarding the payment industry and the current trends.


“Some of the key things I had the opportunity to learn from the Founders were identifying the brand’s core differentiators, understanding the roadmap of what is ahead, as well as familiarising myself with Curlec’s current product offering. The idea here is, I should be able to foresee where the payment industry is headed as well as how do we fit in the wider payment ecosystem.”

 

Tuesday: Get Friendly With The Team.

A major part of starting a new job is getting to know the people you are working with – understanding the company structure and what roles each team plays to complete the working ecosystem.


“While it is important to fully understand how each team fits in, and the processes which make the team excel in what they do, this is also a time where I start to build relationships with the people I will be working with, especially if we were to work together in the long run.”

 

Wednesday: Getting Technical With The Product

Day 3 is all about getting the grips within the technical side of our product and learning how to handle clients from the Customer Success perspective.


“Ultimately, the goal here is to achieve an in-depth understanding of the Curlec system by diving into how our clients and partners manage and administer their day-to-day business transactions with their customers using our dashboard.”


Having relationship-focused client management allows the alignment of both the client’s goals with ours for mutually beneficial outcomes.


“Support shadowing is crucial. Among the many practical things I had to do was to listen in during meetings and calls in order to analyse the type of questions we receive and learn how to answer correctly to better understand and serve our clients.”

 

Thursday: The Art Of Negotiation

Generally speaking, deciding which leads to pursue and strategies to employ are actually high stakes decisions. While a good strategy, if implemented well, can drive growth and profitability, a faulty strategy can prevent growth, in turn, frustrate valuable clients.


This is where you put your consultative approach to practice and make your first outbound calls and qualifying possible opportunities!


“Becoming a SPINNER is all about adapting the selling process to your customer and delivering personal solutions. This is where relationship selling becomes customer centric, as you grasp the parameters of sales by understanding the type of judgement calls you do and the etiquette for discussing these topics with prospects.”

 

Friday: Becoming The Expert

After an intensive week, the last day is all about ironing out anything you might still be unsure of and getting you to pass the final assessment before becoming a full fledged Curlec expert.


“This is where they test your product knowledge and highlight potential client gaps by demonstrating your insights on Curlec. Life in a startup is mostly all hands on deck. There is a big focus on upskilling new joiners to become an expert in all things Direct Debit. So, expect to be thrown into the deep end, but having the right people there to help you build your skills up with you.”


“Now, a few months down the line, I can definitely say I am a certified member of the Business Development team. Curlec has done an excellent job of bringing together theoretical and practical teachings for new hires, and enforces the value of continuous learning. As Curlec continues to grow, we face new challenges everyday and will continue to find more ways on how we can serve more businesses first in Malaysia, then beyond.”


Want to work with us? Our team come from a variety of backgrounds and we always welcome diversity – submit your applications today by visiting www.curlec.com/careers

Categories
Press

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

Categories
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”.