Ryan Gwee, CEO of Aleta Planet, on staying afloat and moving forward amidst the unpredictability

Jun 23, 2020
The new normal for fintech in a digital age, post COVID-19. In 2014, a team of professionals with strong business and technology expertise within the banking, finance and payment industries founded Aleta Planet in Singapore. Their aim was to provide end-to-end technology solutions for financial institutions and corporates.

“Aleta Planet focuses on a client-specific, solutions-oriented approach and has successfully delivered highly regulated, Monetary Authority of Singapore–licensed, and secured leading- edge financial technology solutions to a diversified portfolio of clients,” says Mr. Ryan Gwee, its founder and CEO.

Aleta Planet operates MoneyExpress, an online remittance service that allows people to remit money from their homes to China and many other places worldwide. “This service is particularly helpful during the COVID-19 outbreak to residents in Singapore who need to remit funds and who do not want to visit a bank or a remittance house,” remarks Mr. Gwee.

As a certified principal member of UnionPay International, Aleta Planet enables merchants to accept over seven billion UnionPay cards issued globally. Additionally, the company issues UnionPay International virtual commercial debit accounts to both corporates and retail consumers.

“Account holders through our proprietary in-app virtual debit facility can use it to pay any of the 41 million merchants that accept UnionPay in over 177 countries; they can also use UnionPay International’s bespoke cross-border B2B platform to accept and make payments into China as well as the wider global UnionPay network.”

A Solutions Pioneer

“Since our inception, we have been focused on cross-border B2B payments for corporates and institutions that trade with China,” Mr. Gwee explains. As a Chinacentric digital payment facilitator, Aleta Planet has worked with partners in UnionPay, China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange, and China-domiciled banks to design and implement a bespoke platform to facilitate its online solutions.

“Being the pioneer of UnionPay cross-border B2B solutions and the first issuer of offshore-issued UnionPay accounts, it is quite difficult to put a value on our business.”

The bulk of Aleta Planet’s revenue still comes from its B2B business. However, other revenues are drawn from consumer retail payment acceptance, remittance, account issuance and white label solutions.

Today, Aleta Planet counts SIA’s KrisShop, TADA, and HDC Shilla Duty Free Ltd among its corporate customers. Aside from being a principal member of UnionPay international, Aleta Planet is now a global acquirer for Discover, Diners Club, JCB, BC Card and Elo, Mr. Gwee shares.

“Furthermore, we are WeChat Pay enabled. With these comprehensive offerings, we are able to accelerate our international network expansion by leveraging Aleta Planet’s omnichannel capabilities and global reach.”

A Positive Response

MoneyExpress was launched in Singapore only in January 2020. Although the service is relatively new, the response has been very positive, according to Mr. Gwee.

“We recently worked with several homegrown retail remittance businesses to execute payments to individuals in China. We plan to offer this digital service to money remittance companies as well as corporations that hire Chinese nationals.”

The strong interest in MoneyExpress, he underlines, is due to numerous benefits it delivers to customers. Mr. Gwee is a veteran Singaporean banker with nearly two decades of financial sector experience at one of the top British global banks. He spent close to half of those years focused on expanding Standard Chartered’s private banking business in China, even serving as managing director of its private banking for China.

He subsequently built a network among the UHNW investors community in Asia for his delivery of strategic investment banking solutions through collaboration with partners in equity capital markets, debt capital markets, leveraged finance, and private equity.

The remittance industry may seem to be new territory for Mr. Gwee, but he displays a deep understanding of how it works and the fundamental similarity it has with other financial services.

“The remittance industry has experienced significant growth over the past decade and looks set for further growth in the years ahead,” he observes. In particular, Aleta Planet recognizes that a significant group of nearly 400,000 Chinese nationals in Singapore often face difficulties in remittance. “

MoneyExpress will enable them to utilize our remittance service anytime, anywhere to remit funds — in just 60 seconds — to their families and friends in China.” Growth Plans Mr. Gwee reveals that Aleta Planet will continue to expand its presence and product offerings globally.

“We are currently in five markets — Singapore, Hong Kong SAR, Australia, Cambodia and Dubai. There are plans to open four more offices in the next two years in South Korea, Malaysia and France, as well as Georgia — the gateway to the Caucasus region.”

He adds that fintech services will remain Aleta Planet’s core focus going forward. “Our vision is to make this planet feel more connected and more like a little place by facilitating the global marketplace through our simple, secured and seamless payment system.”

As a market leader in UnionPay International’s cross-border B2B, Aleta Planet will continue to expand its network to key trading partners of China, such as the Philippines, South Korea, the U.K., Malaysia and Georgia.


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