At Neat, our mission is to enable the entrepreneur economy. We’re building out financial services for global entrepreneurs, starting out with multi-currency business accounts that can be opened online.
2019 has been a huge year for us. We continued expanding our customer base, acquired 4 regulatory licences, doubled our team size again and opened two new offices, to name just a few things!
Before we dive into the new year, we wanted to take some time to share bits and pieces of our journey this year with you: our proudest moments, lessons learned, as well as a sneak peek at what’s in store in 2020.
Our Biggest Milestones of 2019
The Neat Business Account now supports USD, GBP, and EUR in addition to HKD!
Our customers are ambitious entrepreneurs who are growing global businesses. Many have customers all over the world and work with partners or suppliers in different countries. That’s why when we launched our business accounts last year, one of the top-requested features was a multi-currency solution.
This year we were thrilled to roll out GBP and EUR accounts, followed shortly by USD accounts, in response to user feedback. We have plans to add many more currencies to further support our customers and their growth.
We became a directly regulated company.
This year, one of our biggest priorities has become getting directly regulated. As we continue to grow, having our own licenses gives us the platform to be self-reliant and build better financial services for businesses like yours.
In 2019 alone, we received a Money Lender’s Licence, a Money Service Operators Licence and TCSP Licence in Hong Kong, as well as an EMD agent approval in the UK.
To help guide us in our journey to global regulation, we’ve also started working with Bovill, a financial services regulatory consultancy that specialises in scaling FinTechs like ours. What’s more, we hired a Chief Compliance Officer as well as created a Compliance And Risk committee as part of our Board, chaired by a very senior individual to help steer our fast growing team.
In 2020, we’re going to continue pursuing relevant licences around the world that will help us build better services for our customers.
We opened our first two offices outside of Hong Kong!
Neat started in Hong Kong in 2015. Our first office was at Cyberport, the government-backed business park that is home to a number of early-stage FinTech startups. Then in 2018 we graduated into our own space.
2019 was the year that we grew to a stage where it made sense to officially expand physically outside of Hong Kong. In May, we launched an office in Shenzhen, and then opened an office in London in November (stay tuned for our official launch in January!).
We’re excited to grow our network and presence in China and Western Europe, to serve SMEs and startups who trade across these regions.
We launched a community meetup series to connect with our network of customers
The #NeatCommunity Meetup series was created with the purpose of connecting the Neat user community, as well as other like-minded entrepreneurs in Hong Kong's vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem. At these events, we bring on stage industry experts and community leaders, as well as entrepreneurs to share their insights and success stories.
We’re not cold and faceless like most banks – we care about meeting our customers, hearing their feedback on the product, and supporting their goals and ambitions. This community series has allowed us to bring together our entrepreneurial customer base and the greater community in Hong Kong.
We’ve since had four very successful community events, and even hosted our first one in Bangkok in November!
We launched a new brand that reflects our growing mission
This year, we unveiled our new brand, along with a revamped website. It was important for us that the Neat brand fully represented outwardly what drove us internally, as well as our long-term vision: enabling the entrepreneur economy.
Forgoing our “tech-y blue” we adopted softer and lighter colours: peach, sky blue, mint green, and a soft yellow. Before, our website imagery was all about our product – our sleek dashboard, our Neat Mastercards and the cutting-edge technology used on our app. Today, however, we’ve shifted our focus to feature predominantly people, including the friendly faces of our customers and team.
If you’d like to know more about our rebrand, we wrote a blog post on the story behind it!
At Neat, we want to give the world something exciting and purposeful. We also recognise that innovation and change hardly ever happen without challenges. Here are some of the lessons we learned this year:
Offering superior customer support has arguably been our main shortcoming this year.
We didn’t plan it well enough to cope with the growth in our customer base. A major priority in 2020 is to improve the level of customer support we offer our customers. That includes a quicker response rate and higher quality in responses.
What are we doing to improve?
- We’re upgrading our support system. When we first started out, we chose a basic customer support system that worked well with our small team and humble customer base. However, as we started truly scaling, this beginner-friendly support system could no longer support the number of queries that were coming in. Ultimately, upgrading our support system is going to allow us to more efficiently organise, prioritise, and answer your enquiries.
- We’ve hired a Customer Success Consultant to help coach our team, find the roadblocks in our processes that are slowing us down, and eliminate them. We’ll continuously be taking a look at what is working and what can be improved.
- We’re actively hiring customer solutions specialists to keep up with our growing customer base.
As we have always maintained, customer support is a key pillar of Neat, and we’re keen to prove it to our customer base.
As a young business, it’s important for us to focus.
At the start of the year, we were actually able to onboard customers from a wider variety of jurisdictions than today. This has in fact been a conscious decision we made in 2019 to hone down the list of jurisdictions we will choose to support at the moment.
We must make sure we avoid spreading ourselves too thin by trying to serve everyone at once.
By narrowing down our accepted jurisdictions we’ve unfortunately had to close some accounts this year. This year we’ve learned the importance of growing at a slower pace to set ourselves up for success as we scale.
Here’s a blog post that sheds some light into why we sometimes reject applications.
Where We’re Headed in 2020
Growing our presence in the U.K. and Western Europe
In Hong Kong, we’re proud to be a key player in the FinTech and entrepreneurial community. Now in the UK and Western Europe, we aim to build a similarly reputable brand and product for entrepreneurs there who are looking to expand their business into Asia.
How are we doing this?
- Growing the team. We will be building out the local business development and marketing teams in our London office.
- International events. We’re planning to host a roadshow across Europe and ending in the U.K. early next year. We’ll be attending the Paris FinTech Forum, the eCommerce Berlin expo, and hosting launch events as well in Paris, Berlin and London to officially introduce Neat to entrepreneurs in Western Europe and the UK!
There’s a lot more in the works that we’re keeping under wraps, so stay tuned!
Our ultimate goal is to make international trade frictionless by not only offering a way for customers to transact, but also by allowing them to make use of a wide ecosystem of tools that automates their business processes (payroll, accounting etc), gives them flexible access to capital, and ultimately allows anyone to run a global operation.
We hope you’ll continue to journey with us as we build financial products that help entrepreneurs take their businesses global.
We'd like to thank all our Neat Network of customers, investors and supporters who have been part of this incredible journey so far.
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