BILLIONAIRE-backed financial technology (fintech) startup Versa is on a mission: to create more financially resilient young Malaysians.
Through its suite of innovative and user-friendly wealth solutions, the digital wealth management service provider is making savings and investing easy and accessible for all Malaysians.
Speaking with StarBiz, chief executive officer Teoh Wei-Xiang said the company’s core strength lies in making complicated wealth products relatable to the younger generation, which represents almost 90% of its users.
“We achieve this by enabling users to manage their wealth via a user-friendly, beautifully designed and easy-to-use mobile solution. In other words, no more branch visits, complicated documents and speaking to agents just to onboard or transact.
“Our app is designed in a way where users can achieve their goals within just three clicks, versus other robo-advisors out there that present users with multiple portfolios, which sometimes can be very complicated.
“We feel that wealth should not be a matter of choice. It’s about how to navigate through all the noise and pick the best product,” he said.
Founded by a group of fintech entrepreneurs, Versa was established three years ago as a digital wealth management app.
Since its registration with the Securities Commission, Versa has two main offerings – Versa Cash (savings product) and Versa Invest (risk-based investing portfolio).
Launched in 2021, Versa Cash is the fintech’s flagship product, offering users returns on-par with fixed deposits (FD), coupled with the convenience of flexible withdrawals at any time.
Versa Cash allows users to earn stable returns on their idle savings by tapping into money market funds, traditionally accessible to high-net-worth individuals.
“This is where our partnership with AHAM Capital should be highlighted. Such products are actually not new, just not democratised to everyday Malaysians. Our partnership allows us to ride on AHAM’s offerings via a regulated structure.
“Utilising mobile technology and secure connectivity via APIs, we are able to democratise the offering hence users can start an account with us from as low as RM10,” Teoh said.
The minimum investment amount for Versa Cash is RM10, while it is RM100 for Versa Invest.
In response to diverse market demands, Versa has also recently introduced Versa Cash-i, a syariah-compliant fund, enabling users to perform same-day withdrawals.
Both Versa Cash and Versa Cash-i are under the expert management of AHAM Capital.
“We launched our first product, Versa Cash in 2021, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“At that time, we saw the opportunity for individuals to switch over to us as overnight policy rates dropped from 3% to 1.75%, which meant that returns on their deposits like FD will experience a drop from 3% to 1.75%.
“This environment will then trigger users to look for better ways to manage their savings,” Teoh said.
He added that the comfort of having flexibility was very important to consumers during the pandemic.
“Now, we also believe that the post-financial landscape of Covid and rising inflationary pressures has created a stronger impetus for Malaysians to look for ways to grow their savings and invest for their future.
“Currently, we are averaging around three times more growth in terms of transactions and account openings compared with the pandemic period,” Teoh said.
On the other hand, Versa Invest was introduced in the fourth quarter of last year, catering to customers who are looking for higher return portfolios.
Versa’s key proposition is that its wealth offerings have no sales charges, compared with the typical 3% to 5% sales fee charged by agents.
At the start, Teoh said the key operational challenge Versa faced was the need to convince multiple parties in order to have a proper go-to-market plan.
“We spent over a year presenting our case studies and demonstrating our value proposition for the regulatory part. However, we were fortunate to be the first in the market to receive the necessary licence.
“Additionally, during our launch, we were very focused on doing one thing right, which is why our flagship fund works.
“In the initial days, we had to grow slightly slower to win the trust of consumers and then, once we have a positive net promoter score, we started to scale,” he said.
Versa’s tie-up with AHAM Capital, one of the top three asset managers in the country with assets under management of almost RM80bil, provides the fintech with the access to the right wealth tools for its customers.
Since its launch two years ago, Versa has transacted almost RM500mil through its platform, with 90% of these flows coming from users below 40 years old.
“Wealth business is always a function of trust. As such, we were very fortunate to have partnered with AHAM Capital.
“This had greatly propelled the trust our users had in us, knowing that their funds are being managed by a renowned asset management company with over 20 years of experience.
“Secondly, we always ensure that customer satisfaction is high. A lot of our initiatives involve getting users to try us out first and ensure that we retain them by having the best user experience, best pricing and a simple straight-forward product suite that matches their wealth needs.
“Our app rating is 4.9/5 on Playstore and 4.5 on Apple app store, which is an important indicator for us internally,” Teoh said.
Versa has completed its pre-series A round in September last year where it managed to secure an eight-figure funding.
Teoh said the funding round enables Versa to extend its runway to a healthy position and have enough gun powder to acquire customers plus brand building exercises.
“In the short and mid term, our focus is two-fold: firstly, establishing a strong and positive brand perception among the younger generation in terms of savings and investment; secondly, maintaining high customer satisfaction.
“Our core focus now is to build more financially resilient families, particularly among the younger demographic.
“As for our mid to long-term goals, we have already identified specific countries for expansion, including Thailand and the Philippines, once our technology stack is mature,” Teoh said.