CTO of SC Ventures
SC Ventures is Standard Chartered Bank’s response to the rapid acceleration of the fintech space, with Thorsten Neumann overseeing the technology activities. Currently, the corporate venture builder has a total portfolio of over 30 ventures at different stages creating optionality and building out ecosystems complementary to the bank.
Complementing its internal intrapreneurship and the US$100mn growth-stage fund, SC Ventures focuses on six key thematic domains, including digital banking and lifestyle, online economy and payments, SMEs and world trade, digital assets, capabilities as a service, sustainability and inclusion.
“We are thinking about novel value propositions. For example, by playing to our strengths, we could brainstorm on the agricultural sector by addressing the needs of farmers in terms of seed financing, supply chain, product take-off and logistics solutions to extend the ecosystem in the thematic area of sustainability, and then build out a robust and scalable Cloud-native platform,” Neumann explains.
“We believe we can have a lot more impact in delivering disruptive business models in emerging markets because of the in-house domain expertise, the bank's large footprint and deep local market knowledge through our linkage with the Bank.”
Neumann joined SC Ventures a few months before the start of the pandemic to lead in the role of Chief Technology Officer (CTO). He witnessed one of the toughest periods for the business. Based in Singapore, he previously founded and co-founded start-ups in finance and payments sectors, and aims to enhance the competitive advantage of ventures in a broader market.
Drawn towards entrepreneurship through the influence of his father, Neumann ventured into the development of technology startups, including founding an internet services business in his late teens, which served around 5,000 SMEs in South Africa. He later joined an equity swap trading platform in South Africa, seeing it expand to 23 markets cover 19 different currencies. Neumann is proud to say that these businesses provided great lessons in scaling and go-to-market across geographies. He now applies these learnings for the ventures in their endeavours to succeed in their business models.
Becoming more digital
During the COVID pandemic, SC Ventures was responsible for many transformation efforts that allowed the Bank to continuously operate their businesses from a social distance. One of these processes was the roll out of electronic signatures, which is key for the Bank and clients in terms of security and authorisation.
Neumann also speaks about the plans that are currently underway at SC Ventures, aiming to bring digital banking into its portfolio without detrimentally affecting the traditional model. Discussing the two digital banks – one of them being Mox Bank based in Hong Kong, and new Trust Bank in Singapore – he explains that the “digibank” are the result to differentiate in an underserved segment and tailor to the needs of the mass retail sector.
“We look to our build partners to help us to not only access the best talents, but also take their input on solutioning for these new technology enabled business models,” he concludes.
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