LSE student: "I founded a FinTech at age 16 to help promote financial inclusion"

Work hard but play hard too – strive for excellence, but also remember to relish the joys of life.
Manas Goyal 747 x 560
LSE student Manas Goyal on campus

Undergraduate student Manas Goyal created a banking app at just 16-years-old after noticing a gap in the market. He discusses the inspiration behind his success and his tips for launching a start-up.

Manas Goyal, now an LSE Accounting and Finance student, first decided to create a banking app during his holidays in Southeast Asia. While travelling around the region with his parents, Manas, originally from Berlin, Germany, noticed that many people used multiple bank accounts to manage their money.

"During my travels, I observed that people typically managed around four bank accounts, a stark contrast to the one or two accounts commonly used in countries like Germany and the UK. Additionally, I noticed that limited phone storage often hindered the use of multiple banking apps. This led me to identify a market need for a solution leveraging Open Banking Application Programming Interface that would enable users to manage multiple accounts seamlessly from a single platform," says Manas, now 22.

Creating a FinTech

After spotting this problem and identifying a solution, Manas set out to make it a reality. At 16, during his summer break, Manas embarked on a self-learning journey, teaching himself Java using a programming textbook. This dedication culminated into the creation of the AllAsia Net Banking app.

While initially onboarding banks to his app proved to be a challenge, Manas’ negotiation skills allowed him to secure their participation. In a matter of days, the app had 2000 users and soon boasted over half a million daily users and a million downloads. It became a hub for online banking, providing a unified platform for managing accounts from over 100 different banks across Southeast Asia.

"My primary objective was to promote financial inclusion and mitigate the stark differences between banking practices in developed nations like the UK and Germany, and those in emerging markets," says Manas.

He emphasises the lack of financial safeguards for bank customers in these countries, highlighting a pressing need for change and his desire to positively contribute to society. "In many parts of Asia, bank deposits aren't always guaranteed. So, if a bank collapses, you could lose your savings," Manas clarifies. "That's why many people prefer to diversify their money across various accounts for added security."

Four years into the successful launch of his app and after winning a Google Make in Asia Award in 2017, Manas made the strategic decision to sell the app during his first year at LSE where his studies took precedence.

In testament to his experience, Manas was invited by LSE Generate, the School’s hub for entrepreneurship, to take part in a delegation to Rwanda, as it is set to become Africa’s Tech Hub.

Central Bank Digital Currencies research

Alongside his work on the app, Manas conducted research, originally for a school project, on digital currencies for central banks. Feeling his findings could be useful for the banking sector and wanting to make the most of the opportunity, he sent his findings to central banks worldwide. This led to an invitation from the President of Egypt to present his findings at the World Youth Forum on Central Bank Digital Currency in Sharm el-Sheikh in 2019.

“It was very intimidating at first,” laughs Manas. “I was 18-years-old and flying to Egypt alone for this big international conference but to be surrounded by 3000 people and to be able to share my research with them was very rewarding. I think people from over 100 different countries attended, which reaffirmed my desire to pursue studies in a highly international environment, a factor that made LSE an irresistible choice.”

Manas’ dedication will also see him attend the German Finance Symposium, “Future of Finance“, in Germany in June this year (2023) after receiving an invitation from the German Finance Minister, Christian Lindner.

Charting the course ahead

Although he sold his app, it is unlikely this will stop Manas’ entrepreneurial spirit. Upon concluding his undergrad at LSE this summer, Manas is due to pursue a master's degree at MIT in 2024, including Harvard.

He plans to take a gap year to gain hands-on experience through internships (he interned with BlackRock and the Boston Consulting Group last summer) and think about his next steps in corporate finance.

He would also consider undertaking another FinTech venture. However, he emphasises the need for the right idea and mindset to embark on such a journey. He hopes to pour his experiences from LSE and his corporate strategy and financial modelling internships into any new initiative.

With financial inclusion still at the forefront, Manas also plans to spend the next year doing research into Mergers and Acquisition activities and the disparities between the valuation methodologies applied to firms in emerging markets and those in developed economies.

For any school or university students wanting to start their own business and put an idea they’ve had into practice – Manas says go for it! “Never let anyone put you off your dreams” he says advising the best approach is to “work hard but play hard too – strive for excellence, but also remember to relish the joys of life, such as spending quality time with loved ones.”