We are HK Founders: Simon Loong of WeLab


Simon Loong is Founder and CEO of WeLab. Simon graduated from Stanford Graduate School of Business in Master of Science in Management prior to that he also became a Certified Public Accountant. This year he was awarded CEO of the Year by Capital CEO in 2016 and Silicon Dragon’s Entrepreneur Achievement Award in 2014.

Before founding the FinTech startup specializing in mobile lending, Simon spent 15 years in retail baking divisions in Standard Chartered and more recently, Citibank. He also served as an advisor on a number of professional organizations including Shenzhen Consumer Council, Hong Kong Trade Development Council and Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce

In your own words what does your startup do?

Founded in 2013 in Hong Kong, WeLab is reinventing traditional financial services by creating seamless mobile lending experiences. With its proprietary risk management technology, we effectively analyze unstructured mobile big data within seconds to make credit decisions for individual borrowers.

WeLab operates Wolaidai (我来贷), one of China’s largest mobile lending platforms, and WeLend, Hong Kong’s leading online lending platform. The company also partners with traditional financial institutions, which utilize WeLab’s technology to offer fintech-enabled solutions to their customers. Our investors include CK Hutchison’s TOM Group, Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad, Chinese provincial government fund Guangdong Technology Financial Group, ING Bank and Sequoia Capital.

In 2016, WeLab was named in a KPMG-sponsored report as one of the top 100 fintech companies in the world – #6 in China and #33 globally.

Why did you create your startup?

Efficient access to low cost credit is the fundamental way for us to improve our lives. However, having worked in the banking industry for many years, I also experienced firsthand that the lending industry is rife with many different problems. As a result, it is expensive for many individuals due to poor credit assessment and inefficient incumbents.

For these reasons, I sought to empower our customers with faster, cheaper and more convenient access to financial services. To do so, we created a mobile lending experiences which allows customers to obtain access to credit through a few simple taps on their personal mobile devices.

What was your first victory when doing your startup?

My first victory was acquiring my first 100 customers.

It was absolutely gratifying to know that the product, which we shipped, was something that was desired by the market. These 100 customers also gave us valuable early feedback, paving the way for us to further improve our product and ultimately reach the next 10 million customers.

What are the pros of doing a startup in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong has a world-class business infrastructure, making it easy to open businesses. As a global leader in finance, Hong Kong is also home to many professionals, making it easy to recruit banking and finance talent.

Geographically, Hong Kong also serves as a point of entry into China, home to the largest population in the world. This provides Hong Kong startups with a natural advantage over others if they wish to expand into China.

While the government has mentioned its support for startups numerous times and has created many initiatives to foster new businesses, the startup scene is still lagging behind its peers in the region such as Singapore.

Unlike countries with strong startup culture such as the US and Israel, Hong Kong does not have a steady pipeline of tech talent. This makes recruiting difficult.

What are some of your daily digital habits?

I read New York Times and Bloomberg every day. The 4 apps which I use the most on my iPhone are – WeChat, Whatsapp, Mail and Slack. These messaging and productivity tools allow me to stay in touch with my teams located in four different geographical locations in the world regardless of where I am.

My second digital habit is that I try not to access any of the above between 10pm – 7am so that I get a break from the world!

Where do you see Hong Kong in 2021?

Thriving as one of the premier fintech hubs in the world.

Rapid-Fire Round:

WeLend.hk (of course)

Lonely Boy by Black Keys

Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Toy Story

What is one thing that you would like to pass on to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Live in the future, then build what’s missing – Paul Graham

(Portraiture by Ruby Law Photography)

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