While CompareAsiaGroup claims to be the leading financial site in Asia, it’s a highly competitive market. There are at least seven rival sites in Indonesia alone
Hong Kong-based financial comparison site CompareAsiaGroup announced on Wednesday that it has raised $40 million in series A funding led by Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, Jardine Pacific, Nova Founders Capital, ACE & Company, and Route 66 Ventures. Zynga founder Mark Pincus, former Facebook and MySpace COO Owen Van Natta, and others also participated in the round.
Under the CompareAsiaGroup umbrella are several brands each localized for their respective markets: MoneyHero in Hong Kong and Vietnam, CompareHero in Malaysia, Money101 in Taiwan, MoneyGuru in Thailand, SingSaver in Singapore, MoneyMax in the Philippines, and HaloMoney in Indonesia. The site aggregates more than 1,500 financial products including credit cards, loans, health insurance, and car insurance.
The latest funding round will go toward expanding those offerings to more categories, including investment products and life insurance, and into marketing. “We want to make sure in the next 12 months that every housewife will know our brand,” says Gerald Eder, founder and managing director.
CompareAsiaGroup was founded one-and-a-half years ago and has so far expanded to nine markets. The service is free to consumers, while the more than 60 banks and insurance companies that list their products pay a commission in return for expanding their marketing reach.
While many people still rely on word of mouth, advertising, and otherwise stick to what they know when it comes to choosing financial products, that trend is slowly changing. Eder compares the market shift to travel, where in the past people trusted travel agents to find them the cheapest flights and accommodation. But the internet has radically changed how the travel industry works, and most people elect to find the best deals online for themselves.
“It’s the same situation when it comes to financial products,” Eder says. “We show all product providers, not just the products we have a trading relationship with.”
Most of us aren’t switching insurance companies and applying for loans on a daily or weekly basis, so CompareAsiaGroup doesn’t exactly have daily or monthly active users. Eder says people consider new financial products several times per year, though, typically when their current contracts, such as car insurance, expire. When they do come, they’ve usually got cash in hand.
“Nobody that comes to our website comes to browse. People that come to our website come with a specific need,” he says. “People that compare want to buy.”
Compared to the rest of the world, Eder says success in Asia requires a strong mobile experience and human interaction. CompareAsiaGroup operates call centers in every market it operates in. Otherwise, Asians are pretty much the same as everyone else. “The desire for the consumer to save time and money is the same around the world,” he says.
The competition in this space is fierce
While CompareAsiaGroup claims to be the leading financial site in Asia, it’s a highly competitive market. There are at least seven rival sites in Indonesia alone, for example. But Eder says being a regional company as opposed to a country-specific one allows CompareAsiaGroup “to reap tremendous benefits in economies of scale.”
CompareAsiaGroup has strong backers, too. The latest injection from Goldman Sachs will “increase our credibility and trust with the banks and insurance companies that we partner up with,” Eder says. Goldman Sachs will join the startup’s board of directors.
The company was also co-founded by Nova Founders, which shares many traits with regional power player Rocket Internet. Nova’s focus on existing models that are proven and implementing them in markets with huge upsides and low competition is similar to Rocket’s, according to Eder. But as a former Rocket staff, he says the legal structure and culture is very different.
Editing by Leighton Cosseboom
This post was originally published on Tech in Asia.
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