«It Is Just the Way People Do Things»

Investor Melissa Guzy on Fintech in Asia

Flying in from Hong Kong – via San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Tel Aviv – Melissa Guzy from Arbor Ventures met a highly interested Zurich crowd. The questions in the two closed-door roundtables about how she feels about the potential of Switzerland’s start-up scene, its financial sector, or partnerships with local institutes flowed towards the experienced venture capital manager. 

Moderator Eunice Zehnder-Lai represented the public well, when asking Guzy how she did end up with Fintech, if it really is the future of banking, and what local banks should keep in mind when resisting clear trends that are already in place in Asia.


«I'm carrying seven or eight currencies with me right now. Why?! I should be able to have these currencies on my phone and I should be able to swap between currencies when I want to pay for things.»


Asia has no credit bureaus except for Japan, explained Guzy. So companies did not only start using alternate sources of data to do underwriting, they have also been far more creative in how they do underwriting: no loan officer, collecting and processing paper, no committee, but massive amounts of data that lead to multi-purpose apps like WeChat. The Chinese messaging application offers also social media and mobile payment services and is «completely integrated into people’s lives», states Guzy.

She feels strongly especially about on-demand services: «It’s one of my favorite subjects. I think this is absolutely one of the coolest things… I think on-demand insurance that people can afford at their current time when they need it, is exactly the way the industry is going to go in Southeast Asia.»

Moving to Hong Kong in the late 1990s Melissa Guzy had to learn the hard way what she summarizes today as: «It is just the way people do things.» She had to realize nobody answered the voicemails she was leaving because they never listened to any of them. So, she had to adapt to e-mail, and by now it is WeChat – if you don’t use it, you just don't get an answer. In short, the message was clear: You have to adjust your communication style. Responding to the question what that means for wealth management, Guzy added: «It’s going to have to be digital, is going to have to be online, and it has to be mobile in Asia. There's no doubt about that.»

Guzy also has no doubts about data being the new oil and data scientists the most sought-after employees. Universities need to adapt, but also financial institutions – like many other sectors – need to find new solutions to pressing questions: How do you monetize a customer once the margins are gone? Is the «Netflix-model» the only way going forward? How can you scale your solution?


Watch the full conversation here:


Melissa Guzy is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Arbor Ventures and has more than 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and as a venture investor. With Arbor Ventures, she focuses on investing in FinTech, Big Data and Digital Commerce. Arbor has offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Tel Aviv.

Prior to the founding of Arbor, Melissa was the Managing Director, member of the Investment Committee and head of VantagePoint Capital Partners Asia. During her tenure at VantagePoint, she invested in early stage technology companies in both Asia and the Silicon Valley. Her current Board positions include Demyst.data, Paidy, and TravelersBox.

Read our «Behind the Scenes» interview here: «Things Will Never Be the Way They Were»