Friday 09 September 2022
‘I think about our family money and business money as God’s money’
Fintech is technology that is used to augment, streamline, and digitise traditional financial services. It can include software, algorithms, and apps for both computer and mobile-based tools, and it can include hardware like mobile wallets, digital banks, or virtual-reality trading platforms.
I’ve always been interested in new technology and keeping up with new trends. In 1999, during the dotcom boom, I created my first website in the UK about Thailand. You could search each area in Thailand and where to go, where to eat. Twenty-one years ago, this was very new thing. The Tourism Authority of Thailand used our website for a few years, and I sold it to them.
In the past six years, blockchain technology, mobile payment, and digital banks have been a trend. Wallet and QR-code payments are quite common in Asia, but not in Europe.
KogoPAY is a Fintech start-up, with a holding company and head office in London, and subsidiary companies in Vilnius, Bangkok, and Dubai. We provide financial services focusing on real-time funds transfer, both domestic and cross-border payments, using innovative technologies such as Blockchain, AI Assistant, and Data Analytics.
We have two products: P2P (peer to peer) and B2B (business to business). We built in QR-code payment function on the mobile app for fiat money first [i.e. ordinary currency], and later we’ll have digital currencies, too. In the future, our customers can make payments instantly using QR codes in UK and Europe and in countries where cards are not widely accepted. Later on this year, we’ll also provide GBP and EUR Ibans accounts for small-to-medium enterprises. Hopefully, one day, we’d use KogoPAY wallet and QR payment everywhere in the UK and Europe and around the globe. I’d like people to be able to use KogoPAY to make donations in churches.
Fintech is a tough business. We need lots of experience in compliance and finance. I believe God prepared me for this journey. I have a Ph.D. in compliance and information systems from the London School of Economics, and I started my first job almost 30 years ago in auditing at Coopers & Lybrand, now PwC. I was a full-time lecturer at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, and taught at LSE and King’s College, London, before becoming a finance director and, later, adviser in internal audit and compliance for global companies.
I don’t see business is just about making money. I was interested in Blockchain technology and wondered how I could use it to give people an easier, friendlier payments system.
Fintechs are rewriting the story of payments and banking in so many ways. With the internet, everything can be done online and from a mobile, all at your fingertips. In future, we won’t need to go to a physical bank, as there’s no need for cash. We’ll use digital money rather than physical money. It’ll take some time, but it’ll happen.
According to the World Bank, 1.7 billion adults worldwide still don’t have a bank account. They may be on a low income, are migrant workers, or have a poor credit history. Not having a bank account creates more problems and exposes people to debt and risky transactions. Some of these individuals are most in need of secure money transfers, such as sending money home to feed their families.
I wanted KogoPAY to be inclusive, and offering an ethical and inclusive cashless ecosystem. We focus on proper compliance systems in place so we make sure that technology will be used in a good way. Now we’re developing our KOGO Metaverse and KOGO Charitable Foundation. We are different from others in fintech space. I always quote Act 20.35: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
I became a Christian in 1999 and I wrote to Nicky Gumbel and asked his advice about money. It makes me smile when I think of all the questions I asked him. He replied to me nicely. I think he advised to give cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9.6-7) and gave me one book.
What I try to do, even now, is to think about our family money and business money as God’s money. I just manage it for him, as I managed the company money as finance director. When the company needed more money, I just told the owner or board members to send some or increase capital. We should think the same way and not worry: just pray and ask God. He will provide. Faith is really what I need. I’m not saying that I’m doing that well, but it’s what I’m trying to do.
I was born in a lovely strong Buddhist upper-middle-class family in Bangkok, the second of four children. I offered food to monks every day with my parents. We loved giving.
We are the hollow men We are the stuffed men. . . THESE words from T. S. Eliot’s famous poem of the 1920s came into my mind as I read about the collapse of the financial firm Greensill Capital, and David Cameron’s position as a lobbyist on its behalf
At university, I joined a Buddhist club to learn more. I studied for my Master’s in auditing in the US, and came to the UK in 1996 for my Ph.D. in information and compliance.
I married a very strong Christian Chinese-Malaysian guy whom I met at LSE. We have two sons, Daniel and Gideon.
My husband, who was just a friend at the time, asked me to attend the Alpha Course at HTB. I didn’t want to go, but didn’t want to say no to friend. I didn’t believe in God at all, but things changed after we went to the Holy Spirit weekend. I felt God’s presence during our prayer led by Nicky Gumbel — like electricity going through my body. At that moment, I gave my life to Christ.
I’ve been Christian for almost 23 years now, still learning every day to trust God and have faith in him. In January last year, my mother died, and I flew to Bangkok for her funeral. Before I left home, I knelt down and prayed to God to be with me and help me. During that time, God told me he would be with me and I shouldn’t worry. He said that he had something else prepared for me, too. I stayed in Bangkok three months. God led me miraculously, and I managed to raise £1 million.
The big difference for me is grace. As a Buddhist, I was taught to do good things in this life to be reborn in the next life with better blessings. Now I don’t need to get something in return for my love. Through Jesus, we are forgiven, and everything is grace.
I studied part-time at Oak Hill, and joined [the missionary society] OMF in Japan in 2012. God gave me 12 years to develop KogoPAY and then become a full-time missionary helping homeless and orphan children. I’ve been doing this part time with my children at some orphanages on a mountain in Thailand.
Thinking of my husband and my sons at challenging times in business makes me happy — and thinking of the orphans I’ve been helping and their smiles; and when I pray and God answers my prayers — not because of the answers, but because God is teaching me to trust in him.
I set my time to pray more to God as a chairman of KogoPAY every Monday morning, between 6 and 7 a.m. I pray to be different — to be light and salt, that people can see him through me.
I’d choose to be locked in a church with my husband and sons. I can’t think of anyone else I’d like to praise God with.
Dr Chauvidul-Aw was talking to Terence Handley MacMath.
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Friday 09 September 2022