Presenting our portfolio: MyMy

Dec 09, 2020
SeedSpace Team

From selling everything he owned, sleeping on floors to raising the biggest seed round in Malaysian history. It has been a rollercoaster few years for MyMy CEO & Co Founder Joe McGuire, as he he strives to build the world’s first Sharia-compliant digital bank.

Most of Joe McGuire’s career was spent working on trading floors in banks. His last banking role was for the Commonwealth Bank, where he was the State Manager for Vic/Tas for the Transaction Banking Division. At the time, McGuire (29) was the youngest state manager for CBA to have that role.

“Life was going great, looking back it was probably the most enjoyable job I have ever had, much less stress than the startups business. There, I also learned the realities of leadership, which you can’t find in a book,” he says.

During his time at the Commonwealth Bank, McGuire met a group of people who were building a cross border payments company. That meeting turned out to be extremely fruitful, as McGuire began helping the group set up bank accounts, and providing some advice on how the cross-border market worked. Eventually, the group poached him to become the global head of sales and partnerships — that company, Airwallex, is now known as Hong Kong’s first unicorn and today is worth USD$4 billion.

In the 14 months McGuire worked at Airwallex, he helped build the foundations of the company, growing from ten to over 100 employees, with licenses and jurisdictions all over the world.

“That was always a stepping stone to building my own business. I wanted to learn the realities of building a business in fintech. You don’t leave a really high paying job with a really good balance of lifestyle and a good trajectory in the business, to go and work for someone else, getting paid a lot less, without an end goal,” McGuire laughs.

In 2017, McGuire discovered a World Bank report that said in Southeast Asia there were 500 million people that had a phone but had never had a bank account. “I became obsessed with how to solve this problem and how I could bring financial inclusion to the region. Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will become the engine of the global economy over the next 30 years — I knew I had to get in there.”

McGuire soon settled on Malaysia. “It’s a really interesting market, because there are 1.4 debit cards per person, so lots of people have a bank account, but when we started out, only 8% of transactions were digital. I realised we could build a solution that meant people could actually use the cards they already had in their pockets.”

Moving to Malaysia is one of the most difficult decisions he has had to make. McGuire did not know a single person and had to build everything from the ground up. He had to find the right business partners, and dive deeply into the culture of the country.

“I was completely captivated with this idea of building a digital bank and solving the financial literacy and inclusion challenges that exist in the ASEAN Region. I sold everything I owned to follow that dream — my apartment, my car, and every cent in my bank account went into it.” — Joe McGuire

It all hasn’t been smooth sailing. “There’s been nearly a year of couch surfing when we’ve been waiting on funding and regulatory approvals!” he recounts. “Having nowhere to live is scary, but it’s taught me a lot about persistence and resilience. You can’t have a plan B, you have to be all in. Because if you have a plan B, you will always take it.” said McGuire

MyMy App. Credit - MyMy

While 2020 has been challenging, COVID has played into MyMy’s hands in many ways. Malaysians, like people around the world, accelerated their use of digital banking products, and with only roughly ten of Malaysia’s 27 banks having any digital presence, aspiring neobanks like MyMy are well ahead of the curve.

McGuire sees 2020 onwards as the ‘Blockbuster moment’ for banks — of the 26,000 banks around the world, he thinks there will be only a few thousand left by 2030. And of course he wants MyMy to be one of them.

“We are well positioned. We have the right management team; a world-class team of engineers; a world-class team of local experts that understand the market; a chairman who’s incredibly, highly regarded in the financial services sector in Malaysia who also sits on the board of the biggest Islamic banks in the world. “

MyMy is the only digital bank that has built its technology from scratch in house in the region. Behind the scenes, they are acquiring a number of licenses in different jurisdictions, which will be announced towards the end of the year. “We aspire to become the world’s first Sharia-compliant digital bank and grow from there,” McGuire says. “There have been tough times but it’s definitely all been worth it — and the best is yet to come.”-