Name of Recipient:
Mr. Kwan Weng Yew
Established in 2009 by Mr. Kwan Weng Yew, A1 Credit is a licensed moneylending company, providing loan options and services such as payday loans, installment loans, loan transfers, and more for people in need of financial aid. They are also one of the few moneylending companies in Singapore to provide business loans, offering short-term or operation funding to small-medium enterprises. To ensure their credibility in their industry, A1 Credit thoroughly screens the backgrounds of their potential clients before their loans are approved.
With the government legalizing the moneylending industry in 2009, Mr. Kwan saw it as an opportunity to cater to the pool of lower income people who don’t qualify for bank loans. “At that time, the only sources of financial aid people could go to were banks, and loansharks. However, the banks have strict qualifying criteria that many people may not meet. Therefore, they only option was to approach loansharks.” He then added, “As a licensed moneylender, we are able to offer an alternative option for people in need. Having a small startup fund, this gives me the opportunity to be able to provide loans to consumers in a smaller scale compared to banks who possess more operating capital.”
However, like the others in the moneylending industry, A1 Credit faced the social stigma of being associated with illegal moneylenders. Mr. Kwan said, “The biggest challenge we faced was probably how licensed moneylenders are associated with being ‘licensed loansharks’. This has to do with a lot of black sheeps in the market and a lack of understanding of why our interest is higher compared to banks.”
In addition, the moneylending industry took another hit in 2011, when they were forbidden by IPTO to advertise via print media. “It certainly has affected the number of customers who know of alternative loan solutions.” Mr. Kwan said, “We understand that such measures are necessary to pull the reins on the industry, but on the flip side of the coin, the industry and consumers at the lower end are probably affected too.”
With their business affected, the company had no choice but to cut manpower to cope with the downturn in the industry. But they are not willing to admit defeat just yet. Mr. Kwan said, “We continued to serve our existing clients, and maintained a good relationship with them so that they will come back to us should they need our services. We also moved from our outlet in Peninsula Plaza to Marine Parade now. Back then, there was not much foot traffic, and not many know we exist. At least we are in a more prominent spot now, and they are able to see where we are.”
Today, A1 Credit has established itself as a reliable service provider for their clients. And they have differentiated themselves from the rest of the industry by thoroughly screens the backgrounds of their potential clients before their loans are approved. “As of 2015, all licensed moneylenders will have to do background checks on their clients before approving their loans, whereas we have already been doing that. We also have more experience handling bigger loans and larger sums of money, so on that front, we have the advantage over others.”
It has not been an easy journey for Mr. Kwan, but spurred on by his family and employees, he has led A1 Credit to achieve considerable success. “My family and kids keep me going; it is thought of being able to provide for them and give them a better life. My employees are another factor that keeps me going; I am not only providing for them but for their families as well. I strive to retain and improve the talent pool I have at hand, in terms of exposures and income level in which they are at.”
“A lot of resilience and consistency is required to keep the business going at a profitable rate. I started off as a one-man show, working on the frontline, being hands-on with the business and my customers. Being an entrepreneur, it really means being able to swallow risk and able to withstand and overcome the changes and challenges in whichever industry one chooses to be in.”
With the government clamping down on the moneylending industry, the future of the industry is an unknown. However, Mr. Kwan still remains optimistic about A1 Credit’s future. “Expansion in the licensed moneylending industry is very much restricted by the registry, and the government is looking to clamp down on it and filter the black sheep from the good lenders. What we can do is to continue to serve our current customers, and remain as transparent and professional as we have always been.”
With their experience, transparency, and the high level of service they provide to their customers, there is little doubt that A1 Credit will continue to weather any challenges presented in their way, and establish themselves as a prominent company in the competitive moneylending industry.
83 Marine Parade Central
T| 6336 0833