Digital bank for millennials next year

There is a new banking app in town aimed at millennials fed up with traditional banking or without access to physical banks.

Kashmi offers financial services, including bill payments, card transfers, ATM withdrawals and peer-to-peer transactions, and products such as term deposits, investments and loans.

It started as a social payment app, and now has more than 13,000 users.

The firm said yesterday it will be launched here in the first three months of next year, then expand to the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Indonesia.

It said that about 438 million people, more than half of South- east Asians, are not registered with a bank. Many others do not use banking features regularly.

Mr Rakhil Fernando, Kashmi chief executive and co-founder, said: "Ultimately, we believe attempts by banks to go digital are floundering. 

"Our digital banking solution brings an array of financial services to young people and re- engages them with their own finances through a user-friendly, customer-centric design that is expected by today's smartphone generation."

Kashmi's founders are from Sri Lanka, but based in Singapore.

Mr Fernando said users here can import transactions from existing banks. Their peer-to-peer and group spending needs can be done on the app.

"We see ourselves as a complementary service to existing banks," said Mr Fernando.

"If anything, we would be providing an alternative to their mobile platforms through an interface that allows users to aggregate all their transaction information across banks, and do so through an interface that we believe is far more intuitive and accessible," he added when asked if it would compete with traditional banks such as DBS Bank, OCBC Bank and United Overseas Bank.

Companies here are rushing to tap on young, increasingly affluent and mobile users in the region. Singapore-based fintech firm PiSight released PiMoney, a digital financial assistant platform, on Apple's AppStore yesterday, for instance.

A report by communication technology and services provider Ericsson in June said that by the end of this year, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are set to pass 100 per cent subscription for mobile broadband.

In other markets, Kashmi is collaborating with partner banks.

Mr Fernando said: "While interest rates on deposit accounts or cost of loans will depend on the rates offered by our sponsor bank in each country of operation, the behaviour of millennials at the moment tends to indicate that they don't engage with the banking system anywhere near as much as they should, regardless of rates. The app brings all their financial information into one place along with key services that apply to them."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2016, with the headline 'Digital bank for millennials next year'. Print Edition | Subscribe