Singapore startup looks to help banks catch up to mobile

Get.com launches a mobile app that lets users compare and access credit card deals, adding that banks in the country still lack mobile-friendly processes.

Get.com has unveiled an app that lets users compare credit card deals, extending its online service to the mobile platform in Singapore where its founders say banks still lack mobile-friendly processes.

Launched today, GetDeals is touted as a one-stop mobile app that features the biggest range of local credit card deals and allows users to view and access available deals within their location. They can filter credit cards by the card issuers listed in the app and view participating merchants in their vicinity via the inbuilt map view.

Users also can check the terms and conditions associated with a deal via the app, or access the information listed on the bank's website. Other features include a call button to contact the merchants and share information about the deal via messaging or social apps such as WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook.

The GetDeals app is available for download on Android and Apple iOS. Windows Mobile isn't supported because its user base is still too small.

The mobile app is an extension of Get.com's website, which offers a comparison platform for personal financial services--namely, credit cards. The Singapore site was launched in February this year, though, its U.S. counterpart was launched in 2011.

Get.com's Singapore database compares some 130 credit cards. Its U.S. site compares about 600 encompassing most major cards in the country, which has more than 1,000 credit cards. Get.com has successfully signed up 200,000 card applicants for banks in the U.S., getting a cut out of each approved application.

Its founders declined to provide number for its Singapore site, but said it was seeing "encouraging" monthly growth.

Speaking to ZDNet in an interview, Pedro Pla, Get.com's co-founder and CEO, said there were more than 9.7 million credit cards in circulation in Singapore where the average individual each owned six credit cards.

Get.com's founders Pedro Pla and Grace Cheng

While the market here is smaller compared to the U.S., the number of cards per capita is higher at some 130 credit cards for a population of 1.5 million cardholders. In the U.S., there are about 1,000 credit cards for 100 million cardholders.

Get.com's co-founder and Pla's wife, Grace Cheng, said: "It's quite mind boggling when you look at the number of cards here, so we try to simplify the process for consumers."

Singapore banks not mobile-ready

Asked about the difference between the two markets, Pla said the startup was challenged by the lack of responsive banking sites in Singapore, where credit card application forms were too cumbersome for mobile devices.

"They're not really designed for consumers to sign up online or on a mobile device. Many of the banks here don't even have mobile-friendly or adaptive websites," he explained, pointing to how one bank required potential credit card customers to fill up a tedious six-page application form. "That's just not conducive for mobile devices."

In comparison, most banks in the U.S. offered better user experience for mobile signups. "The U.S. has a much lower smartphone adoption compared to Singapore, which has the highest in the world," he noted. "And yet, most of the banking sites here are not mobile-friendly."

Cheng added that some of the banks the company spoke with were keen to tap Get.com's experience in the U.S. market and identify ways, for instance, to improve conversions.

Pla said they were currently in discussions with the banks to determine how the startup could work with them in this aspect, providing IT advice and helping them be mobile-enabled.

"There's a lot of mobile traffic here and if the banks are not prepared for this, the conversion [to actual credit card applicants] ends there," he said, noting that the frequency of users abandoning a credit card application process was 10 times higher on mobile.

He added that new features in the pipeline could see banks and merchants supporting transactions via the GetDeals app, with Get.com generating additional revenue from each transaction.

Already a profitable company from its four-year-old U.S. business, the Singapore startup is currently focused on establishing its brand in here before deciding whether to expand its presence to other Asian markets.

And while other startups may be occupied with efforts to raise funds, Pla said Get.com does not need to chase after venture capital since it is already a profitable company. He did not, however, totally rule out the possibility. "We're not actively looking for VC funding but if the right opportunity comes up...if someone has a partnership that's interesting, then we may consider. They would have to bring something more to the table than just money," he said.