Friday, January 31, 2020

Investing in non-listed growth company via equity crowdfunding

Equity crowdfunding (ECF) is something new but yet not so new in Malaysia investment market.

It provides a Securities Commission regulated platform that allows start-up companies and SME to get new capital fund through small equity investments from the public crowd by using approved online platform.

On the other hand, it provides a governed platform that allows general public to gain access to invest in share equity of non-listed companies that are on the growing track, and has the potential to become a unicorn that brings in multi-fold returns.

Previously, investment in such early stage equities of those non-listed companies is a privilege to sophisticated investors (a.k.a. rich people with millions of personal investment fund), private equity funds, angel funds, etc. Equity crowdfunding enables ordinary retail investors to participate in investment to those companies with a more affordable, smaller amount of money, as low as a few hundred ringgit.

The main advantages, which are also the disadvantages at the same time, of ECF are that:

  • The selling price of the new shares issued during a crowdfunding campaign is fixed. Even though it might be very hot-selling, the price will not go up, and even though it might be having very few investors, the price will also not go down. The price is also not affected by general investment market sentiment, or socio-political affairs. This is of advantage to the investors, as the price is solely based on fundamentals. Major events such as Wuhan virus outbreak will not shaken the offering price.
  • The shares purchased (regardless ordinary shares or preference shares) are not volatile and quite hard to resell to the other investors, until the company is public listed or there is big fund that makes offering to buy the shares from existing shareholders.

Today, there are altogether 10 Securities Commission approved equity crowdfunding platforms. Those platforms are tasked as a middleman to help start-ups or SME wanting to finance their business growth through equity crowdfunding by issuing new shares to reach their investors crowd, at the same time to help the investors to perform preliminary filtering and due-diligent to the companies to ensure their pitching and information provided are genuine and meet certain level of integrity.

Among the 10 approved ECF platforms in Malaysia, Crowplus is the first mover, but it seems that they had not gained much advantage of being the first mover. PitchIN is a market leader whereby many companies who seek for ECF and also many investors who want to look for non-listed growth companies investment are putting their trust on PitchIN. MyStartr has been an aggressive challenger that has gained traction in the Chinese speaking community beside the English speaking community.

MyStartr just launched their ECF platform in December 2019. So far, there are 2 successfully funded companies while others are on their way to reach their minimal funding target.

The first successfully funded company is Biztory which raised more than a million ringgit capital through ECF on MyStartr, and they did it within a very short period of 8 days only. Currently, funding activity of this company in MyStartr has stopped.

The second successfully funded company is Rtist, which already raised more than their minimum target of RM200,000. Currently their funding activity in MyStartr is still ongoing towards their ultimate target of 1 million ringgit. Therefore, you can still participating in their growth by becoming one of their minority shareholders through ECF, and you can make your investment there by using your credit card. The Rtist ECF closing date for this round is set on 15 February 2020.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Interest rate reduced, bond price to rise further

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has just reduced the overnight policy rate (OPR) by 25 basis points from 3.00% to 2.75% on 22 January 2020. This is back to the rate 9 years ago at 2011.

Below is the chart of historical OPR rate over the years.

In general, a reduction in interest rate will have a positive impact to bond price (and therefore, the bond funds as well), and vice-versa. OPR and bond price are having an inverse relationship to each other.

This is because most of the bonds are paying fixed interest rate. When the general financial interest rates fall, the bond's fixed interest rate will become more attractive to investors; when the general financial interest rates rise, the bond's fixed interest rate will, in turn, become less attractive.

The Opus Income Plus Fund (IPF) has been performing pretty well recently (refer to the chart below). The reduction in OPR is expected to further boost up its performance.

Click here to learn about how to invest in Opus IPF with 0% sales charge.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Sciener A2F fingerprint smart digital door lock

Locks and keys have been used for decades to safeguard access to the door, for those with the valid key to unlock it only.

Traditional mechanical locks to lock/unlock with physical keys work great. However, their main disadvantages include:

  • Inconvenience for the necessity to carry the key.
  • The key can be duplicated.
  • The key could be lost, stolen or seized. Anyone with the key can lock/unlock the door.
  • The lock could be picked open by using special tools, without using the key.

Typical smart digital door lock is in fact a mechanical lock, with digital keys (well, there is another type of electromagnetic lock with digital keys too). Its main advantages include:
  • Not necessary to carry physical key.
  • Each person can be assigned a unique key, which enable tracing of who has used the key to unlock the door, by what time.
  • Key can be easily generated, and also revoked, by using software method.
  • Key could be replicated to multiple devices belong to the same authorized person.
  • Time based (the key can only be used during certain time period) or event based (the key can only be used once) access control is possible.

Digital key can be in the form of:
  • Biometric: fingerprint, palm, face, iris, voice, vein, ...
  • Passcode
  • Digital signature key pair
  • ...

And the data transmission methods between the key and the lock can be of:
  • Physical contact - fingerprint, palm, vein, ...
  • Computer vision - face, iris, QR code, ...
  • Voice recognition - voice
  • RFID
  • NFC
  • Electromagnetic wave - Infrared, Bluetooth, WiFi, ...
  • ...

The Sciener A2F fingerprint smart digital door lock is a product that combines security and convenience. It supports multiple unlock ways, including:
  • Fingerprint
  • Smartphone app unlock (eKey)
  • Smart watch (eKey)
  • Passcode
  • RFID card (touch access card, wristband, MyKad, Touch n Go card, credit card, debit card, other brand's RFID access card)
  • Physical backup key (for emergency purpose)
  • Smart speaker voice assistant command control (require WiFi Gateway module)
Sciener lock management functions - including assigning new key, key revocation, key management, key usage monitoring, user management, lock behavior setting, etc. are all done using the Sciener Smart Lock app available for free download in Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

The Sciener A2F fingerprint smart digital door lock has a pretty elegant and modern look, adding aesthetic to the door.

It is operated with 4 AA size batteries. Its battery consumption is pretty low, and the batteries in it can last for many months. The battery compartment is located at the lock behind the door, with a single button to open its cover.

The electronic components inside the Sciener smart digital door lock is illustrated as below.

(Picture from Sciener's website)

The Sciener app communicates with the lock using Bluetooth. Communication between the app and the lock is encrypted using Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm. The smartphone running the app needs to be near to the door lock (within Bluetooth communication range of 10 meters) for most of its function to work.

Optionally, the app can also communicate with the lock through Internet via a Smart Gateway module. In this way, you can use the app to access to the lock from anywhere, by using Internet connection.

After a new lock is installed, it needs to be paired with a user registered with Sciener. The user is identified by email address and/or phone number, and the user account is stored in Sciener's cloud database. The user info is automatically synchronized between the Sciener cloud and the mobile app login with a valid account.

That first user will automatically become the Authorized Admin to the lock, which has full access to all its functions and settings. The Authorized Admin can appoint other users as Authorized Admin to co-manage the lock. He can also revoke the Admin rights of the other Authorized Admin.

In the event when the property is sold to another person, the Authorized Admin can transfer the ownership of the lock to another user.

The lock has an internal clock, which when its time is synchronized with the smartphone clock of its Authorized Admin, the admin can use his Sciener app to generate new passcode or send eKey to other users to unlock the door, at any time and any place, even without the need of communicating with the door. The clock, settings and records of the lock will be synchronized with the admin's Sciener app from time to time, whenever they are connected with Bluetooth (i.e. when the admin's smartphone is at home with Bluetooth turned on to communicate with the door lock).

Sciener eKey and passcode can be created with the following time limit settings:
  • Permanent - can be used all the time until revoked.
  • Timed - valid from a defined start date and time until a defined end date and time.
  • One time - can be used to open the door once only.
  • Recurring - can be used within a time period during the defined day of week (e.g. every Monday only, every weekends only, etc.)
The passcode is automatically generated, but can also be manually changed to a number that can be easily remembered. Changing to manually created passcode need to be done near the lock with Bluetooth connection.

For fingerprint and RFID access, it can be:
  • Permanent - can access all the time until revoked.
  • Timed - can access from a defined start date and time until a defined end date and time.
All the door unlock records are stored in the lock, and the admin can view the records in his Sciener app.

With these multiple ways of flexible keys assignment to multiple users, Sciener A2F fingerprint smart digital door lock is very suitable for use in:
  • Family
  • Office
  • Shop
  • Rented residence
  • Short stay
  • Airbnb / homestay
  • Hotel
  • ... any other places you can think of
You can unlock the door even without carrying anything (by using fingerprint, or punching passcode at the lock's keypad) or by using your smartphone, smart watch, RFID card, etc.

The lock admin settings that can be configured in the Sciener app including:
  • Changing the default admin passcode used to unlock the lock.
  • Allow/disallow the lock to be unlocked remotely via the WiFi Gateway. When this is configured properly, you can even open the door using Sciener app when you are far away from home.
  • Set the timer for the lock to auto-lock itself after unlock, in any seconds.
  • Set the time period when the lock will be auto unlocked by itself - the Passage Mode. This is useful for shop or office environment to allow general access during day time, and keep the door locked during night time.
  • Set the lock to feedback with sound when operated, or be silent.
  • Synchronize the clock of the smartphone with the lock.
  • Retrieve records from the lock to the smartphone.
  • Perform lock firmware update. 

Sciener app is designed to be very flexible. A single app login with a single user is able to paired with multiple Sciener locks. You can also create grouping to the locks for easier maintenance. Each of the locks will have a user definable name for identification.

Note that certain digital door lock can be easily hacked and unlocked with a small device called Tesla Coil black box. Being an industry leader, Sciener is aware of this and their locks, at least the latest version of their locks, are immune to Tesla Coil attack.

Another common security concern is brute force trial-and-error on the passcode. Sciener lock's keypad is designed to stop working for a period of time after 5 attempts of wrong passcode entry. while the keypad is temporarily locked, the lock can still be opened by using other methods such as fingerprint, RFID card, physical key, etc. This makes the lock hack deterrence and yet fool proof.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Using Boost e-wallet to trade gold with HelloGold app

HelloGold is a Shahriah-compliant online platform to make it easy for us to buy, sell and/or transfer 99.99% (24 Karat 999) pure gold.

Account opening and all transactions can be performed in the HelloGold mobile app, available for free download in Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

You can check for its gold trading price from the app's opening screen, even without the need to login to the system. The price is updated every few seconds.

HelloGold separates gold price from trading and administrative charges. So, there is only a single reported trading price for both buy and sell, without any spread between them.

You can login the system by either using password or Touch ID fingerprint.

It has a very straight forwards menu, which is self-explanatory.

It used to have an Add Cash option, but that option was recently taken out from the menu.

The gold that you purchased is claimed to be kept in a vault in Singapore. For each single day the gold is kept by HelloGold, they will charge you a fee on daily basis, and the fee is deducted from the quantity of your gold held with them.

You can opt to redeem physical gold that you have purchased, which needs to be in whole gram of PAMP Suisse gold bar. However, redemption will take some times, and it will incur charges from administration, shipping and insurance services, which added up together will not be a cheap amount.

To buy gold, you can make payment by using your cash balance (the cash proceed from previous gold selling), FPX online banking, or Boost e-wallet.

The advantage of using Boost is that it has zero processing fee (compared with RM1.20 processing fee per FPX transaction). In addition, this Boost payment will be entitled for Boost shake for coins, and occasionally there will be joint promotional campaign between HelloGold and Boost for additional cash rewards or benefits.

After selling your gold, you can withdraw the cash by online transfer to your bank account at no cost.

The cost involved in trading gold in HelloGold including:
  • Buy fee (weekday): 0.79% of buying cost
  • Buy fee (weekend): 2.79% of buying cost
  • Sell fee (weekday): 2.00% of selling price
  • Sell fee (weekend): 4.00% of selling price
  • Keeping cost: 0.0055% of your gold deducted per day (equivalent to 2% per year)
The keeping cost is a major drawback with HelloGold. The longer you keep your gold in the system, the lesser your gold will become, as every single day, a little bit of your gold will be deducted to pay for the keeping cost. If you keep for a long time, lets say 5 years, then you will lost 10% of your gold by paying the keeping cost. As such, HelloGold is OK for short term and mid term trading, but will be harmful to your gold keeping for long term due to the cost involved.

If you have already opened a HelloGold account, either new or old, you can go to the Rewards page, choose Enter code, key in FOON5YPH and apply.

You will get a cash reward of RM5 the next time you buy gold worth RM50 and above in HelloGold.

Note that the rewards code can only be used one time per account.

Starting from 15 January 2020 until 14 March 2020, there is a promotional campaign whereby you can get RM10 cashback from Boost and also another RM10 cashback from HelloGold if you buy RM200 and above worth of gold in HelloGold and paid using Boost and keep the gold for 30 days without selling it out.

Assuming you buy RM200 gold with this method, you will get RM20 which is an immediate 10% return, on top of a Boost shake reward.

Note that you are only eligible to buy gold with this campaign for up to 2 times only. So, for the 2nd time of buying RM200 or more gold, you will get another round of cashback.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Using Boost e-wallet to invest in Opus unit trust funds with 0% sales charge

Opus Asset Management has a track record of more than 14 years in fund management industry, and is specialized in fixed income investment.

They used to offer wholesale funds for the sophisticated investors (i.e. rich people) with minimum investment starting from RM50,000.

Recently, they have launched 3 unit trust funds targeted for ordinary investors with minimum investment starting from a much lower RM1,000.

The 3 unit trust funds are:

  • Opus Income Plus Fund (IPF) which is a kind of bond fund seeks to achieve higher returns than Maybank 12-month fixed deposit rate over the medium to long term, while preserving capital and providing an opportunity for income.
  • Opus Money Plus Fund (MPF) which is a kind of money market fund seeks to achieve higher returns than 1-month fixed deposit rate and to provide liquidity while preserving capital.
  • Opus Shariah Income Plus Fund (SIPF) which is a kind of sukuk fund seeks to achieve higher returns than Maybank 12-month Islamic fixed deposit rate over the medium to long term, while preserving capital and providing an opportunity for income.
As you can sense from the description above, all these 3 unit trust funds are pretty conservative, emphasizing more on capital preservation, at the same time trying to beat the fixed deposit rate.

Therefore, they can be used as alternative to fixed deposit savings. They have the following advantages over fixed deposit:
  • You can withdraw your invested money either partially or in whole at any time, without those restrictions as imposed to fixed deposit.
  • You can potentially earn a higher return than fixed deposit rate. In fact, the MPF is pretty safe with minimum chance of losing money, at the same time able to produce slightly better return than fixed deposit.

On top of that, if you invest directly through their website called Opus Touch (URL:, you can enjoy 0% sales charge and 0% repurchase charge, which means that 100% of your money will be utilized to buy the fund, and none will be gone as sales commission.

The self-service Opus Touch website is pretty straight forwards to use. It can be accessed either from the web browser of your handphone, tablet or computer. It works flawlessly with Google Chrome.

It seems like Opus Touch does not have a mobile app yet, and can only be accessed with web browser. Hopefully in the near future, they can come out with Opus Touch mobile apps for easier use from handphone.

You can open your master account there with an initial investment in IPF of at least RM1,000. Once your master account is successfully opened, you can invest in any of the 3 available funds there.

You can also perform up to 4 times of fund switching per year for free, after that there will be a charge of RM25 per switching of fund.

Note that there are annual management fee and annual trustee fee, accrued on a daily basis. Their rate is pretty low compared with other unit trust funds in the market:
  • IPF: mgmt. fee <= 0.85%, trustee fee <= 0.025% or min RM12k
  • MPF: mgmt. fee <= 0.35%, trustee fee <= 0.025% or min RM12k
  • SIPF: mgmt. fee <= 0.85%, trustee fee <= 0.025% or min RM12k
As such, the total fees per annum is less than 1% for all of the 3 funds above.

One of the thing I like about Opus Touch is that you can invest by using either Boost e-wallet or FPX (bank transfer).

By investing with Boost, you can also enjoy Boost rewards such as the shake rewards, mission rewards, etc.

In addition, if you run Boost from ShopBack app, you can also earn some ShopBack cashback.

In addition, you can top up your money in Boost to be used for Opus unit trust investment from BigPay, which in turn topped up using your credit card.

As such, you can get multiple tiers of rewards by investing Opus unit trust online with Opus Touch, including:
  • Credit card cashback or points
  • BigPay BIG Points
  • ShopBack cashback
  • Boost rewards
  • Unit trust returns
Happy investing!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Instruction manual for Xiaomi Redme AirDots TWSEJ04LS true wireless earbuds

The Xiaomi Redme AirDots TWSEJ04LS true wireless earbuds looks very identical to its cousin Xiami Mi AirDots Basic TWSEJ02LM.

The key different between them is that Xiaomi Redme AirDots has a large physical button on each of the earpieces, while the Xiami Mi AirDots Basic is using touch sensitive surface instead of physical buttons on its earpieces.

The Xiaomi Redme AirDots TWSEJ04LS features a 7.2mm dynamic driver, Bluetooth 5.0 support, and IPX4 rated waterproofing.

Despite selling at a very affordable price, its sound quality is pretty much satisfactory. It is able to produce strong punching bass, energetic treble, and lively vocal.

Before using the product after unboxing, remember to remove all the plastic films and stickers on the earpieces. The plastic films are isolating the earpieces from getting power charge, and need to be completely removed to ensure you can re-charge their built-in battery properly.

The casing itself is also a charging dock for the earpieces. You can find a USB port at its outer surface for charging purpose.

To re-charge the earpieces, put them in place inside the casing, close the cap, then connect the casing to a USB charging source.

When charging, you can observe a dim LED light in front of the casing. The LED is red when charging, and turns into white when fully charged. The white light will automatically turn off itself after 1 minute.

Using the earbuds:

To use the earpiece,  press its button for 1 second to turn it on (white LED on the earpiece will light up).

To turn off the earpiece, press its button for 5 seconds (red LED will light up for a while).

Use your handphone's Bluetooth function to search for Redmi AirDots_R to do pairing. No pairing password is needed.

You can use the earpiece either in left ear only, or in right ear only, or in both ears. When both are used, you can get stereo sound effect. If only one of them is used, it will be running on mono mode.

Resetting the earbuds:

If you find anything not functioning well, you can try resolve the problem by resetting the earbuds.

First of all, take out both the earbuds from the casing, and then proceed to turn them off.

After that, press the earbuds button for 15 seconds respectively. When you see the earbud's LED is alternating between red and white, put it back into the casing. It will then be reset and all previous settings will be restored to factory default.

You will need to redo the Bluetooth pairing with your handphone before it can be used again.

Features and functions:
When there is incoming phone call:
  • Press the earbud's button once to answer the call
  • Long press the button for 1 second to reject the call
  • Double press to toggle between mute and voice
  • When in a call, press the button once to hang up the call
When there is another call coming in while you are already on a phone call:
  • Press the button once to answer the other call, and put the first call on hold
  • Long press to reject the second call
  • Double press to switch between the 2 calls
To listen to music played from your handphone, when not in any call:
  • Press the button once to listen to music with the phone's default music player
  • Press again to pause the music

To call up the handphone's virtual assistant, when not in any call:
  • Double press the button to call up virtual assistant (Siri, Google Voice Assistant, Xiaomi XiaoAi, ...). After that, you can issue command to your phone by talking to the virtual assistant. For example, you can ask it to open up Google Maps and guide you to a destination. You can use the earbuds to listen to the turn-by-turn driving instruction with voice navigation.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

U Mobile GoPayz e-wallet with virtual and/or physical prepaid cards

GoPayz is a challenger e-wallet operated by U Mobile Services. It is a second e-wallet in Malaysia after AirAsia BigPay that issues physical prepaid card to its users. It is the third of its kind in Malaysia that issues virtual prepaid card, after BigPay (Mastercard) and Boost (UnionPay).

In fact, GoPayz has gone one step ahead of BigPay, which only issue virtual and physical prepaid Mastercard to their users. GoPayz accounts by default have 3 virtual prepaid cards, namely UnionPay, Mastercard and Visa.

On top of that, its users have the option to also carry physical prepaid card(s) with a one time card issuance fee of RM16 per card. There is no annual fee nor yearly SST to keep the GoPayz physical card.

Unlike BigPay which  has a large stored-value capacity of up to RM10,000, this GoPayz e-wallet only has a capacity of RM5,000 for its Premium Wallet Accounts (RM200 for Basic Wallet Accounts). The capacity limit is shared among all the UnionPay, Mastercard and Visa prepaid cards.

With a physical card on hand, you can use GoPayz to pay to merchants that accept UnionPay/Mastercard/Visa at their outlets. Another advantage is that you can withdraw cash from your e-wallet at local banks ATM machine, with a very low cash withdrawal fee of RM1.00 only. You can also withdraw from overseas ATM machine, with the cash withdrawal fee of RM10.00. This rate is in fact cheaper than rival BigPay Mastercard.

Beside being yet another e-wallet just like the others in the market, GoPayz seems to have ambition to disrupt the traditional financial services, including the insurance market, unit trust market, and even foreign currency exchange market.

GoPayz introduces self-service financial services for its users to buy insurance and/or unit trust at a very affordable rate, by eliminating the agent commission and reducing the administrative expenses involved. It works together with licensed life insurance company Sun Life, general insurance company Chubb, and online unit trust company FundSupermart Malaysia to come out with its financial services products.

Should their self-service financial services business model be successful, it will affect the insurance agents and unit trust agents who make their living through sales commission. We can foresee that the sales commission rate might be significantly reduced in order to compete with market disruptors such as GoPayz financial services.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

KERUI biometric fingerprint padlock

Traditional padlocks typically work by unlocking using a matching key or password.

The drawbacks of a key padlock including:

  • It is inconvenient to have to carry the key along with you.
  • If you forgot to bring the key, or your key is lost, then you will have trouble unlocking the padlock.
  • If your key is broken, you will also have trouble unlocking the padlock.
  • The key can be easily duplicated.
  • The padlock can be prey open without using the key.
  • It takes quite some effort and time to unlock the padlock.
The drawbacks of a password padlock including:
  • Password can be forgotten, especially when long time not using.
  • It takes quite some effort and time to unlock the padlock.
Now, with a cost of less than RM50, you can actually get a biometric fingerprint padlock from online shop.

The biometric fingerprint padlock just looks like other ordinary padlocks. The different parts are that it has a fingerprint scanner on it, it operates with a rechargeable Li-ion battery inside, and it has a micro-USB charging port.

The padlock also has a small triple-colour LED indicator light. When the battery level is low, the light will be flashing in red. When the battery level is extremely low, it will also produce beeping sound to provide alert for recharging need.

When charging, the LED light stays in red. When recharging is completed, the light will turn off by itself.

The padlock has a standby time of at least a few months before the need of recharging again. It can go through up to 9,000 times of unlock cycle for a full charge.

This padlock can register up to 10 fingerprints. 2 of them will be "administrator" fingerprint which can be used to initiate registering of new fingerprints and also to delete stored fingerprints. The other 8 normal fingerprints can only be used to unlock the padlock.

For new lock without any stored fingerprint, it can be unlocked with any human fingerprint. Once registered with one or more fingerprints, only the registered fingerprint(s) can be used to unlock it.

One thing I like about this padlock is its super fast unlocking speed of less than a second with matching fingerprint.

By using this biometric fingerprint padlock, I no longer need to carry padlock key or remember padlock password. It is really very convenient and easy to use.

Hint: Click on the "Older Posts" link to continue reading, or click here for a listing of all my past 3 months articles.