Harnessing the consumer’s power to compare. This, in a nutshell, is the value proposition of MoneyMax.ph, according to Jorrit Koop. The young managing director of one the country’s newest online financial platforms explains why he and his partners chose the Philippines. He says “in many aspects, the Philippines is the biggest market opportunity in Asia. It’s the second-largest in population, and economically, I’s a very interesting market as well.”
MoneyMax.ph is a financial comparison website with a special focus on car insurance, broadband, credit cards and personal and housing loans. It is part of the Compare Global Group, one of the world’s leading financial platforms across Asia, Europe and the Americas. According to its corporate data, it offers free and easy online comparison with more than 1,500 different products, is present in 12 countries, with an additional 8 more countries it is going to this 2015. The group aims to help consumers find the best products for their needs, while providing independent advice as a trusted source. Through their website, consumers can also conveniently access a wide variety of financial and mobile/broadband products in one place.
Koop says MoneyMax.ph is the result of talks he originally had with Nova Founders Capital, whom he met while he was still an investment banker in London and Dubai. Similar to Rocket Internet, where it was originally from, Nova Founders’ main business is founding, incubating and investing in Internet companies worldwide, with a strong focus on Asia. In particular, Nova Founders focuses on financial technologies, where its current portfolio includes MoneyHero in Hong Kong, Money Guru in Thailand, CompareHero in Malaysia and MoneyMax in the Philippines. It is also the same group that co-founded big global Internet companies such as Zalora, Groupon, FoodPanda and Lazada.
In August 2014, Koop says, he arrived in the Philippines, and with a team of five people, embarked on redefining MoneyMax.ph. He says the biggest challenge for him was to “find your way, what is your exact spot in the market, where can you bring the biggest value in terms of distribution of the products, and which verticals we should be focusing on. These are insurance, banking, telcos.” Koop adds that there were at least three factors that helped reshape the company into what it is now. He says the first one wais company culture, which is about initiative, second is company focus, while the third is flexibility. Koop adds that he personally believes that one of the key reasons why many Internet start-ups fail is that “they’re not focused on the right things, and not focused enough on certain key elements.” He explains that sometimes, multi-tasking can be counter-productive, because one will never really be able to get the core of his product properly. So he tells his staff to “do very few things, but do them very well,” and Koop says this allows them to grow very fast.
Today, MoneyMax.ph has grown from five to 50 people in less than a year. It has also trained its sights on car insurance, which Koop says also gave the company a lot of traction with other insurance companies, saying “they love the fact that we weren’t actually so far off from the traditional agency or brokerage model which is very prevalent here in the Philippines.”
In assessing the Philippine market, Koop says financial product is a “trust” product, and Filipino business relationships are very much based on trust. It is different, he adds, in Europe where financial products are not anymore seen as business products but more as consumer products that also need to be taken care of.
As MoneyMax.ph approaches its first year, Koop says he and his people are very much excited. “Now, we’ve very much reached the point that we do need to get into the spotlight,” essentially to reach out to consumers at a more rapid rate. He also believes that the Philippine market is very ripe for getting some help in the Internet distribution channel, and consumers are ready to avail of financial products online.
Koop says right now he is very much focused on making MoneyMax.ph grow and expand into other verticals. He adds that it is taking up most of his time these days, but is something he doesn’t really mind. After all, he enjoys what he is doing, while at the same time having the added bonus of being able to experience a totally new culture in the Philippines. It is also all about being in the moment, Koop says, and right now, there is no other place where he’d rather be.