Collecting payments happens to be one of the hardest challenges in the business world. You have to make sure that your business gets paid on time, every single time to avoid any disruptions and improve your cash flow. Zac Liew and Steve Kucia, Founders of Curlec, came up with a solution by building technology on top of the Direct Debit bank-to-bank infrastructure to create a smarter and easier way for businesses to collect recurring payments. With Curlec, business owners can now have more time to focus on growing their business further, wihthout worrying about their payments and finances.
Faces of ASEAN SMEs team (F), got the chance to talk to one of Curlec founders, Zac Liew, and here is his inspiring business journey:
Zac Liew entered the path of law but then, he found his passion and success in the fintech industry. He is now changing the payment system in Malaysia (and soon the whole Southeast Asia region) by building a technology on top of direct debit bank-to-bank infrastructure, through his business – Curlec. Business owners can now collect payments in an automated, faster, and easier way. "You have to be incredibly persistent, humble and constantly willing to put yourselves in uncomfortable positions so that they can eventually become comfortable."
Posted by Faces Behind ASEAN SMEs on Tuesday, February 18, 2020
F: Why did you start Curlec?
Z: Looking at it from a business perspective, we chose to start Curlec because we saw a big problem that a lot of businesses face here in Malaysia where collecting payments and having control over your cash flow was a big issue for many SME businesses. And as such, we wanted to address that.
Collecting payment is difficult due to a number of reasons. One of the reasons is because the traditional methods that exist are not practically good for collecting payments. Push payments such as cash, bank transfer, or cheque transactions are not really good for businesses because you are relying on your customers to initiate these payments to you. Alternatively, you have to rely on credit card processing which is very expensive for merchants.
And of course, on a more personal level, having the opportunity to build something from the ground up was part of the reason why I wanted to start Curlec.
Curlec is a FinTech company in Malaysia that makes it easy for businesses of all shapes and sizes to collect recurring payments and take control of that cash flow. We do this by building technology on top of the Direct Debit bank-to-bank infrastructure which is a much more affordable and accessible for businesses in Malaysia to collect recurring payments.
F: What was your job before starting Curlec?
Z: I studied law in the UK, and I even have professional training to be a lawyer. I took law because it is a good general degree, and my dad is a lawyer. But I always wanted to do something entrepreneurial and I’ve always had a taste for technology. Following that, I worked in several Tech companies and I also worked at Barclays Bank in the UK before moving back to Malaysia to start this business. I grew up with entrepreneurial parents. For me, if I do want to start my own thing, moving into technology would be the way to do so.
I’ve always wanted to go back to Malaysia because this is where I feel at home. On top of that, you see things changing so quickly in this part of the world. The countries in our region are rapidly moving and this is the kind of excitement that I want to be part of.
F: What got you interested in the payment system?
Z: I’ve worked in both technology and financial companies and the natural step was, therefore, to move into the FinTech industry. Having the experience of living in the UK, which is a pioneer in the FinTech world and also one of the world’s financial services capitals, I’ve seen the growth of some innovations going on there. When I came back to this part of the world, you can see that we are definitely a few years behind. That is why I would like to address the pain points here, specifically this particular payment system.
F: What is the impact of your company in your community and to your customers?
Z: We are the first company to implement this system in Malaysia. A lot of businesses love our service because we provide a solution so they can handle payments in an automated way. They found our payment system more affordable as well. Our customers also shared with us that they don’t have to worry much about payments, and they can now make themselves more available to more customers. We are slowly changing the infrastructure of payments in Malaysia. However, because it’s a new payment system, it requires us to educate and help our customers to adapt. It’s an education process that is on-going. Fortunately, the people of Malaysia are becoming more aware and open to new things.
F: What legacy do you want to leave behind?
Z: In the long run, our main goal is to really pave the way for recurring bank-to-bank payments in ASEAN. We want businesses to have the ability to collect payments as easy as possible and really become a pioneer in the region in this space.
F: What is your advice to those who also want to start their own business?
Z: My first piece of advice for anyone wanting to start their own business is that it’s not for everyone. There are a lot of ups and downs, and depending on that person’s personality it may not be suited for them. If you really do want to start your own business, then my advice would be that you have to be incredibly persistent, humble and constantly willing to put yourselves in uncomfortable positions so that they can eventually become comfortable.