Makoto Fukuhara of Skwile Ltd

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Today, Makoto Fukuhara of Skwile Ltd answers our questions. Makoto will be attending IFGS on 11th April at the Guildhall, London.

Our questions are in bold.

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Who are you and what’s your background?
My career started at IBM, Japan, in 1984. The whole of my time at IBM Japan was spent in the Financial Sales Business Unit, through which I obtained a lot of experience and knowledge about financial applications and businesses.

Later, I was assigned to IBM UK/EMEA in 2000. It was a turning point in my life to look towards the global market. Eighteen months later I was hired by a Norwegian software company, Fast Search & Transfer, as Director of Business Development while I was at IBM UK, which had me experience global business based on Internet technologies. The Norwegian company was later acquired by Microsoft. I was then hired by JRI, a group company of SMBC (Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation), and assigned to JRI-Europe (London-based), as President in 2008. JRI Europe provides IT services to global Japanese companies as well as SMBC Europe. 5 years later, I decided to quit my role in that company because I found more exciting opportunities, where my knowledge and experience would be made good use. At that time, I had never heard the term, “FinTech” but I understood the meaning of it as being the idea of a disruptive approach to the financial market. Finally, I established Skwile in January 2014, based on my financial and IT based knowledge.

Makoto Fukuhara of Skwile Ltd

Makoto Fukuhara of Skwile Ltd

After establishing the Company, three people have followed me from my previous employer.  We all have IT-based backgrounds and much expertise in financial applications with treasury management, cash flow management, risk management, etc.

What is your job title and what are your general responsibilities?
My job title is Managing Director and I am mainly responsible for decision making, corporate strategy and fundraising.

Can you give us an overview of your business?
There are two types of application platforms: 1] CaFE (Cash Flow Engine) which helps SMEs make their cash flow transparent and 2) FundlinQ, which has features to bridge links between SMEs and Lenders for fundraising on CaFE but we are still on the way to implementing this. CaFE was launched in mid February. When cash demands are identified through CaFE, it will back SMEs up to explain their credit conditions simply. CaFE provides necessary information via a simple interface to Lenders who are then able to start the assessment of their credit information quickly. It will mitigate their risks and reduce both the cost and time for assessment. It is a kind of real-time monitoring platform on cash conditions.

Tell us how you are funded.
We have so far raised £582K, which was mainly made by me and a friend of mine. There’re two additional personal investors whose share is small. In addition to that, we have got agreements from a Japanese listed company, Miroku Jyoho Service Co., Ltd., and three personal investors. That will in total give us another £300K on the current capital. Our capital will be £882 soon.

Why did you start the company? To solve what problems?
I have found a unique opportunity for features of a treasury management application to be used by all enterprises that will identify a variety of financial opportunities, as well as credit conditions, but treasury management applications cover a niche market, dominated by large software companies like Oracle, SAP, etc. A pricing model of its’ license is quite expensive. In addition it is too hard for SMEs to learn how to use it, even they don’t manage their cash flow well. Our knowledge that our business model is based on, consists of treasury management, cash flow management and credit risk management. Large Enterprises can afford to purchase expensive licensed software, but SMEs can’t afford to do it. On the other hand Alternative Finance Providers don’t have any solutions which enable them to communicate with their clients in the way BANKS are doing. There are huge gaps existing between SMEs and Alternative Finance Providers, while loan requests submitted by SMEs are getting rejected by BANKS. Our platform will take those gaps away from the SME finance market. SMEs want to concentrate on doing their jobs that produce turnover but have to watch out cash conditions. Most of them don’t know the exact meaning of the difference between profit and cash. It is hard for them to make their loan applications satisfy Lenders expectations. Our product helps them grow their businesses through making SME Finance network effective.

The Skwile website

The Skwile website

Who are your target customers? What’s your revenue model?
Our users are SMEs and the clients who pay us are Alternative Finance Providers. Cash demands identified by our platform, will be sent to Lenders when SMEs click the loan request button (FundlinQ). It will enable Lenders to make a decision on the loan quickly and monitor cash conditions over a period. That model requires a one-off fee when a deal is done and a subscription fee when the monitoring is done.

If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you change in the banking and/or FinTech sector?
If our platform is working like a google search engine on the Internet, it will change the exiting game in SME finance. The usage of it to search for something by keywords on the Internet is free, but their main revenue stream is advertising via banners or ad links. It is great if we can do it in the market.

What phone are you carrying and why?
I have been using the iPhone from the very first model of it. I love it. All I need is in it.

Where do you get your industry news from?
Google search engine and google news lead me to many news sources as well as key contents.

Can you list anyone you rate from the FinTech sector that we should be following on Twitter?
Eileen Burbidge, Chris Gledhill.

Can you suggest the name of an Angel Investor or VC that might be interested in being profiled?
Taz Hossain.

What’s the best FinTech product or service you’ve seen recently?
I’m not sure if this is a product, but I love user interface of Syndicate Room (Crowdfunding) and CrowdCube.

Finally, let’s talk predictions. What trends do you think are going to define the next few years in the FinTech sector?
Matching or search engine types of business that identify the best options to invest may be required.

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Our thanks to Makoto for his answers today. You can find out more information about Skwile on their website, twitter and facebook.

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