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SC Ventures launches fintech startup for retail banking

By Zach Thompson
Wed 3 Aug 2022

SC Ventures has launched Appro, a fintech startup, to simplify the retail banking user journey, aiming to foster greater efficiency in application processes for retail banking products.

Appro digitises, streamlines and simplifies the retail banking journey by reducing the time taken to complete application processes such as credit cards and personal loans from hours to minutes.

SC Ventures says that Appro gives the market an offering that makes onboarding the application more straightforward for customers, meaning they only need to complete a single application per product.

Using the application to capture all required background information and preferences from each customer, Appro shares these data points securely with all participating banks, enabling them to qualify customers and, in turn, recommend their most relevant products for each customer.

From here, the platform collates the products most suitable for the customer and ranks them using a unique algorithm based on the customer’s indicated preferences, affording an easier, more informed and intelligent decision-making process.

At the same time, the participating banks get the pre-processed applications for each qualified customer, which already include the outcomes of all necessary bank onboarding activities, including Know Your Customer, customer due diligence, credit-worthiness assessments and fraud checks.

SC Ventures is the innovation, fintech investment and ventures arm of Standard Chartered.

“At SC Ventures, we are focused on finding solutions to problems we identify in the market and will serve customers in the ways they want and need to be served,” SC Ventures head Alex Manson says.

“Appro’s platform is a fantastic example of such solution that has emerged from a customer-focused approach to remove a great deal of friction from the onboarding experience.”

Appro was founded by three Standard Chartered employees, Iftekhar Salim, Tarek Osman and Antofelix Rajan.

Working as retail bankers for the company at the time, they understood the pain points customers often experienced during drawn-out onboarding processes for retail banking products in the United Arab Emirates.

The fintech was then incubated at SC Ventures, with early-stage investment on three occasions.

“Our goal is to bridge the gap between customers looking to find the best deals in town and banks’ concerted efforts to be positioned as a superior service provider,” Appro CEO Iftekhar Salim.

“When we developed our first solution to this end as part of an internal retail banking challenge facilitated by SC Ventures in 2019, we managed to reduce turnaround time for mortgage pre-approval letter issuance from six days to a mere 45 minutes.

“We saw our mortgage booking volume jump significantly, and this really validated the market appetite we had only surmised up to this point.

“It drove us to see what else we could build to better serve both customers’ and banks’ needs in the retail banking space.”

Appro’s platform launches in the UAE with credit card and personal loan applications.

The company intends to expand the platform to include mortgage loans and automobile loans, as well as current and saving accounts and wealth management products in 2023.

In addition, it will introduce the ability for banks to embed Appro into their existing websites and applications, giving them the option to process their own self-generated leads instantly.

Further, the fintech has plans to scale across the wider Gulf Cooperation Council, followed by markets in the Asia Pacific, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia and India.

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