Malaysia’s iMoney spreads tentacles across Asia

23 Jul 2013
Features Archive

iMoney, one of the region’s fast-growing financial comparison websites, has officially captured its fifth and sixth territories in Asia with the launch of iMoney Hong Kong (operating under the name “BestMoney”) and iMoney Thailand today.

With the addition of its Hong Kong and Thailand sites, iMoney expects to generate more than US$1 billion in business for banks and insurance companies in Southeast Asia by year end.

An online portal offering free comparisons of financial product such as mortgages, loans and credit cards; iMoney had been expanding at rapid pace over the course of the last 18 months since its inception. Starting out from its home base in Malaysia, local versions of the portal are now available in Singapore, Indonesia, The Philippines, along with Hong Kong and Thailand.

Co-founder Ching Wei Lee, who started iMoney in 2012 in order to solve “a personal frustration with the banks”, attributed iMoney’s success to “being in the right place at the right time”.

“When we first started iMoney in Malaysia, the country had been experiencing extended period of consistent growth in GDP, the middle-class demographic as well as the Internet population,” Ching explained.

“Add to this a growing demand for retail financial products, and what we had was a perfect environment with strong fundamentals on which financial comparison websites such as iMoney could thrive.”

“It didn’t take us long to realise that the same model that applied to Malaysia could also be replicated in most countries in Southeast Asia,” Ching added. “Thanks to backing from Asia Venture Group and the government, we were able to ride on such favourable conditions and expand rapidly, landing in five new territories over a relatively short period of time.”

The company also recently confirmed the appointment of Group COO & Co-Founder Kai Kux. Kai has an extensive background in investment banking, having most recently worked in the M&A division of JP Morgan. With his analytical background and experience in project management, Kai will play a pivotal role in managing the group’s regional expansion.

“We have reasons to be optimistic because conditions remain favourable for our niche sector,” said Ching. “In Thailand, for example, it is our understanding that there are now over 20 million Internet users in a market where loan growth is expected to top 13% this year, which bodes well for a business like iMoney that is reliant on the growth in Internet adoption as well as growth of the financial sector.”

“Meantime, Hong Kong has more than 5 million Internet users and had just experienced growths of 9.6% for loans and 9.3% for deposits within 2012,” Ching added. “The high internet penetration rate and the resiliency of the local banking sector are important factors that will power iMoney’s operations within the territory.”

Furthermore, iMoney sees the emergence of financial comparison websites as natural progression in consumer behaviours stemming from the availability of the Internet.

“With consumers becoming more net-savvy and sophisticated in Asia, we believe more people are going to rely on impartial financial sites like iMoney, which empower them to make better-informed decisions with their money based on updated, unbiased data,” Ching said.

“In Europe, financial comparison sites such as Money Supermarket are already a mainstay on the Internet, and to a certain extent, we’re already seeing the same trend in Malaysia and Singapore,” he added. “We believe it’s only a matter of time before this becomes a fully-embraced concept throughout Asia.” – July 23, 2013.