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SC Ventures launches retail banking fintech start-up
Dubai-based Appro offers digital onboarding platform that reduces processing time to just three minutes
The Asset 3 Aug 2022

SC Ventures, Standard Chartered’s innovation and fintech investment arm, has announced the launch of Appro. The Dubai-based fintech start-up offers a solution that reduces the time taken to complete the application processes for retail banking products – such as credit cards and personal loans – from several hours to just three minutes.

The bank-agnostic platform simplifies the application and onboarding process for customers, requiring them to complete just a single application per product. After capturing the required background information and preferences from each customer via their application, these data points are shared securely with all participating banks, allowing them to qualify customers and, in turn, recommend their most relevant products for each customer.

The platform then collates the best product offerings for each customer and ranks them using a unique algorithm based on the customer’s indicated preferences, enabling an easier as well as more informed and intelligent decision-making process.

At the same time, the participating banks receive the pre-processed applications for each qualified customer, which already include the outcomes of all necessary bank onboarding activities, such as KYC (know your customer), customer due diligence, credit-worthiness assessments and fraud checks.

The idea for Appro came from Iftekhar Salim, Tarek Osman and Antofelix Rajan, who, as retail bankers at Standard Chartered, understood the pain points customers often experienced during the lengthy and cumbersome onboarding process for retail banking products in the United Arab Emirates.

The fintech was then incubated at SC Ventures, with early-stage investment on three occasions.

“Our goal is to bridge the gap between customers looking to find the best deals in town and banks’ concerted efforts to be positioned as a superior service provider,” says Appro chief executive officer Iftekhar Salim. “When we developed our first solution to this end as part of an internal retail banking challenge facilitated by SC Ventures in 2019, we managed to reduce turnaround time for mortgage pre-approval letter issuance from six days to a mere 45 minutes.

“We saw our mortgage booking volume jump significantly and this really validated the market appetite we had only surmised up to this point. It drove us to see what else we could build to better serve both customers’ and banks’ needs in the retail banking space.”

Appro’s platform launches in the UAE with applications for credit cards and personal loans, and looks to expand its offerings to include mortgage loans and car loans, as well as current and saving accounts and wealth management products in 2023.

It will also introduce the option for banks to instantly process their own self-generated leads by embedding Appro into their existing websites and/or applications. The fintech plans to scale across the wider Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), followed by markets in the Asia-Pacific, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia, and India.

“What started as an idea in 2020 and took just over a year to develop is now ready to hit the market with four participating banks,” says Mohamed Abdel Razek, a member of the board of directors at Appro and chief technology and operations officer, Africa and the Middle East, at Standard Chartered.

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