Customer Spotlight Series: Satang

This week, we sat down with Poramin Insom, founder and CEO of Satang, our partner in Thailand, to discuss his business, vision, and outlook on the state of cryptocurrency in Thailand.

Poramin is most known as the founder and lead developer of Zcoin. A software engineer by training, he returned to Thailand after completing his Masters at Johns Hopkins University and in 2017 founded Satang Corporation, a digital asset services provider in Thailand.

OKLink: Poramin, thank you so much for spending time with us. Can you tell us about your background and your team?

Poramin: I am the founder and CEO of Satang. I have a team of four people – including one CTO and two software developer. My background is in computer engineering. I got into cryptocurrency while studying for my Masters in Security Informatics at Johns Hopkins University. In order to learn more about the subject I created a cryptocurrency to learn how the mechanism and blockchain works. During that time I created Zcoin, which is a cryptocurrency based on Zerocoin protocol. It was actually a capstone project I had to complete in order to graduate, but the project ended up attracting some bitcoin celebrity investors like Roger Ver and others.

If you want to find out more about Zcoin, read this other interview here.

OKLink: In 2017, you had again tapped your entrepreneurial streak and founded Satang Corporation in Thailand. What is Satang trying to achieve?

Poramin: When I came back from the U.S. I decided to create my own company in Thailand that focus on bitcoin and blockchain because in Thailand there wasn’t any blockchain company yet at that time.

Satang is a bitcoin application wallet that integrates social features into the bitcoin wallet. It is somewhat modelled after Venmo, a popular social payment platform in the U.S.  You can send money to your friends or do split payment with this application.  When I was living in the States my friends always used Venmo to pay money back each other after having dinner or lunch.

My idea is why don’t we integrate Venmo’s social features into a bitcoin wallet because usually people find bitcoin quite hard to understand and used primarily by traders. So I try to create the platform that makes bitcoin easier to access for people in Thailand.  That is my primary goal. We are planning to integrate Ethereum, Zcoin and other cryptocurrency like Ripple in a few months’ time.

OKLink: Why do you think people would actually use bitcoin to share payments rather than tradition methods?

Poramin: That’s a really good question.  Because we do believe in bitcoin and in fact all cryptocurrencies.  We believe it will become one of the major currencies in the world and that vision plays into why we do what we do in the first place. But in order to achieve that we need to create an ecosystem that is necessary for mass adoption and we want to be a part of that ecosystem.

OKLink: How receptive are people in Thailand to bitcoin – are they quick to adapt and use?

Poramin: Not really, from our transactions and observation they just want to buy and sell, and sometimes make cross-border transactions.  But we have yet seen mass adoption of bitcoin in day-to-day consumption and transfers between friends.  Part of this may be related to the lengthy confirmation time required for small transactions, which according to bitcoin rule should take 10 minutes but right now take up to one or two hours.

So, while our goal is to focus on social payments locally in Thailand, we have evolved to focus on cross-border transactions due to the obvious advantage of using blockchain technologies in this space. That said, we are hopeful that the number of local people that know about bitcoin and use it will grow over time.

OKLink: Interesting. So you actually want Satang to be a social app where people share taxi bills and things like that using cryptocurrency; while processing remittances is just one of the services you offer but not the main one.

How did you decide to partner with OKLink?

Poramin: Some of your representatives contacted us via email.  You are affiliated with OKCoin which we already have transactions with, and we thought that partnering with OKLink will open our market to operating remittance and not only bitcoin wallet. What OKLink is valuable for us is you connect us to the remittance industries in the world.

OKLink: What are some of the biggest challenges so far in building Satang?

Poramin: I would say I have two challenges.  The first one is a technical challenge because, in Thailand, we don’t have many qualified software engineers. There is a culture of buying software from other countries and a lack of innovation, which means it is quite hard to find software engineer to develop our platform from scratch.  So what I do is I find people who just graduated from university and train them in-house, and that education process takes time.

CentralWorld, the largest lifestyle shopping destination in Bangkok

The second issue is liquidity. There are lots of restrictions in Thailand for startups like us to grow further. For example if we want to operate as money transmitter we would need to have at least 7 million USD just for the license. In Thailand, there are only two licensed money transmitters: the first one is Central, a top shopping mall operator in Thailand, and the other is the post office. Central also has shopping malls in Germany, France, and Italy. In Vietnam, they have shopping malls, hotels and other businesses. As you can see, the bar is pretty high.

OKLink: Do you have any investors in Satang?

Poramin: Not yet, but we are talking to banks right now. They want to have a stake in us because they know that eventually bitcoin is going to come, whether than wait and see, they want to invest right now.

OKLink: So far how many people have been using Satang? What kind of growth are you experiencing?

Poramin: Right now it’s around 2,000, and we expect the user base to grow to 10,000 by the end of this year.

OKLink: Nice.  How do you plan to achieve the 10,000 target by the end of this year?

Poramin: As of now we haven’t done that much advertising, for example only on Google but not Facebook. And as you know Facebook users in Thailand is number two after Indonesia, if I’m not mistaken.  And we also haven’t started our referral program yet. We have so many more opportunities to do marketing and PR, and that is our plan in the line in order to achieve that number.

OKLink: It definitely sounds like a lot of potential growth in that regard. On that note, that’s all the questions we have and once again, thank you so much for your time!


Interested in joining OKLink or want to be featured? Talk to us at partner@oklink.com.

Customer Spotlight Series: Curfex

This week, we put the spotlight on Curfex, a P2P international money transfer platform in Hong Kong. Founded in 2016, Curfex currently allows users to send money between the Hong Kong and South Korea corridor. They will be launching more Asian-Oceanic currencies soon, including Australia, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.

We spoke with founder Wee-keat Lee for more insight on Curfex.

OKLink: Thank you so much for spending time with us, Wee-keat. Let’s start by talking about yourself – what were you doing before Curfex?

Wee-keat: That’s a long story actually. I was an equity analyst at DBS for 5 years before I made a transition from being a financial analyst to becoming a corporate strategist. Later on I worked as a management consultant for another year.

OKLink: What brought you to the remittance industry?

Wee-keat: It’s a bit of everything. I’m Malaysian, and I constantly have the need to send money back to Malaysia. One of the frustrations I had was poor transparency and a total lack of control. Whenever you send money back to Malaysia, the Hong Kong bank would not be able to tell you what the exchange rate is. You can only send the amount back, the Malaysian bank will then determine the rate band, and then the Hong Kong bank will tell you how much you manage to get your transfer through. Most of the time you end up paying quite a lot of fees transferring back to Malaysia.

Over time as well, whenever my friends and I get together to do some investments abroad, we always have similar problems sending money overseas because the fee charged would be quite high for certain currencies. When we saw there is a rise in P2P transfer in Europe and the U.S. like Azimo, Transferwise, WorldRemit, and so on, we were looking for the Asia alternative but couldn’t find anything in Asia.

So all of these things together, was how the idea came about.

OKLink: Can you tell us a bit more about the latest developments at Curfex?

Wee-keat: Sure. Curfex started last year and we got our MSO license in Hong Kong in April 2016. We’re on beta right now but we’re down to the last bit of system integration. After that we can open up the platform and launch the Hong Kong and Korea corridor. We charge customers a flat 1% fee regardless of transaction amount and the exchange rate is always the spot rate.

OKLink: What’s the structure of your team?

Wee-keat: There are overall about 6 parties. I have my partner in Korea running North Asia including Japan, and a partner in Malaysia looking at the South Asian markets. My whole development team is based in Malaysia and I have two partners in Australia looking at the Australia and New Zealand markets. So all in all, I have 2 guys in Korea, 1 in Japan, myself in Hong Kong, 6 in Malaysia, 2 in Australia.

Curfex attended the first FinTech event #techinasia Tokyo in September 2016 

OKLink: What are the corridors that Curfex specializes in?

Weakeat: We’d like to see ourselves upgrading and focusing on the Asia Pacific region, with emphasis on the South Asian corridors. But like I mentioned earlier, what we currently have is Hong Kong to South Korea and vice versa.

At the inception of Curfex we identified 12 markets in the Asia Pacific region – including six in South East Asia and six in North Asia, Australia and New Zealand. The idea was we looked at the flow of funds between these 12 countries and realize they are actually quite balanced among these countries. It is from this basis that we wanted to start building the platform.

OKLink: What customers are you most excited to serve?

Wee-keat: Ideally we’d like to see ourselves as a platform that’s helping a lot of migrant workers save a lot of money because they are the ones who are actually paying the highest fees sending money back home. It’s fascinating that at this age a lot of things are still murky. Many of us take things for granted and don’t question the rates. The truth is banks are able to give better rates to priority customers but not smaller individual clients. When it comes to migrant workers, they actually lose a lot of money to the system. That’s where we want to step in and help.

In terms of geographical location, we’re looking at places like Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia to a certain extent, and going further into Vietnam as well.

OKLink: What is the biggest challenge in opening corridors?  

Wee-keat: I think the biggest challenge is probably understanding the culture, because not every country goes by a rule book. It’s also important to understand the nuances and history behind the industry. Having that understanding will help you to better approach, or to take the right measures in things like applying for licenses.

The thing with South East Asia is that the culture is very different, and the pace is a lot slower. The application can take a little longer than what you’d expect. For example we submitted the same MSO license applications in some of the South East Asian countries and Hong Kong. Hong Kong was able to process it in the span of a couple months, while South East Asia basically came back with a lot of different questions. There is a lot of red tape involved and it’s always an ongoing process.

OKLink: Do you need an MSO license in every country you operate in?  

Wee-keat: We go two routes – for the first route we try to get our own MSO license, and for the second route we try to approach licensed players and try to partner with them. Some of the low hanging fruits that we usually go for are brick and mortar businesses that have not opened up their electronic or digital businesses. We help them to digitalize their business and offer them the portals that they need. We help them to open up more corridors at the same time while using their licenses to service other countries.

OKLink: Do you currently have any customers or transactions?  

Wee-keat: As we are on Beta right now, we are very selective about who we service at the moment because it’s a period when we’re not only testing our systems, we’re also making sure that we’re gathering enough flow of fund between those countries to balance it out.

So right now we’re exclusively working on two customers, one is a corporate customer in Vietnam trying to send to places like China and Singapore; the other is an individual a property investor in Hong Kong trying to send to Japan for its investment property in Japan.

OKLink: Sounds like you guys are targeting only businesses at this stage?

Wee-keat: Correct. That’s the first thing because we need businesses to make sure the fund flows are stable. Individuals are actually quite volatile because you can’t predict when someone will send money abroad. If you just have retail or you are not able to project or estimate where the flow of funds is, you may be a little steered toward one country and you have trouble meeting the liquidity of another country. But if you build a base with the businesses, when the retail comes in, it doesn’t actually fluctuate that much or not as volatile as could be.

Eventually we would like to extend our services to migrant workers. At the end of the day that’s the community we’d like to help with because while businesses appreciate the convenience, their actual savings is not as much as with migrant workers.

OKLink: What does your typical day look like?

Wee-keat: It’s a bit of everything. My partners say I’m very convincing, so every time we need to convince a regulator, or a partner, I’m there. That’s my primary role – which is also why I’m flying a lot. Partially this is what I was trained up to do as an analyst, because whenever you sell a stock you have to market the company really well. My team is also everywhere so I have to constantly get in touch with them and make sure that everything is going according to plan.

OKLink: What are the biggest opportunities you’re seeing in the remittance industry?

Wee-keat: The most important thing is working together. If you are competing with the different operators out there, essentially what you’re doing is you’re ring fencing your own customers. And when everyone starts to ring fence their customers, there’re not that many customers to go around. But if you’re able to open yourself up and work with others, then their customers can be part of your customers, and with that critical mass can the true P2P model actually work.

OKLink: That sounds very much like why we are building the OKLink network in the first place – to connect players in the remittance industry, big and small. In what area do you think OKLink can help your business the most? How are you planning to use OKLink?

Wee-keat: Real time turnaround. We tell customers we want to send money under one business day. It offers them more control so that they don’t have to wait a few days. We are talking about using OKLink for Hong Kong and Singapore, and potentially also other corridors.


Interested in joining OKLink or want to be featured? Talk to us at support@oklink.com.

Introducing the Customer Spotlight Series: Coinplug

customer spotlight coinplug cropped.png

Much like your average person, we like to talk about ourselves. A lot. “On average, people spend 60% of conversations talking about themselves – and this figure jumps to 80% when communicating via social media platforms” This quote from Scientific American (unfortunately) rings true on our communication channels. We’re looking to shake things up a bit – after all, OKLink’s biggest successes are closely tied with customer successes.

Which is why we’re excited to introduce our Customer Spotlight series, purely focused on introducing our customers and the hard work they do to excel in their business. This week, we put the spotlight on Coinplug, a South Korean startup founded in 2013 as a bitcoin exchange network. We spoke with Evelyn Chung, Director of Marketing & Business Development, for more insight on Coinplug:coinplug

OKLink: Thanks for spending the time to tell us about Coinplug, Evelyn. Let’s just right into it by talking about yourself – how did you hear about Coinplug in the first place?

Evelyn: My former boss is also the founder of Coinplug – he told me about the business and asked me to join.

OKLink: Got it. Let’s actually talk about Coinplug – it gained a lot of publicity when it opened Korea’s first bitcoin ATM, can you tell me about that event?

Evelyn: Coinplug first started as a bitcoin exchange platform. The consumer penetration was low as not many people knew about bitcoin, or understood it. We decided to open the first bitcoin ATM in 2014 to make bitcoin accessible to Koreans, which would also be a way to educate them on the technology.

OKLink: Sounds like it was a big mission from the start. How were you able to do it?

Evelyn: There are a lot of independent ATMs in Korea – these ATMs can help you withdraw/deposit funds into your bank accounts, but are not actually products of any banks. We partnered with these companies to create the bitcoin ATM.

OKLink: And now how many bitcoin ATMs are there around Korea?

Evelyn: There are now around 20,000 all around Korea.

coinplug atms.png

 (All the dots represent where a bitcoin ATM can be found throughout Korea)

OKLink: That’s amazing.

From my understanding there is a shift in focus on using the bitcoin technology to enter the remittance industry. Can you tell me about that?

Evelyn: There is a large amount of migrant workers in South Korea, with the numbers totaling close to 1 million. Most overseas remittances are done via SWIFT network like they are in many other countries, which means they take longer and have a high fee. By using our bitcoin ATMs, we are able to use the blockchain technology and bypass the third party, lowering time and cost.

coinplug bitcoin atm.jpg

(A Bitcoin ATM in Korea. Photo credit: Coindesk)

OKLink: Sounds like a much more efficient way to receive money from different countries. With the ATMs, what’s the easiest way for a user to pick up cash?

Evelyn: As ATMs are located mostly in convenience stores such as 7-11 and CU, it is very easy for people to access the ATMs and pick up their cash there. People can also send directly to our mobile wallet, speeding up the process even more.

OKLink: Great, that actually leads us to the last and most exciting thing about Coinplug, your newest product which is the Coinplug Bitcoin Wallet. Since there are so many different types of mobile wallets out there, what makes Coinplug’s different from the crowd?

coinplug wallet

(Coinplug’s Bitcoin Mobile Wallet in the iOS App Store.)

Evelyn: In terms of bitcoin, we offer real-time bitcoin trading. Users can set if they want to buy/sell their bitcoin at “market price”, where they can set the price, or they can “instant buy/sell”, where we set the price for them and they go by these prices.

What’s also great is because we work with OKLink, any global company can send money to the Coinplug wallet directly, as well as withdraw through a linked ATM in Korea.

OKLink: Yes, we are excited about that development as well. So how do people actually send to the Coinplug wallet?

Evelyn: The sender wires local currency to their local company; provided this company is also partners with OKLink, we can then receive the funds and send to the recipient’s mobile wallet for them to receive in Korean Won.

OKLink: What kinds of people are you seeing using the send service the most?

Evelyn: There are about 100,000 foreign students studying in Korea, who are all receiving monthly allowances from their home countries. We are seeing a growth in, and looking to target, the parents of the foreign students, who find this product to be very useful.

OKLink: What are the long-term plans for the Coinplug mobile wallet?

Evelyn: We hope to soon be able to have multiple wallets that are feature-specific for different demographics, for example, a different wallet for foreign migrant workers in Korea.

OKLink: Thank you so much for your time Evelyn, we look forward to seeing the Coinplug mobile wallet and the business grow!


Partners of OKLink can now send directly in real-time to Korea through Coinplug’s mobile wallet. For more information on Coinplug and their products, please visit their website.