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Greening the fintech world

Lincoln Yin, CEO of fintech start-up RootAnt aims to make financing solutions for SMEs more inclusive, sustainable and accessible.

For as long as he can remember, Lincoln Yin, 29, has been fascinated by cultures that embrace minimalism. In particular, the Japanese philosophy of ikigai that roughly translates to “reason for being” and is a key source of his inspiration.

“The Japanese concept of simplicity is different. You will discover that it is imbued with meaning and is not just about being minimalistic,” Yin says. In his quest to discover his ikigai, he has embarked on various meditation practices and retreats to look within himself.

For the CEO of Singapore-based fintech start-up RootAnt, this lifelong journey of self-discovery directed him to his calling. “I love finance and technology but what keeps me going is the fact that the work I do is meaningful and makes an impact,” he says.

RootAnt, which he founded in 2013, is a banking-as-a-service start-up that connects banks, financial institutions and enterprises with innovative practices – such as supply chain financing – that were previously not widely adopted.

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“The financing services we offer help to make the value chain, the economy and society more sustainable and inclusive. What is meaningful to me is the number of SMEs we can enable to gain movable assets based on supply chain finance in an easier, cheaper and faster way,” says Yin.

In line with his appreciation for minimalism, RootAnt and Banco – the company’s first digital transaction banking neobank that offers trade and supply chain finance, foreign exchange and payments as well as business bank accounts – are also designed to be easy to understand and use.

“The platform is simple and easy to use even though the finance model is complicated. For every country that we launch in, we try our best to localise the platform so it can be as widely adopted as possible,” he adds.

RootAnt is currently available in seven markets, including China, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia. Last October, it secured almost US$1.5 million (S$1.98 million) in a seed funding round led by Shanghai- based early-stage venture firm Linear Capital. RootAnt will be using these funds to expand into Singapore, Japan and the rest of South-east Asia.

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In Singapore, Yin is focusing on improving the accessibility of green finance, like bonds and loans, among smaller businesses via RootAnt’s platform, which is in line with the country’s Green Plan 2030.

“Till now, green bonds have been a mostly exclusive financing tool for larger companies. Incorporating sustainable finance into deep-tier supply chain finance on a platform that makes it easier for smaller businesses to access financing or early payment based on the credibility of large anchor buyers will allow more SME companies to embrace sustainability,” he explains.

Yin’s passion for using technology to streamline various aspects of life spills into his own life. A prolific traveller pre-pandemic, the avid foodie says he reads reviews on Google maps instead of relying on guidebooks to uncover interesting restaurants. When he launches the app, it will be filled with pin drops at F&B establishments he has visited. He sees it as a virtual diary of sorts.

And when it is finally safe to travel, Yin, who has a penchant for off-the-beaten- track destinations such as Bangladesh and Israel, says, “I can’t wait to go somewhere interesting and uncommon and add more pins to my maps.”

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