ING Labs, part of the bank’s innovation arm, has spun out a trade-finance-oriented fintech from its incubation lab in Singapore.
Stemly represents the first Asian fintech created in-house to be established as a standalone company, says Olivier Guillaumond, Amsterdam-based head of ING Labs and its fintech-partnership team. Another branch of ING Neo, the bank’s innovation business, is supporting Stemly with venture capital.
“There’s more in the funnel,” Guillaumond said.
The bank restructured its various fintech-oriented activities in January, moving these out of individual business units and into a department called ING Neo. Neo is a standalone P&L meant to commercialize disruptive technologies developed across the bank.
Under NEO sit teams for venture capital, incubation, Labs to invent fintech models from scratch, and fintech partnerships. When a fintech idea ends up serving the bank, it stays in-house. When its natural customer base involves multiple financial institutions, or if its potential clients would not wish to transact directly with ING, it gets spun out – as is the case with Stemly.
Asia drives trade innovation
The fintech is run by its two co-founders, Sanjay Saini and Giuseppe Manai, who now serve as co-CEOs. The idea was first developed three years ago and went through management changes during that period.
Stemly’s focus is on trade finance and related supply chains, one of five areas where ING Neo is looking to bring disruptive business models, and the one where the bank’s Singapore and Hong Kong offices play a leading role.
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ING Labs’ other outposts, in London, Amsterdam, and Brussels, are also developing fintech capabilities in the categories of financial health, disruptive lending, compliance, and housing, including mortgages.
Two years ago, when DigFin last spoke with Guillaumond, ING Labs was chasing ideas in European capital markets, such as securitization. Guillaumond didn’t say exactly what had become of those initiatives and would only comment on the new structure under Neo. But some original ideas such as trade-finance platform Komgo – a consortium of banks and insurers – endure.
From goods to cash
Stemly uses data-fueled artificial intelligence tools to predict inventory and market demand in trade finance. Its commercial model is software as a service. It is now live with a few global corporate clients. These activities are not core to banking. But Stemly’s A.I. has the potential to develop similar predictive analytics regarding cashflow.
“We are now co-creating the cashflow side [with Stemly],” Guillaumond said. “If you can predict demand for physical goods, you can predict the need for cash. You just need a lot of data.” Some of that data includes market information but it also relies on Stemly’s corporate clients sharing internal information, via their enterprise resource planning software, provided by the likes of Oracle and SAP.
“Companies will share data if it makes sense and if they trust you,” Guillaumond said.
But that involves a long sales cycle, so ING Ventures is infusing the startup with cash: Stemly’s spin out was accompanied by a $2.5 million seed round, with investment from Elev8 and EDB New Ventures (the corporate venture arm of Singapore’s Economic Development Board, a statutory body), among others.