For the next in our series of interviews with fintech innovators from around the region we were excited to catch up with Mario Jordan “Magellan” Fetalino III, the CEO of Filipino fintech startup Acudeen. Ahead of of participation at Symbol: The Asian Fintech Summit next year, we had a quick chat about the foundation of the company, the SME cashflow challenge, and the value of collaboration with incumbent financial institutions.
Can you tell us a little about Acudeen?
Acudeen is a technology enabler for small enterprises that want to liquidate their receivables by way of invoice discounting through an accessible online facility that connects them to financial institutions.
Acudeen was founded by myself and Mario Salazar. We met while going through the Founder Institute program in Manila. My background is in business management and communications being one of the co-founders of the OFW financial education company TGFI, and the digital brains of the acclaimed medical publication, Medical Observer, while Mario’s is in banking technology having done software development for Development Bank of Singapore before.
We were joined by three other key personnel in Jasper Franco, a data and transaction security expert, Regional lead of Beyond Trust, Aya Laraya, one of the key fund managers of COL Financial and founder of Pesos and Sense, and lastly, Yacine Derradji, an alumnus of EBS Paris, and former researcher for multiple investment banks in London and Paris.
Together, we envision Acudeen to play a huge role in attaining financial inclusion for small to medium enterprises across Southeast Asia.
What led you to found the company?
It arose from a personal pain point of mine, being an executive of another company before that deals with multiple multinationals and big corporations. We may have had huge clients but our books were always indicative that our business was at the brink of collapsing due to cashflow constraints.
From that point on, I made it a a personal mission to make sure that I make a solution to this considering millions of other small entrepreneurs like me go through the same issues.
How is the cashflow challenge for SME’s currently impacting commerce in the Philippines?
The ASEAN region has over 70,000,000 SMEs and a huge chunk of these enterprises face a common problem. Those that deal with bigger companies, even if they’ve already accomplished their job, have to wait for 30-90 days before they receive their payment. For most SMEs, this standard practice is killing their businesses as with their capital locked for months, it hinders them from originating new clients, or worse, from supporting their day to day operations.
So for SMEs with cashflow problems, they often look for financing options. Unfortunately, most of them could not comply with the requirements of current bank loan offers, which usually require collateral, positive financial statements, and a minimum of 3 years of operations. The system is too backward looking and fails to see the real potential of a business.
Only 10% of small companies in the Philippines get access to financing via traditional loan options, and we’ve seen that it is similar in other emerging countries in the Southeast Asian region. Acudeen’s technology can push the use of alternative financing options, specifically invoice discounting, to small companies, in case they need to support their cashflow.
What strategies do you find successful when major financial institutions for partnership?
Our business dictum involves a strong belief in collaboration. How we were able to onboard and partner with banks and other financial companies to support multiple aspects of our business is by making sure that our product and processes are dynamic and flexible in able to fit and match their compliance, especially when dealing with regulated aspects of the business.
Beyond your direct sphere, what other fintech trends interest you?
There are a couple of fintech trends that I’m particularly keeping my eye on, notably insurance technology, and financial data/contract online registry systems.
Why are you excited to speak at Symbol: The Asian Fintech Summit?
As mentioned, collaboration is embedded in our company culture. By being able to participate and to share our story to an international audience, we can solidify our relationships with our prospective partners once we push our services outside the Philippines.
Magellan is one of over 100 speakers who will take the stage at Symbol: The Asian Fintech Summit. To find out more and to register for your pass, check out our website here.