Agribuddy, financial app for rural farmers in Cambodia, wins Nikkei FinTech competition

Agribuddy, financial app for rural farmers in Cambodia, wins Nikkei FinTech competition

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See the original story in Japanese.

I have come to Nikkei FinTech Conference 2016 where various financial entities, business operators and FinTech startups from within and outside of Japan gathered together to explore recent trends.

During the latter part of the conference, seven next-generation financial tech startups which are likely to dominate the Japanese FinTech market gave pitches to showcase their services. Eventually, Agribuddy, which supports financial management of farmers in Cambodia, was most highly evaluated by the jurors.

Agribuddy: financial management support app for farmers in Cambodia

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Most of farmers in emerging countries have trouble in accessing financial services or their finance management capacity. If they borrow funds from the bank on the security of the farm, they easily spend the money for living expenses before harvest due to poor management capacity. Therefore, they dabble in consumer loan services and that results in a flame-out.

Agribuddy creates credit scoring of farmers according to who grows what kind of crops and provides them to the bank as credit information. Based on the information, the bank loans funds within the credit limit to farmers’ smartphones. The farmers can purchase agricutural articles such as fertilizers from cooperating retailers.

eNFC: next-gen NFC utilizing the human body

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eNFC realizes a solution capable of new Near Field Communication (NFC), which are used for the electronic money card Suica, by replacing NFC antenna with the human body. For example, wearing the provided wearable devices (as a smart device or placed into the human body), users are able to pass ticket checkers in stations only by using his / her finger.

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When passengers walk through the NFC device embedded underground, their bodies work as antennae and they can pass the checker just by touching the checking machine with a finger.

deBit: debit card for bitcoin

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Bitcoin is available only in 1,500 stores domestically. Contrary to its distribution amount, it has not been in use in the real economy. To solve this problem, deBit adopted the debit card method which is available in stores displaying the VISA mark.

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Bitcoin credit card issuers in the world

Although other companies overseas such as Shift are ahead in this field, the deBit team highlighted its advantage in that it grasps the highest and the lowest prices of bitcoin through real-time data collection from exchanges around the world, so that it is able to propose users the best condition for transaction.

The deBit team at Slush Asia 2016 (Image credit: deBit)
The deBit team at Slush Asia 2016 (Image credit: deBit)

Since they have already constructed a business model in which the firm gains profits corresponding to the transaction amount of virtual currency, the service does not require any handling charges on the card. Only an increase of use of virtual currency (via its infrastructure) will produce profit for the company. The service has already been judged lawful in Japan through a legal check.

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Quoine: aiming to be bitcoin exchange of exchanges

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The bitcoin exchange Quoine, which had recently announced the fundraising totaling $16 million from Jafco and others, came on stage. The trading amount of bitcoin at Quione is ranked 7th among the bitcoin exchanges around the world, as assessed by real-time market portal for virtual currency Coinhills (at pitch time, it was ranked 4th).

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Quoine CEO Kariya Kayamori

Contrary to other exchanges which provide services focusing on consumers, Quoine adopts a B2B2C (business-to-business-to-consumer)-like model. It provides back-end service for exchanges by operating like an OEM (original equipment manufacturer), and can even act as an agent for the entire operation of exchanges.

Quoine CEO Kariya Kayamori mentioned that the transaction volume of foreign exchange (FX) in Japan has reached 5 quadrillion yen (about $48.6 trillion), and said that 10% of that may be replaced to virtual currency in the future. Current daily trading volume of bitcoin at Quoine accounts is only 1 billion yen (about $48.6 million) approximately, but Kayamori expects that it can be increased  byup to 100 times.

Guracone: enlightens about bitcoin donation

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Gracone CEO Mai Fujimoto

The team thought of constructing a donation system for mothers, but sending money overseas requires high handling charges. For example, sending 100,000 yen (about $973) requires thousands of yen (tens of dollars). However, it costs only tens of yen via bitcoin. Gracone promotes active donation through enlightening about remittance utilizing bitcoin.

Lognote: marketing support through e-receipt

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Lognote is an e-receipt platform supporting e-receipt issuance work for smart devices, for infrastructure construction and for user retailer marketing. It allows user retailers to contact consumers by issuing point sales system (POS)-linked e-receipt. The firm fundraised 10 million yen (about $83,000 at the exchange rate then) from Japan’s leading online marketing company Adways (TSE:2489) in May of last year.

Nowcast: informs economic trend leveraging big data

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Nowcast established in 2015 originated from the University of Tokyo, and has been working on visualization of economic activities under the theme of ‘to know about the latest economy.’ Its service CPI Now is capable of calculation of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) only within two days, although the national statistics require about six weeks. Since its launch about half a year ago, the service has been utilized by about 180 financial entities.

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Nowcast CEO & CTO Satoshi Imai

Although the previous version had handled the national index, the current version has made available the index for each local area. That enables the setting of prices in specific areas and to set the optimal interest by area or industry.

From the viewpoint of regional revitalization, it provides decision-making data possible by comparing governmental statistics, such as what kind of results had been obtained from measures implemented by financial entities or what was generated at that time.

Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy