Meet Yeap Ming Feng, the head of Singapore’s leading personal finance platform Seedly, who is set on transforming the FinTech space through his sustainable growth mindset, empowering the economic freedom of younger generations.
Managing our personal finances can be challenging even for industry professionals, let alone the average person. Especially since the recent economic recession, there has been a greater demand for financial solutions to empower individuals with monetary control, and above all, educate people on proper debt management.
Yeap Ming Feng first joined the FinTech startup as an intern, demonstrating great potential. With his proven track record, Ming Feng was quick to climb up the ladder and secure a position as Head of Growth & Marketing, and most recently acquiring the role of Head of Seedly, soon after the founders announced their departure.
In 2020, Seedly was acquired by CompareAsiaGroup, now rebranded as the Hyphen Group, and operates as the financial vertical of the company. The platform continues to champion for a better and more secure financial future for the greater population across Asia.
Through the many ups and downs of a growing business, Ming Feng has aided the expansion and scaling of the platform’s offerings tremendously and continues to drive it to its full potential, facilitating the adoption of its tech solution across Asia.
Join the conversation as Ming Feng speaks on Singapore’s largest personal financial platform, how it facilitates capital management, empowers youth with economic literacy, and the future growth of the FinTech space.
Can you introduce us to your journey to your current role at Seedly?
I am currently the Head of Seedly, and had recently assumed the role about three months ago. I joined Seedly as an intern during a mid-career switch as I was quite passionate about the local startup scene. Back then, there were many startups emerging in Singapore. We had companies such as Carousell that were solving real problems around us.
When the opportunity came up, I felt that it would be incredible to enter the space, regardless of position, I wanted to be there.
Since Seedly is in the personal finance space, it was not quite foreign to me as before Seedly, I was in the finance industry. I first worked in finance at Bloomberg and I then moved on to be a proprietary trader, dealing professionally for a company.
Between these jobs, I am also a co-founding member of DollarsAndSense which is an online platform that provides personal finance content for Singaporeans.
How did you discover your passion for the FinTech space?
I always had a glimpse of the space itself. I wanted to try the fast-paced environment that everyone was talking about. Back then the startup scene in Singapore was booming, and I thought it would be a good time to check out this environment.
More importantly, we know that FinTech is attempting to be more efficient and solve problems that we are facing. Plus, I have always enjoyed finance, which is why I jumped into the business to see where this goes.
What prompted you to first get involved with Seedly?
My experience is more corporate and trading, and all these skill sets did not quite fit well with what the startup space was looking for back then. I spent two months in the library, trying to learn about growth marketing and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
I started looking for any interesting opportunities in the space, and chanced upon this growth marketing internship with Seedly. It was a local startup with two incredibly passionate young founders, it was quite interesting to work with someone with a closer age gap.
Can you introduce us to Seedly’s platform?
Seedly is currently the largest personal finance platform in Singapore. We ultimately aim to be the go-to platform for all Singaporeans of every life stage, to read unbiased content, discover new financial products through our reviews, and also engage in various community discussions that can better relate to their situation.
What problem does Seedly address, and how has it since pivoted in response to growing demand for personal finance solutions?
Seedly first started as a personal finance management platform, where you can track your expenses. We feel that there is a constant gap in personal finance where most people come in with a certain thinking or knowledge that comes from their parents and limited experience.
It used to be a rather top-down approach in the ever-changing landscape of finance that needs to be addressed. We need to have a more ground-up approach towards personal finance.
There are individuals out there who have either experienced or understand the problem you are going through, and these should be the people advising you instead.
In addition to personal finance, what initiatives is Seedly driving in Singapore?
We host the Seedly Personal Finance event once a year, which is Singapore’s largest business-to-consumer (B2C) happening.
Aside from that, we do have a range of services that can help bring brands closer to their consumers. One potential problem right now is that banks cannot get true interaction or reviews from their users directly. We offer a Seedly business account where partners can get verified, and let users know that they are authentic and are able to engage on their Seedly product review page.
We want to help create awareness through advertising, media, and partnership initiatives.
How does Seedly intend to empower both novices and professionals towards better financial management?
First and foremost, we try to drive a basic sense of awareness through our content, simply to enable them to take the first step, and be more conscious of their personal financial situation.
We spend a large portion of our time on user experience, to make sure that the information we put out is easy to digest.
How can one manage their finances better through your platform, and what role does technology play in facilitating this?
Through discussions and the content you read on Seedly, we are able to identify certain information about you, whether you are looking for a house, or are interested in a credit card.
That is where the tech comes in to enhance your user journey. First, of course, by rewarding you, if you make contributions to our community. Next, is to provide you with information seamlessly, that can benefit you in your life stages. We consolidate all the relevant information and serve it to our users to enhance their personal finances.
How has the market demand changed in the personal finance sector over the past year?
We need to be on our toes constantly and be in touch with the latest community trends. Over the past year, I have seen significant growth in the decentralised community. I believe that would be where the community is moving towards.
When it comes to financial products and solutions, what we can do is to understand and help brands and users make better decisions. It can even be about easing the user journey or increasing adoption rates for various products.
With the market constantly evolving, how do you keep up with changing trends?
We are constantly on the lookout for various FinTech companies that enter the space, along with financial institutions who are launching new products. We then try to study and evaluate who these products are for, the concept behind them, and how it is beneficial for the market.
Given that Seedly is a personal finance platform, most of the content on the platform is user-generated by passionate folks looking for ways to grow their money, better insurance policies, or better their finances, which is how they actually form a big part of us staying the most updated.
What we do everyday is that our Search Engine Optimisation team will update us with the latest news and search keywords on Google to understand what Singaporeans are looking for and if there is breaking news.
What excites you the most about the FinTech space?
Five years ago, when I first came into the space, cryptocurrency was not that big. Looking at where the crypto space is right now, we can see how it has transformed. If we go back to the fundamentals of FinTech, it is about addressing issues or creating new products that would benefit a person in terms of their finances, given that finance forms a big part of our lives.
Every day you make decisions, and this form of mediation can be associated with some sort of financial division. For example, this morning, if you wanted to get a coffee, you could either go to the nearby Starbucks or perhaps walk a little further to get it someplace cheaper- that itself is a financial decision.
What interests me the most about the FinTech space is how we are constantly evolving to either complement or challenge the financial institutions in more effective or better ways or with products that a user really wants.
What sets your model apart from other FinTech platforms in Asia?
Seedly is all about the people. It has been that way since the day we created our community, to help people make improved financial decisions.
Apart from advising you on your finances, we create a community that empowers people to help each other, sharing their experiences and engaging through this.
What essential market reform and trends do you foresee in 2023?
It is an interesting time, because if we go across the investment and crypto gap they are all at risk, we are technically going through an economic downturn, which might last for quite a while.
This also means that what we are going to see in the next few years is rather unpredictable, simply because those impacts are here for quick cash-grab right and may not last throughout.
Why is there a greater need to improve financial literacy amongst Asia’s population?
The newer generation probably invested in their first cryptocurrency earlier than their first house. That is the changing trend. They are more willing to park money into banks and some of these other platforms. And with more such platforms coming up, it has become important to deliver information and educate these users on ways they think about some of these products and how they should go about understanding them.
We need to ensure that education and financial currency catch up with these emerging trends and new products.
What does the future look like for Seedly, with you taking the lead?
The previous two co-founders have actually formed a solid foundation in terms of the value and mission of the company. Moving forward, what will change for Seedly is that we are trying to grow the company as fast as possible, and ensure that contributors get rewarded properly. We are also working closely with partners to close the gap even further for brands and consumers.
Being established in the FinTech industry for years, what advice would you have for those looking to venture into the space?
Back to the foundation of a FinTech company, they must first love finance. Most things are not taught in school, so they can start looking to develop their skill sets.
Do not be afraid to take up a course or simply reach out to someone they can learn from. Most importantly, take that internship, you need it to better understand the job better and get market exposure.
What are some personal tips you have to share on maintaining a work-life balance?
For personal finance, or FinTech, it is going to be difficult, because when you are about to unwind from your job, you start making payments, and that is a personal finance decision, so you are reminded of your work again.
More importantly, my belief is that you need to make sure you spend enough time with your loved ones. And you need to enjoy personal finance, in order to make better monetary decisions.
What’s next for your entrepreneurial journey?
I will still continue working on Seedly. I am always on the lookout for new problems to solve, however, and hopefully, I come across one soon enough!