CEO Spotlight: Lee Li Meng, the man who plans to gamify finance

Backed by a mothership with a cash balance of over $500 million and zero debt, Razer Fintech is no ordinary new kid on the block. Based in Singapore, they consider themselves the “world’s first global youth bank” and are quickly laying the groundwork for one of the future’s most innovative fintech platforms.

We recently sat down with CEO Lee Li Meng to talk about how his company plans to leverage extensive gaming tech expertise and a largely millennial client base to build a platform for digital banking and financial services. The session was attended by an audience of more than 200, with almost 80% of live polling participants aged 40 or below.

Razer is already a household name for many millennials, so “it’s the key audience we’ll be targeting as we look to expand our business [into digital banking],” Lee explains. While this gives Razer Fintech a head start in the market, the company faces the challenge of overcoming the younger generation’s aversion to banks. “The needs of this group have evolved very quickly and continue to evolve,” Lee says. “Being able to connect with them and really understand what they care about is key.”

Lee sees Razer Fintech’s main point of difference as experiential. “It’s not just a banking app where you make deposits and check your balance. It’s a lifestyle companion.” Another central element for Lee is client trust, which he believes banks have failed to gain. Putting clients first has allowed Razer “to build a very strong cult-like following,” he says. “That same DNA flows into how we run the Razer Fintech business.”

According to audience polling, however, pioneers of non-traditional banking models may yet have some work to do to gain client trust in the personal data space—with only 3% of the audience saying they’d trust a fintech company with their data.

Nonetheless, Lee suggests it is fintechs that own the quality advantage, putting them in a better position to use data to serve their clients. “Users are plugged in the minute they turn on their computers, their mice, their keyboards,” he says. Even without the hardware, which can be expensive for many young gamers, the Razer ecosystem is accessible through offerings such as Razer Gold, a virtual credit that can be used within a catalogue of more than 33,000 items, including games, in-game purchases, entertainment apps and mobile phone recharges.

With 100 million users — many of them also using Razer Fintech’s suite of payment tools outside the gaming realm — Lee sees the potential to make use of a rich pool of data to deliver financial services more intelligently. “We can see how much time they spend online, how much time they spend in a particular genre of game,” he says “It’s data that’s already had benefit.”

Interest in digital banking in Singapore is robust. 72% of the live audience indicated that they believe Singapore “needs” virtual banks, while 60% responded with “Yes” and 26% said “Maybe” when asked if they would be comfortable putting their money in a digital-only bank at superior rates.

Razer Fintech’s next hurdle is to obtain a digital banking license, which Lee explains has been delayed due to COVID-19. Much of the legwork thus far has involved convincing Singaporean regulators that the company has the requisite cybersecurity infrastructure in place to keep its clients’ data safe. A successful licence application, therefore, may help foster greater confidence in the ability of fintechs overall to handle personal information.

The company plans to use Singapore as a launchpad to expand Razer Fintech’s digital banking services across the region—and the world. “We have people in the U.S. and other places saying ‘What about us?’, Lee explains. “So we’ve been able to use that in real time to get a sense already of whether or not, at the start, our users will come in.”

What does Lee care most about? “We take feedback very seriously,” he says. “The thing that really keeps us awake at night is staying relevant.” Emphasizing relevance makes sense given the flighty nature of the millennial target market, which Lee believes is also central to attracting clients from older, more traditionally brand-loyal generations. “If someone younger comes in and they like our product, they’ll go out and bring [everyone else] in.” Making this work relies on staff demographics, says Lee. “We employ a lot of young people. Their input is essential to helping us stay ahead of the game.”

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