#HardwareMerdeka: Four budding Malaysian startups with a passion for disruption
PrimeKeeper and TrackerHero
PrimeKeeper (Jeremy Chong, Managing Director of PrimeKeeper)
Head to just about any shopping mall in Malaysia, and you will notice that almost all merchants are equipped with the necessary facilities to support some form of electronic payment – be it credit or debit cards, or more modern mobile payment methods such as Samsung Pay.
But what about your friendly neighborhood grocery store? You know, that small, family-run business that has been passed down for generations? Chances are, they would much rather conduct their business in cash to save the cost (and hassle) of investing in a credit card terminal, which is why PrimeKeeper hopes to be able to empower these micro and small enterprises with the convenience of micropayments with new digital wallet platform.
Can you tell us a little bit about PrimeKeeper and the inspiration behind it?
PrimeKeeper is a FinTech company with the aim of creating a digital wallet that people would actually use. Considering that most people in Malaysia are in possession of a bank account, we want to be an aggregator that will allow users to connect their bank account to our platform and make payments from it.
Today, we’re already working with five partner banks, and Cyberjaya is the first place where we want to commercialize our solutions. If things go according to plan, we should be launching in Q4 this year.
Our objective, essentially, is to enable micropayments. You see, despite the multiple payment solutions that we have today, when we talk about electronic payment, the first thing that comes to mind would still be debit and credit cards.
But the thing is, when you head outside of shopping complexes to micro and small enterprises, they are still dealing in cash. That’s why we believe that we need to come up with a product that can encourage micro and small enterprises to adopt electronic payments as well.
This is why we’ve created a platform for them to have money banked in directly to their accounts in real time, removing the need for them to invest in credit card terminals to accept electronic payments. Investing in a credit card terminal requires an upfront payment, and merchants are required to pay a fee to the acquirer bank to maintain these terminals, thus affecting their profit margins. So we need to come up with a product that not only does away with the terminals, but comes with a much lower fee and real-time transactions.
These are the things that we are offering with PrimeKeeper. We hope that we can bring the electronic payment experience to micro and small enterprises through our platform, which actually also benefits end users, as it reduces the reliance on notes and coins.
Have you approached any of these micro and small enterprises?
We have approached several micro and small enterprises around Cyberjaya. We want to make Cyberjaya our first use case because we are part of the Cyberview Living Lab accelerator, and not to mention that Cyberview is also the land owner of CyberJaya.
Were they receptive to PrimeTracker?
A lot of merchants are looking forward to electronic payments because they know that it’s much safer compared to cash. Just imagine, at the end of each business day, these merchants have to count their cash, and if the owners are not around, they have to rely on the manager or supervisor to keep the cash or have it deposited at a bank.
Electronic payments are always safer. Not only does it reduce the possibility of fraud, it’s more efficient as well, since shop owners won’t have to stay back after hours to do tedious accounting work, or go through the hassle of depositing the cash at the bank.
As far as convenience and reliability is concerned, electronic payment brings a greater experience for both sides of the market – the merchants and also consumers, since payments can be made using their smartphones.
What about mobile payment systems like Samsung Pay and Alipay? Do you see them as your competitors?
I think the products that we offer are totally different. For example, making a payment via Samsung Pay is still done using a terminal – something that you can do when heading to a shopping complex, as most retailers are converting their terminals to ones that accept Samsung Pay, which allows you to link your debit and credit card to your Samsung smartphone and use it to make payments.
But you won’t be able to whip out your Samsung smartphone and pay for something at micro merchants such as a family-run sundry shop, because they will still want to accept cash, which is where we come in. We cater to a different market altogether.
What does PrimeKeeper have in store for the future?
Our next plan is to launch our digital wallet by the end of this year in Cyberjaya and Putrajaya. We hope that by the end of next year, all the urban states in Malaysia will be adopting our platform. We’re targeting places like Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, Melaka, Penang, and Johor.
TrackerHero (M. Afiq Hazman, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of TrackerHero)
Let’s say you’re the owner of a security company, and you have a thousand security guards under your watch. How would you know if they are carrying out their duties? Personally checking up on each and every one of them would be impossible, even more so if they are stationed in a completely different region as you are. So, what do you do?
You would enlist the help of TrackerHero – an advanced security and building management platform that encompasses a suite of security guard, visitor management and resident management modules, as well as automated financial management solutions for security companies.
What's the inspiration behind TrackerHero? Can you elaborate on its features and how it works?
Let’s start off with the security industry in Malaysia. As a whole, there are about 800 security firms in the country, and every school, condominium, and commercial building are required to have a security guard stationed on site.
Now, the security companies in Malaysia are structured in such a way that their headquarters are located in Kuala Lumpur, while their place of operations are usually scattered across the country. This means they can be based in Kuala Lumpur, but conduct their operations in a school in Sibu, a mall in Kota Kinabalu, or an airport in Labuan.
Right now, the biggest challenge for security companies is being able to manage their operations in those various locations from Kuala Lumpur. We often hear about problems concerning security guards not assuming their roles, how challenging it can be in managing them, as well as low compliance rates, and the very diverse standards that are being applied across the industry.
So we thought, “You know what? Let’s go in there and try to streamline their operations.” We felt that it could eventually lead to lower operating costs for the security companies, safer communities, and greater accountability for how the whole security industry runs.
We started off by developing and deploying our solutions in collaboration with Strategy Services Sdn Bhd – a mid-sized security firm based in KL with a presence all across Malaysia. We deployed our solutions in four states together with them, and gathered some data to see how our solutions actually helped their operations.
Right now, we’re actually linking up with some of the bigger security firms, including the biggest one in Malaysia – Securiforce Sdn Bhd. We’re looking forward to start deploying our pilot with them in Q4 this year.
How does TrackerHero differentiate itself from other residential and visitor management solutions?
Our solutions are divided into three categories: one that specifically deals with security, one that deals with property management, and lastly one that handles visitor management.
We tried to cover all three with TrackerHero, but realized that it would be too big of a system to stomach through in terms of deployment and pricing. So we decided to allocate them to another one of our startups, which we will be announcing in the near future.
Do you deal with security firms directly or do you approach the management of condominiums and residential areas instead?
We actually prefer to approach security firms directly, because they cater to our end-users and commercial targets. For building managements and condos, we felt that it would require a much longer time period for us to meet our deployment strategy, because we would have to approach them one by one.
When you approach security firms, you have access to their entire clientele. If our solutions are able to help their operations, then it would make more sense for us to liaise with them, rather than going to their respective clients.
Are there any challenges or concerns that you’ve faced or are currently facing while bringing TrackerHero to market?
In our pitch we’ve always said that the security industry is a dinosaur industry. Our end-users consist of a good mix of security guards who were formerly from the police and military force, as well as Nepalese guards.
We spent countless hours trying to teach them how to use our solutions just so that we are able to obtain meaningful data out of it, and actually help the security operations. In the end, we had to resort to simplifying our entire platform multiple times. Yeah, that was one of the more exciting challenges that we had.
Another challenge that we faced was convincing the security firm CEOs, who are very resistant to change, to give our solutions a shot. So when we meet them, we have to really put ourselves out there – we have to table out how we can actually help their entire operations.
But over time, the acceptance rate is really good – these security firms indirectly become industry mentors to us, and end up becoming a proponent for our expansion.
Securiforce is actually touching base with us, saying that if we have a successful pilot, they can help deploy it in neighboring markets, such as Indonesia and also the Middle East, where they have a stronger network and presence.
What sort of data do you gather from these security guards?
Their attendance, reports about break-ins, emergencies or any other incidents, as well as reports about their perimeter rounds.
So you’re basically digitizing the entire operations of these security firms?
Yes, but above all that, we’re trying to strengthen the technology offering of these security firms by combining graphical analytics to determine the location of the guards, or using facial recognition as a way for the guards to mark their attendance. With regards to perimeter protection, we have a whole suite of technologies that can be implemented in the industry when its cost of adoption goes down.
For now, the current intention is to deploy the standard version of TrackerHero, which will also encompass the backend of the security operations, right down to their payroll system. So it’s actually an end-to-end operations suite for the security firm itself.
What I like to tell the security firm heads is that it doesn’t matter whether they are in Hawaii, Russia, or Penang – they can immediately know the state of their entire ground operations through their notebook or tablet, which is something that they previously couldn’t do.