By: 15 September 2023

John Hakim, founder of Moolahgo, spoke to FinTech Intel to discuss financial inclusion and making financial services accessible in Singapore

FinTech Intel interviews John Hakim, founder of Moolahgo

Moolahgo won the Diversity & Inclusion award at the Asia FinTech Awards 2023. John Hakim, founder of the fintech, spoke to FinTech Intel to discuss financial inclusion and making financial services accessible in Singapore.  

What does Moolahgo offer?  

Moolahgo is a prominent player in the field of multi-currency digital payments technology. It is headquartered in Singapore. Established in 2017, Moolahgo has evolved from catering to a diverse range of businesses. It offers competitive foreign exchange and cross-border payment solutions, to innovative digital payment tools through a ewallet mobile app designed for consumers.  

As a fintech company, Moolahgo’s primary goal is to revolutionise the payment landscape across Asia. To extend the advantages of real-time fund transfers to those who are underbanked or unbanked. Thereby enhancing the quality of life throughout the region. 

What does your role involve?  

As founder and chief executive officer, I’m involved in practically all aspects of the company. But at the strategic level, I set the leadership and vision for the company, setting goals and objectives. I spend a considerable amount of time on our product roadmap, setting strategic directions for our product development. R&D is a huge part of our strategy which I’m involved in as well. To ensure that we invest in the right technologies so that Moolahgo is ahead of the pack. For example, this year, we’re focused on delivering our first generative AI enabled product.  

Talent management is also an area that I spend a lot of my time on. To make sure we continue to attract good talents to our organisation. And to reallocate staff to areas that best match their aspirations and skills.  

Last but not the least, I work in regulatory and compliance. The regulatory landscape evolves quickly these days. So being on top of regulatory requirements and putting in place systems and processes to ensure our compliance is paramount. Especially since we are engaged in licensed activities.  

Moolahgo won the Diversity & Inclusion Award at the Asia FinTech Awards. Can you talk about financial inclusion in Singapore?  

Singapore is an open economy and requires foreign talent to augment its own workforce to develop its economies. As a result, its population of 5m includes 1m of migrant workers filling the blue-collar jobs such as construction, domestic workers, etc. This is 20% of the total population. Most of these migrant workers are usually unbanked and have to rely on traditional financial services. So to us, financial inclusion is about catering fintech services to this community so that they too can benefit from technological advancements in financial services.   

How are you trying to serve the un- and underbanked population of the country?  

As a fintech, we continue to innovate to bring cutting edge financial services to our customers. Including the un- and underbanked society in the region. One of the most important services is remittances to support families for basic humanity needs such as education and medical care. With the use of phone number-based cross-border money transfer technology, Moolahgo simplifies the process. This enables migrant workers to easily send money home to their families even without a bank account.  

Besides the ease of use, Moolahgo has also made remittances extremely fast, delivering funds to the families of migrant workers within seconds. And delivering even on weekends and public holidays. This is an important factor for migrant workers so they can send emergency funds to their families as and when needed due to the lack of savings to tide through unforeseen circumstances.  

Moolahgo has also made the cost of remittances much lower to ensure that families of migrant workers receive more funds. For example, Moolahgo’s transfers to Indonesia costs only SG$0.50, which is one of the lowest, if not the lowest, in the industry.   

Lastly, Moolahgo invests in reaching out to the unbanked/under-banked community. Moolahgo runs campaigns to bring awareness to migrant workers about financial literacy and cybercrimes. In addition, Moolahgo also organises Singapore’s Migrant Worker Annual Grand Draw, which awards outsized cash prizes that may be equal to more than 2 years’ worth of a typical migrant worker’s salary. Started in 2021, Moolahgo has since given out close to $70K in the last 2 years. The intention of such outsized cash prizes is to make a profound change to migrant workers’ lives.  

What more can be done to make financial services accessible to everyone?

Public sector support is important from a funding and technology aspect. For example, governments could lower the bar for fintechs to access core infrastructures so that startups can come in to add more innovations to the financial system. Funding for startups that focus on D&I and ESG should also be more readily available. So that they could in turn continue to innovate to provide services to everyone.  

What does the Diversity & Inclusion Award mean to you and Moolahgo?  

The whole team at Moolahgo couldn’t be more proud to have won this prestigious award. We have worked hard to innovate our services for the benefits of all segments of society. This award will spur us on to continue to develop fintech services that deliver real-world benefits to all.  

Is there anything else you would like to add?

We would like to thank Asia Fintech Awards for organising the awards and the judging committee for recognising the important work that we do in Moolahgo. From the nominations list of the various award categories, it’s apparent that most vie for being awarded in the areas of business or technology. We hope that more fintech startups will start to focus more on D&I initiatives to set themselves apart from others.  

Image: Moolahgo

Josh Poyser
Josh Poyser is an editor at FinTech Intel. He has written about fintech for several years and appeared at FinTech Connect 2023 on the 'Unlocking Success: The Art of Fintech PR' panel.