In a region of "country champions" where consolidation hasn't arrived yet, Jirnexu is moving to cement its position in Malaysia's financial services marketplace.
17 May, 2018TECHINASIA.COM
The Jirnexu team / Photo credit: Jirnexu
Kuala Lumpur-based financial services provider Jirnexu has bagged US$11 million in funding, it announced today. The series B round comes after a US$2 million refueling last October, and it’s led once again by Japan’s SBI Group, with new investor SIG Asia Investments joining in.
The investment brings Jirnexu’s total funding to US$17 million so far.
Jirnexu was better known for its financial comparison websites RinggitPlus in Malaysia and KreditGoGo in Indonesia. Yet users opting for financial products through its website had trouble getting them from banks and financial institutions.
Complicated processes such as having to call the bank and sending documents back and forth meant that banks weren’t turning the leads from Jirnexu’s websites into customers. Therefore, Jirnexu didn’t make money.
To solve that problem, the startup launched XPressApply in 2017. The system automates the entire sequence of selecting a financial product, applying directly to the bank, and completing the process through an easy-to-use interface.
That was the beginning of its shift to being a “full-stack” provider, facilitating the entire process from the back to the front end. The company has since added a chatbot component for personal loan approval that will be rolled out with several banks in Malaysia. Jirnexu has also launched insurance products, helping users apply for and buy policies online.
The company reported a 100 percent year-on-year revenue growth for 2017 and expects the same in 2018. Malaysia is the key driver of the company’s current growth, and that’s where most of its services are launched.
“As we scale and launch more products and services, it adds a lot of complexity to the operations,” founder and CEO Yuen Tuck Siew says. To that end, the fresh funding will be used to hire more people.
For now, the company is choosing to focus on growth instead of becoming profitable, according to Siew. “We came very close [to profitability] last year,” he claims. “After our pre-series B round, we had a discussion and the unanimous decision was to grow as fast as possible. The sooner we can launch a product, the sooner we can improve and optimize it.”
There’s a number of financial comparison services in the region, including MoneySmart, iMoney, and BankBazaar, even though Jirnexu is more involved in this type of full-stack service than other startups. Consolidation is perhaps in the cards, but Siew thinks it’s not quite time for that yet. “We ask ourselves why we haven’t seen consolidation yet, as we have seen in ecommerce,” Siew says.
He believes that one challenge is how financial services are much more complex, as it deals with regulations, compliance, and so on. “All this requires a lot more investment. That’s why you see clear country champions that have not really expanded to other markets,” he adds.
Jirnexu is currently ahead of competitor iMoney in Malaysia in terms of web traffic. According to SimilarWeb, Jirnexu’s RinggitPlus is consistently on the upward side of 1 million total visits, while iMoney has fewer than those. That said, iMoney is present in more Southeast Asian countries than Jirnexu.
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