Beacon Interface – a new startup of KBank – wins Global FinTechHackcelerator in Singapore with its best mobile app for the visually impaired



Beacon Interface, a new startup company, was awarded two prizes in Singapore FinTech Festival 2016 – aworld-class FinTech competition organized by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the city state’s financial institution regulator, in recognition of its innovative financial mobile appthat allowsvisually impaired persons to securely and conveniently conduct financial transactions with the same ease expected by those with normal vision. This innovation – a breakthrough in the global financial realm – is aligned with KBank’s concept of promoting equal access to financial services among all Thai people. The service will be available in the first quarter of 2017.

Mr. Teeranun Srihong, KASIKORNBANK President and KASIKORN BUSINESS-TECHNOLOGY GROUP Chairman,said that Beacon Interface, which is a new startup withKBank support, submitted a financial app to the Singapore FinTech Festival 2016, a global FinTech competition sponsored by MAS, and it won two prizes,i.e. “Winner of Global FinTech Hackcelerator” from MAS, and the “Developer Hub Award”, a prize granted by Citigroup, one of the major sponsors of the event. 

            This app, the first created by Beacon Interface, boasts an innovation for financial transactions via smartphones with a newly designed touch screen interface that empowersthe visually impaired to conduct financial transactions online with confidence. It provides its users with privacy, convenience, speedand security in alignment with KBank’sfinancial inclusion concept, wherein financial services must be delivered to all segments of Thai society.

This high-tech innovation creates a new mobile experience for the blind and people with low vision, topping 285 million globally, including seniors whose number is surging in the aging society. They can use this mobile app via touch screen with ease and confidence. With the non-location based interface, users do not need to look at the screen while conducting transactions,as multi-sensory feedbacks assist and direct users in every stepof a transaction. The app also provides greater convenience for people with normal vision who may wish to perform transactions without looking at the screen. 

To develop this application, Beacon Interface collaborated with a technical team of KBTG under support and guidance from Dr. Nantanoot Suwannawut, an online system expert for visually impaired persons and currently Academic Officer, Office of the Basic Education Commission, Ministry of Education, as well as cooperation from anacademic partner, ABLE Lab (Achieve Better Living for Elderly), led by Asst.Prof.Dr.Chujit Treerattanaphan, Associate Dean for Research School of Architecture and Design, King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT), in the research into a user experience, which enhances efficiency of Beacon Interface's application to completely accommodate target group's needs.

Mr. Teeranun added that Beacon Interface is the first FinTech starup that strives to create benefits and values to the society by providing everybody with equal access to technologies. Hopefully, the prizes from this competition will make innovations of the company better known and garner more cooperation from the public and private sectors at home and abroad in promoting visually impaired persons to have greater access and opportunity to use this innovation more widely. Currently, this application is in the development stage and will be ready for use in the first quarter of 2017.

Aside from the visually impaired persons, Beacon Interface’s financial service innovation can be used in less developed countries, as well. According to the World Bank, such an innovation can assist billions of unbanked persons, especially those who are illiterate in less developed countries worldwide, to use the smartphone app for financial transactions without any problem. It is believed, therefore, that Beacon Interface’s financial service innovation will allow those people to have greater access to financial services in line with the Universal Financial Access (UFA) policy of the World Bank President that aims to reduce poverty in less developed countries through financial inclusion.   

The Global FinTech Hackcelerator competition in the Singapore FinTech Festival 2016 was organized by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), aimed at seeking the world’s best FinTech innovative application. About 650 projects from 50 countries worldwide entered the competition. Under the competition, Beacon Interface brought reputation and pride to Thailand because it was the only Thai startup to enter the round of 20 teams shortlisted for the final and eventually win two prizes, i.e., “Winner of Global FinTech Hackcelerator” and Citibank Developer Hub Award”.