SoCash: Connecting Asia’s consumers to mobile-driven cash services through Google Maps Platform

Southeast Asia is a region of 650 million people experiencing rising incomes and embracing new technology, however, millions of people still don’t have access to traditional banking accounts. To address this need, Singapore-based company SoCash developed a platform to enable access to cash for people in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. If ATMs aren’t readily available, SoCash thought, why not turn cafes, fruit vendors, pizza parlors, mom-and-pop stores, and more into a sprawling Southeast Asian cash network accessible through a mobile app? “The idea behind SoCash is to use technology to remove banking from branches and take it directly to the consumers,” explains SoCash CEO Hari Sivan.

But tracking down a tiny grocery store in a bustling megalopolis like Jakarta is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. That’s why SoCash needed the most powerful mapping solution available to drive its mission of enabling cash connections. The company turned to Google Maps Platform as the backbone of its solution to bring financial access to a region on the move. “We needed a reliable solution that integrates painlessly across platforms such as Android and iOS,” says Hari. “And Google Maps Platform provided a proven, cross-platform solution that helped us get off the ground quickly.”

SoCash worked with digital transformation company Searce to seamlessly implement their product.“ Searce has been a valuable partner in our engagement with Google tools and platforms,” adds Hari. “Its inputs have been valuable for us to understand how best the Google Maps Platform capabilities can add value to our mission.”

Driving Financial Innovation with Powerful APIs

SoCash is helping to shape the region’s powerful internet banking wave by connecting consumer, shop, and bank on a single smartphone-based platform. With no additional hardware, the solution eliminates the need for branches, ATMs, and card-reading machines. Withdrawals are validated by QR code, eliminating intermediaries and keeping costs down.

SoCash is growing at a CMGR (compound monthly growth rate) of 22%, demonstrating how it has tapped into a huge financial need. According to Hari, SoCash attributes 100% of its growth to the extensive lineup of APIs on Google Maps Platform, which enable creative geolocation solutions that turn confusing urban layouts into simple, easy to navigate spaces.

“Location is one of the most critical components of our application,” says Hari. “Google Maps Platform drives our user experience and helps us tailor the experience based on where our users are.”

Places Geocoding and Reverse Geocoding APIs help SoCash direct users to the best places to withdraw cash by turning addresses into geographic coordinates, and geographic coordinates into addresses. These tools combine with Distance Matrix API to allow customers to make informed decisions on their immediate cash needs. The APIs also deliver crucial information such as store opening and closing times, and when a vendor’s usual operating hours change.

The pinpoint precision of Google Maps Platform has allowed SoCash to develop robust fraud detection mechanisms that guarantee the safety of its own platform. “The key thing has been the quality and simplicity of the Google Maps Platform APIs,” says Hari. “It’s essential to have tools which our engineering team is comfortable with and finds easy to use.”

Adopting Google best practices like proxy server deployments has helped SoCash keep costs down while providing seamless experiences. The stream of updates for Google Maps Platform, meanwhile, translates into continuous performance improvements on the SoCash platform.

“The latest Google Maps Platform upgrade brought down response times by a few milliseconds,” says Hari. “That may sound small, but we’re processing hundreds of thousands of events, and the load is very high. Every millisecond matters.”

Connecting a Sprawling Region through Machine Learning

In the next phase of SoCash’s journey with Google, the company is moving toward adopting Google Cloud machine learning solutions to personalize the user experience. “We’re just at the stage where we’ve collected enough data to start turning it into intelligent insights,” says Hari. “Our team is now working with machine learning experts at Google to model predictions such as, ‘when will Hari need cash next?’”

As SoCash expands its cash network across Southeast Asia, it anticipates a need to cater to the specific requirements of each market within the region. This means data analytics will become increasingly vital to the solution. “What works for Singapore may not work for Malaysia, for example,” says Hari. “So we need to customize for each market using the data that we collect.” Amid strong growth, SoCash maintains a keen focus on its mission to enable better financial access by bringing consumers and small shops together. “At the end of the day, it’s all about connecting people,” says Hari, “and that’s why Google Maps Platform will always be at the core of our platform.”