This Fintech Pioneer Is Making Banking More Accessible. Here's How
Lawrence Chu is one of 20 recipients of the Gen.T X Credit Suisse Social Impact Awards. The awards recognise Gen.T honourees who have made significant contributions to Asian society in the fields of social impact, sustainability or innovation.
Lawrence Chu wants to make financial services more inclusive. His fintech startup Oriente leverages AI, machine learning and data to offer real-time credit scoring, digital lending and other tailored services designed to empower millions in Southeast Asia’s rapidly growing economies.
"Seventy percent of people in emerging markets don't have access to a bank," says Chu. "What we're enabling them to do is access bank-like services without a bank account. This allows them to interact with the rest of the economy. By bringing them into the economy we're helping them, we're helping the economy and we're helping the next generation."
Oriente's socially driven mission has clearly struck a chord. In late 2018 the company announced US$105 million in funding, one of the largest initial funding rounds by any startup in Asia. "The company is on a massive growth trajectory to grow over three times in 2020 across all the key metrics that we measure: revenue, downloads and number of users," says Chu.
But Chu says it's the stories, not the numbers, that get him out of bed in the morning. "I hear great stories from my team all the time about how we're helping our customers. For example, in Indonesia we had one customer who had a small bike repair shop and her tyre machine broke down. She was able to use our app to get the money she needed to buy a new machine so that she could continue her business and feed her family.
"We have another customer in the Philippines who wrote us a letter to thank us for providing her with money to buy books she needed for her law degree—a qualification that can help her change her life and her family's life.
"For me and my team, the most important number and impact is to see what we can do for our people and our customers."
To see all winners of the Gen.T X Credit Suisse Social Impact Awards, visit the Social Impact Awards hub.