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Start-up of the Week: Meet Orpheus, Malaysia’s ‘Social Impact Sharia Compliant’ venture

IFM_Orpheus
Orpheus believes in its clients taking back control of their cash flow management

In today’s International Finance ‘Start-up of the Week’, we will talk about Malaysia-based Orpheus Capital, which, established in 2020, calls itself a “Social Impact Sharia Compliant FinTech Start-up For The Underserved,” bringing its expertise in fields like cash management, process improvement, B2B lending, B2B solutions, alternative lending and digital lending.

“We are here to improve your cash flow. We provide sharia-compliant financing that allows SMEs and working individuals to receive their funding safely and quickly. Our goal is to ensure small businesses and working individuals have swift access to cash.

Delayed financing can come at a heavy expense, and we strive to solve this universal problem by providing instant financing that will improve you and your business’ cash flow management,” the venture stated further.

Knowing The Vision & Mission

Orpheus’ goal is to become the pioneer in providing fast, secure and simple financial assistance via its digital platform to nurture and encourage economic growth for underserved and unserved communities. The venture is eyeing to position itself as a significant player in providing Sharia-compliant financial solutions for working individuals and SMEs markets in Malaysia and the other key Islamic financial markets.

Orpheus believes in its clients taking back control of their cash flow management.

“We understand that waiting for payments holds your business back and we strongly disagree that is the way to go about in this competitive economy. We also empathise with those who need personal financing in this pandemic economic climate when their salary is insufficient for their personal necessities,” the venture remarked further.

Orpheus also has the esteemed Malaysia Digital (MD) Status from the Ministry of Multimedia & Communication, a milestone which has catapulted the venture into the “Chosen Group,” entrusted with the opportunity of contributing to the progression of Malaysia’s digital economy.

“As one of the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation’s top 30 Islamic Digital Economy companies, we aim to continue to drive digital innovations within the industry to new heights and bring operational efficiency to our clients and consumers,” Orpheus remarked further.

The Breakthrough Products

Orpheus provides flexible yet Sharia-compliant financing (from the application process through to the disbursement of payment) through a fully digital line of financing. It helps its borrowers to overcome the financial obstacles within Malaysian society, apart from delivering insight and assistance to the individuals/businesses often “turned away by traditional financial institutions.”

Since 2020, Orpheus has been outperforming traditional financial institutions through three ‘S’: Secure (helping its clients to conduct transactions with peace of mind, while utilising the venture’s reliable and safe digital systems), Swift (helping individuals/businesses to receive their financing within 48 hours of filing the applications) and Simple (financing businesses in just a few clicks).

Since 2021, Orpheus has helped the Malaysian SME sector to generate new income worth 26 million Malaysian Ringgit, apart from creating 624 new jobs in the domain.

The venture uses “Unique Algorithm Systems” to help its clients achieve better credit scores for quicker financing approval, followed by processes namely “Reporting and Analysis Modules (regularly reflecting on its practices in order to improve on the customer services front), “Fraud Mitigation System” (eliminating risks of losses and frauds for the clients’ safety), Advanced eKYC (completing customer identification processes digitally), Automated Contract Signing and Debt Collection and robust customer relationship management.

Talking about Orpheus’ products and services, let’s start with “GajiNow,” which is a salary advancement service. The beneficiary receives salary advancements from 500-2000 Malaysian Ringgit based on his/her gross monthly salary. Repayment happens either in full or in instalments via deduction from the next paycheck issued by the beneficiary’s employer.

Apart from being Sharia compliant, ‘GajiNow’ doesn’t require the applicant to put forward any collateral/tangible security, while applying for the service. From application to salary advancement financing, the whole process happens through the digital route, with the beneficiary receiving his/her funds within 24 hours upon the arrival of financing.

‘GajiNow’ has been tailored to protect Malaysians from ‘Loan sharks’, who have earned the infamy of operating as illegal money lenders, apart from targeting those not doing well financially.

These bad actors reportedly tempt and lure their targets into a sense of security by being friendly and helpful, apart from offering the needy financial help as the mainstream banks turn away those individuals’ loan applications, due to reasons like poor credit rating or the amount requested being too low.

In fact, nearly 900 suspected loan sharks were arrested by October 2023, as the police recorded 1,000 cases in 2021 alone. In February 2024, reports emerged about loan sharks allegedly torching the car of a Malaysian couple, as the latter refused to pay 27, 740 Malaysian Ringgit for a loan taken out by their son.

Orpheus is on a mission to protect the vulnerable in the Malaysian socio-economic order. Now these individuals have an alternative in the form of ‘GajiNow’, as they can get salary advancements without putting forward collaterals/tangible securities.

Empowering The Businesses

For small businesses, we have Orpheus’ ‘Contract Financing’, which is a monetary assistance service for the SMEs to help the latter fulfil their contractual obligations to the buyer. The ‘Contract Financing’ allows the seller to complete the work on time and to the buyer’s satisfaction, while also maintaining their own financial stability.

Orpheus’ other Sharia-compliant financial product is ‘Invoice Financing,’ which is a debt-free way to access cash tied up in the beneficiary’s account receivable. It provides a cash flow solution for SMEs’ business opportunities as it unlocks their receivables and turns them into cash the fastest way.

The similarity between ‘GajiNow’, ‘Contract Financing’ and ‘Invoice Financing’ is that all of them rule out loan collaterals, apart from providing the funds within 24 hours of the financing approval.

The Road Ahead

Islamic fintech is rapidly expanding in Malaysia. In 2023, over 300 such companies were operating in the country, spanning diverse categories including e-wallets, payments, lending, wealthtech, insurtech and blockchain.

At the same point in time, the Southeast Asian country is putting up a fight against the bad actors called ‘Loan sharks’. These elements used to take advantage of the banks denying loans to the economically vulnerable, following which these individuals used to get entangled in the web of instalment payment cycles, apart from living under the fear of being physically harmed.

However, Orpheus has found a solution to this problem through its ‘No Collateral’ loan disbursal model. Fintechs are known for reaching out to the financially underserved and Orpheus is doing exactly that, while staying true to the principles of Islamic Finance.

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