The Star - Green Packet rejuvenated
CC Puan returns to lead group after three-year hiatus
In late 2016, technology entrepreneur Puan Chan Cheong (better known as CC Puan) decided to take a break away from the corporate world and head to the hills, literally.
Seeing to pursue a combination of more self discipline, better health in mind, body and soul, and to experience what it would be like to literally “away from it all”, Puan enrolled in a 100-day long stint at the foothills of the Himalayas.
The founder of Green Packet Bhd recalls his time on the mountains.
“It was difficult, it was profound, and it was everything I hoped for to bring me peace and clarity.
“I started my first business while I was at university and I just kept going.
“The Himalayas provided a much-needed pause especially when I was contemplating my purpose and contribution to the world.
“You know why it’s so difficult?
“I had to be silent for 10-day stretches.
“People who know me will wonder how I managed.
“While I have always practised meditation, I am naturally extroverted and communicative,” he tells StarBizWeek in an exclusive interview since coming back to the helm of Green Packet just over 100 days ago.
Puan founded Green Packet in 2000 and listed the company in 2005.
It had started out as a software solutions company and later expanded into the broadband business.
At its peak in 2007, Green Packet commanded a market capitalisation of a whopping RM3bil, which at exchange rates then meant that the company hit a value of US$1bil, the benchmark used today to determine whether a technology firm has reached “unicorn” status.
Alas, that value and the company’s prowess did not continue – it fell victim to a change in the standards of broadband technology.
It was a battle between LTE and WiMAX, akin to the high-definition optical disc format war between Blu-ray and HD DVD optical disc, which saw the former edging out the latter.
Large global telcos decided to go with LTE and as a result, suffocated the WiMAX device ecosystem.
Following the sale of its WiMAX operator Packet One Networks (P1) to Telekom Malaysia back in 2014, Green Packet began to make investments into digital services, with a focus on financial technology.
Fast forward to today, and Green Packet, like Puan, seems to have a new lease of life.
From a man who was arguably Malaysia’s first unicorn and has seen his fortunes dip, Puan has bounced back once again. It is no surprise for a man who saw running water and electricity for the first time at the age of 13, but made his first RM100mil at the age of 33.
Over the last three months, Green Packet has seen its stock price nearly doubling.
Last week, a Singapore-based private equity (PE) fund surfaced as a substantial shareholder, forking out some RM45.5mil to buy 65 million shares of Green Packet, giving it a 7.1% stake.
Kendall Court’s founder Chris Chia says that he likes the company’s prospects in its new ventures, particularly its fintech business.
In a press statement then, Chia said he hopes that Kendall Court can potentially help fast-track Green Packet’s growing fintech business by leveraging on the PE fund’s network and experience across the region.
Apart from that, Chia notes that Green Packet has yet to unlock the potential from the full spectrum of their assets, such as its money lending license
Checks reveal that Chia is a non-independent non-executive director of Bangkok Bank Bhd, the Malaysian arm of the largest commercial bank in Thailand by total deposits and shareholders’ equity – also one of the leading commercial banks in South-East Asia.
Focus on fintech
Green Packet has also just secured approval for a 10% placement of its shares, which should raise between RM56.91mil to RM85.17mil for the company.
Sources say that some China funds, perhaps even global AI giant SenseTime Group Ltd may be looking to take up some of the placement offerings of Green Packet.
Currently, Green Packet is fully focused on fintech, artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT).
The group’s fintech products and services are represented by the kiple brand.
The kiplePay eWallet and kipleBiz payment gateway have garnered a transaction volume of more than RM300mil this year.
To date, kiplePay eWallet has powered some RM100mil in transactions, and Green Packet aims to get it to more than RM300mil by year-end and RM1bil by 2020.
In the current marketplace where eWallet providers are flooding the retail space, it is interesting to see Green Packet take on a different strategy, by focusing on niche sectors for online-offline payment transactions.
Green Packet ventured into the university vertical, which is a relatively underserved segment, through a collaboration with Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) and Bank Islam this year.
Bank Islam is one of the main banks servicing local universities in Malaysia.
Following the success of kiplePay in that pilot project, more universities are coming on board, says Puan.
“Our focus this year is to create the best cashless campus and university town eWallet with custom features that are perfect for the university and student life.
“We believe that many niches add up to massive users.
“We are also getting good traction in another vertical with attributes of a large customer base and high transaction volume,” says Puan, adding that more information will be shared once such collaborations are formalised.
Besides that, kiplePark recently launched its Licence Plate Recognition (LPR) solution, which has a 99.8% accuracy rate.
Since going to market in March this year, kiplePark has already acquired 26 sites.
While users enjoy a seamless ticketless and cashless parking experience, parking operators are seeing a marked improvement in parking management operations.
In fact, due to the increased transparency, some parking operators have doubled their revenues.
Then, there is kipleHome, created to solve the pain points of property management and joint management bodies.
Puan notes that there is a sizeable market for kipleHome, such as gated guarded residences, condominiums, offices, schools, or any property that requires secured access, visitor management, billing, payments, as well as personnel management.
kiplePark won its first customer in Thailand based on a prototype.
As for AI and IoT, Green Packet’s 32%-owned G3 Global Bhd has access to the top-of-the-class proprietary AI technologies through its strategic partnership with the world’s most-valued AI company, SenseTime.
SenseTime is leveraging on the ability of G3’s subsidiary Atilze Digital to create custom solutions for local needs, be it smart retail, smart traffic, or smart factories.
To date, G3 has made some inroads with smart mobility and smart agriculture, participating in government tenders when deemed suitable.
However, the most exciting development would be the AI Park – a three party collaboration between G3, SenseTime, and China Harbour Engineering, that are jointly investing US$1bil.
Industry sources say that Puan had played a major role in securing SenseTime to become a key partner in the AI park, to be located at Technology Park Malaysia in Bukit Jalil.