In this TechNode Global Q&A with Pierre Demarche, Co-Founder of Monnai, we had the opportunity to discuss the challenges faced by players in the FinTech industry and the company’s recent fundraising activities. Demarche shares his insights on the opportunities that lie ahead for Monnai as the company continues to grow and expand its presence, particularly in the Southeast Asian market. He also elaborates on the strategies the company has put in place to address these challenges, capitalize on opportunities, and solidify its position as a leader in the digital finance space. This conversation offers an informative look into Monnai’s approach to overcoming obstacles and seizing potential growth in the ever-evolving fintech landscape.

Monnai Co-Founders (L-R): Ravish Patel and Pierre Demarche

Monnai has experienced rapid growth in Q1 with new products, strategic investments, and an expanding team. Can you share some insights on the key drivers behind this growth and how you plan to sustain it moving forward?

Much of our success in Q1 and in 2023 stemmed from tapping into a need that wasn’t being met in the fintech world. We started Monnai with a vision to capture this massive data and tech opportunity by delivering an AI-driven Consumer Insights Infrastructure servicing fintechs and consumer tech companies.

In Q1, we shipped four new products, powering businesses to optimize decision-making ranging from onboarding and credit underwriting to all aspects of account transactions.

We’re bullish about the continued growth potential as fintech organizations globally are facing increasing challenges such as lending decisioning, online fraud, and depth of coverage on New to Credit users (NTC).

This is even more true in markets with very strong economies like Southeast Asia which are mobile-first digital markets, with diverse sets of demographics and massive growth opportunities for increasing access to financial services.

With the recent $6.5 million Series A funding round, how does Monnai plan to allocate these funds to support its growth strategies and further strengthen its position in the fintech industry?

The new round of funding will go toward accelerating our go-to-market capabilities in our key markets and further development of our technology including our proprietary AI-based Decisioning Engine and Data Ingestion Engine.

We’re committed to in-market support in countries like Indonesia, where we just appointed a new Country Director to expand our local presence, Riza Kristanto, who was previously President of PEFINDO Biro Kredit. With digital payments there exceeding $80 billion, there’s a need for clean infrastructure providing access to insights and analytics into a diverse set of demographics to unlock the massive growth opportunities in the financial services space.

In addition to Indonesia, we’re planning to further expand our team and infrastructure in markets where we already have a presence like the Philippines and Malaysia.

As Monnai continues to expand its presence in the global market, particularly in Southeast Asia, what challenges and opportunities do you foresee in this region, and how is Monnai preparing to address them?

In many Southeast Asian markets, identity standards and customer data are fragmented, disparate, and evolving. This unstructured fragmentation is spread across telecom providers, emerging credit bureaus, third party data providers, and financial institutions.

Access to data and technology will create a new level playing field between digital lenders and traditional lenders.

As fintechs look to scale their business, drive efficiencies or enable cross-border transactions, they need access to ubiquitous and timely consumer insights, decisioning technology, and analytics in order to onboard the most profitable users, reduce fraud/compliance risks and expand their business.

We’re addressing this by becoming the single source of truth for fintech decisioning. Whether customers are local, regional, or global, they must have the ability to grow and expand with Monnai’s infrastructure ubiquitously.

For that, we have built a default global platform taking a cross-lifecycle approach to consumer insights for fintechs, providing a holistic view of consumer transactions across silos and use cases. We do this by leveraging multi-dimensional insights and AI models through the largest combination of alternate data sources, including phone, email, device, location, identity, payment, income, employment, and many other data points. Monnai provides fintech organizations with an unprecedented variety and depth of analytics that deliver more value to customers and can be implemented across more use cases, including customer acquisition, identity verification, trust, credit risk, and collections optimization.

We have also invested significantly in data aggregation capabilities in order to automate the integration of new data sources in each market in less than 2 hours, which allows us to create the largest data infrastructure available in each market.

Additionally, we have developed the ability to roll out new local cloud instances of the platforms within a week. This gives the ability to update the data flows (processing, storage, consent, encryption, etc.) in a very agile way, in line with the evolving data and customer requirements, which is a key differentiator for Monnai to scale faster in local markets.

Can you explain how Monnai’s “Global, Yet Hyper Local” approach has contributed to the company’s success and how you plan to continue implementing it in the future?

Our vision is to bridge the gap between hyper-local and global markets.

To achieve this vision, we must develop a default global infrastructure. One of the main mistakes is to build global at the expense of the local. It is both possible and necessary to provide efficiencies to local businesses and support global expansion. To make this possible, it is important to shift from the traditional centralized and siloed business models that were built to address niche markets and use cases, one at a time, towards modern infrastructures that are built default global.

New-age global players like Monnai were built across silos, with a decentralized platform to address international markets and distributed teams to leverage the synergies between local and global markets.

How does Monnai’s technology enable fintech organizations to make more informed decisions across various use cases, such as customer acquisition, identity verification, trust, credit risk, and collections optimization?

Businesses globally have been developing strong capabilities using more and more data to make their own decisions. The challenge is to get access to the insights that will inform decisions across silos and use cases, and in as many useful ways as possible.

There are two key developments worth highlighting for Monnai currently.

Monnai’s AI-based Decisioning Engine is one. We are developing new Explainable AI (XAI) features that allow our models to provide granular and personalized explanations. This provides transformative value for financial institutions to drive decisions in a better way as more transparent and predictive models are crucial with the changing consumer behavior and complex data relationships.

At the same time, we are building up on our Rapid Data Integration. We have built an AI-based Low Code/No Code data ingestion engine enabling us to automate the integration of new data sources in under 2 hours. Improving data ingestion efficiencies by almost 20 times compared to legacy API integration methods. The Data Ingestion engine also leverages Natural Language Processing (NLP) models to aggregate and standardize unstructured data across multiple siloes. This is an industry first, and this results in the fastest data ingestion and expansion that customers can get in the market.

What are some of the key milestones Monnai aims to achieve in the coming years, and how do your current growth strategies and recent fundraising efforts align with these goals?

Our goal is to become a reliable source for businesses globally for fintech decisioning and expand the coverage of our consumer insight infrastructure to more than 90% of the population in each of our key markets across Asia and Latin America. As a result, our focus and investments will be driven by these two key goals to further expand our local presence in our key markets and the technology and AI capabilities leveraging alternate data.

As the company continues to grow and expand, how does Monnai plan to attract and retain top talent from the fintech industry to maintain its competitive edge and ensure the highest level of service for its customers?

We’re opening offices where our customers are and hiring top talent from the fintech industry across the globe. We’re grateful to work with flagship customers and develop advanced technologies. Building a global default consumer insight infrastructure not only represents a large business opportunity, but it is also enabling significant economic growth, which is mutually beneficial for both businesses and consumers. And this commitment is at the core of Monnai, providing businesses with a mission-critical infrastructure that was created with global innovation and diversity in mind.

More specifically, the key benefits and differentiators of Monnai that we are proud of include our single point of integration and maintenance, the high degree of data correlation and standardization that we can support, and the improved data governance that we boast. We also help businesses scale more effectively in a stable and cost-efficient manner.

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