Revolutionising digital banking with virtual accounts

Aleta Planet seamlessly integrates simplicity, security, and dynamism in its proprietary technology solutions. Chairman and CEO Ryan Gwee shares insights that bridge the China-UAE payments gap

By Ishtiaq Mehkri

Published: Sun 18 Apr 2021, 1:21 PM

Last updated: Sun 18 Apr 2021, 3:40 PM

Tell us about yourself and your professional journey.

I was a banker with 20 years of experience in the financial sector in one of the top five British global banks and I have spent a decade expanding the private banking business in China. I was one of the stream leaders in the integration of the American Express Banks where I had a chance to look in-depth into redefining banking processes, operational processes as well as banking systems.

In my years of experience that came from expanding banking businesses in China as well as being present when China opened its market and seeing the demand for sophisticated goods and services, which caused an avalanche of imports into the country, I saw opportunities in what others saw as formidable hurdles. We saw UnionPay International in its infancy and the immense potential in helping it establish its unique platforms and technologies in all the regions outside China.

I also would like to take this opportunity to talk about our people - when I left banking to start this I was very privileged to have very senior people from banking, tech, and finance join me on this journey to start Aleta Planet to bridge this gap together and take all the good business solutions and platforms from UnionPay International and implement the technologies outside of China. Today, we have been a certified UnionPay Principal Member since 2018.

Tell us about Aleta Planet's expertise.

As the Covid-19 pandemic disrupts nearly every aspect of life, many businesses are turning to digital technology to help them weather the crisis and prepare for new ways of operating and serving customers once we reach the other side. In the middle of a pandemic that is worse than SARS, there is no frame of reference for us to know what the new normal is going to be, and with that comes uncertainty.

Today, just like what others may see as formidable hurdles, we see opportunities for the future. In Singapore, we have revolutionised the whole digital banking scene - by launching the first of its kind, all-in-one account that gives you all the capabilities of both issuing and acquiring.

With this, we want to adapt to the constant changes in the emerging markets and change the customer experience as opposed to traditional banking - introducing a whole new way of marketing and bringing in new clients, making transfers and transactions in real-time using Virtual Accounts - 24 hours a day, seven days a week, wherever you are.

Aleta Planet has also designed the Virtual Accounts to be extremely cost-efficient in the implementation of our system because all the touchpoints have disappeared. We want to be able to digitalise and virtualise traditional processes through technology, which we have done with our Virtual Accounts and we are able to help financial institutions and banks speed up their client acquisition channels so that they can quickly reach more people during these difficult times where physical traffic comes few and far between. 

Aleta Planet is the exclusive, certified principal member and third party payment specialist to UnionPay's technology. We can customise and implement solutions to fit your institution regardless of the business scale. With the success of its financial solutions in the corporate sector, Aleta Planet continues to build on this success by expanding its capacity and capabilities into all regions outside China.

What is your competitive edge?

We are China-centric experts. That alone significantly sets us apart from our competitors. We have already implemented our system and collaborated with other institutions, giving us ample experience and advantage over our competitors - because we are not a new start-up, we have done it before and with the success and experience garnered in Singapore, which is highly regulated, we are then able to design and execute to the UAE market.

Aleta Planet is a licensed institution that does more than provide a payment solution. We customise solutions to help customers penetrate the China market in the shortest time frame, owning our own source code, therefore, making it easy for us to design and customise solutions for all clients and businesses.

Being the China know-how, Aleta Planet is a pioneer in launching the cross border B2B with UnionPay launching Asia's first Virtual Account and seamlessly bridge this gap -being the first mover to issue UnionPay virtual commercial accounts outside China.

What are the opportunities that you see for the Middle East?

We know for sure that the Middle East and the UAE are future destinations for the emerging Chinese and obviously, there will be a lot of pent-up demand for travel after the Covid-19 period. As the bilateral trade between China and the UAE has seen significant volume - reaching $34.7 billion in the first nine months of 2019, up six per cent, according to a top Chinese diplomat, we can help banks and many other financial institutions of any size issue accounts and change the methods of client acquisition.

Aleta Planet already has a branch office in Dubai Internet City, just a stone's throw from our partner UnionPay International. The UAE has been one of the top priorities in our business plans and I am confident in this market.

What is your vision and growth plans over the next few years?

The UAE and the Middle East have emerged as key players in China's initiative - with the new Belt and Road Initiative, where attempts are being made to link China by both sea and land markets in Asia and Europe through investments, its expansion proves that there are only growing opportunities for China in the UAE - this is just the beginning of a growing empire of the Arab-Chinese collaboration to import through the new Silk Road.

With Dubai's excellent infrastructure, it will be a great showcase for Aleta Planet to springboard ourselves from the UAE to the Middle East, and using Dubai as the regional headquarters, springboard our expansions to Europe to bridge and be a part of the collaboration at the forefront of the next revolution that will shape the whole century.

Lastly, any milestone achievements or success stories that you would like to highlight?

The last 23 years of my career have been exciting. I was fortunate enough to have been exposed to many markets through leadership positions - including heading a private bank in China at the age of 33.

Today, 10 years after my banking stint, I am immensely proud to say that my team and I have successfully created and launched a China-centric fintech with the world's largest card association providing solutions to trade with China.

With this platform, I am proud that we can see collaborations with a few banks to implement our technology on their platforms and we are privileged to be able to partner with UnionPay on this journey, being the pioneers in the B2B cross-border platform and launching the first Virtual Account in Asia.

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