T&M-DDP Students used technology to help underbanked people to access financial services

16 Dual Degree Program in Technology and Management (T&M-DDP) students, together with peers from Nanyang Technological University and University of California, Berkeley, participated in Inter-Varsity Entrepreneurship Challenge 2016 in Singapore from 29 May to 8 June with the theme of helping unbanked and underbanked people to access financial services.

Students from the 3 universities formed mixed teams to compete for the best business plan award.  Each team was required to identify a specific gap in the financial services industry and develop a strategy to address the issue and improve the convenience and accessibility of the financial services with the latest web or mobile technology.

Startup founders and top management of financial service companies were invited to deliver talks to share their valuable experiences in startup journey and inspire the students with ideas of providing financial services through non-traditional channels.      

The winning team’s company named “Esential” provides short term loans to underbanked citizens of the United States and uses the debtors’ tax refunds as the collateral. As Esential can secure the loan from debtors’ annual tax refunds and minimize the risk of bad debts, they can offer loans at a low and affordable interest rate of 3.5% per month capped at 20% per year, verses traditional payday loan of 35% to over 100% per year.

Students enjoyed very good hospitality from the host, Nanyang Technological University.  They visited Aquarium at Sentosa, enjoyed authentic food at Singapore food court and spent one night at Bintan, a beautiful island in Indonesia.

About The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) (www.ust.hk) is a world-class research university that focuses on science, technology and business as well as humanities and social science.  HKUST offers an international campus, and a holistic and interdisciplinary pedagogy to nurture well-rounded graduates with global vision, a strong entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking.  HKUST attained the highest proportion of internationally excellent research work in the Research Assessment Exercise 2014 of Hong Kong’s University Grants Committee, and is ranked as the world’s best young university in Times Higher Education’s Young University Rankings 2019.  Its graduates were ranked 16th worldwide and top in Greater China in Global University Employability Survey 2018.