Yap Leng Kuen Series | MV Goes Digital.

Digital transformation for MV Marketing.

The courage that Daniel Tan, founder of MV Marketing, had when he started selling credit cards at the peak of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, is being tested now.

With this unprecedented Covid-19 crisis, sales of credit cards which had contributed 60% to revenue, has plunged to zero.

But he expects things to recover in three months’ time, digging into reserves to keep his company and full time staff of 200, afloat.

“We are reviewing our options including redeployment of our resources to other businesses as the MCO does not allow us to conduct credit card sales through the normal mall promotion counters anymore.

“We will probably achieve half of our usual productivity for the next two months, and hope for full recovery after the third month,’’ said Tan

Daniel Tan, Founder MV Marketing.

Post Covid-19, the company, which acts as a third party agency for the sale of credit cards, will be moving into a new phase of digital sales.

The company is in talks with its bank partners to allow non-face to face Know Your Customer (KYC) and digital capture of documents.

Another business division of signing up merchants for e-wallet acceptance, is seeing better days.

Post Covid-19, retailers will be more likely to accept e-money in view of the new normal, where consumers will try to minimise the use of hard cash.

With this transformation , different skill sets that are required may lead to some consolidation and redeployment of staff.

“To be fair to the shareholders, if we cannot sustain the staff for more than three months, we will have to let them go,’’ he said.

Looking back, Tan felt that it was his youth and innocence that made him just dive into the credit card business just when the 1997 crisis hit the financial institutions.  

“Being barely three years in operating other businesses, and without much reserves, I just had to trust my guts, do my best and hope the storm will clear.

“Fortunately, the crisis was short-lived and within six months, we could smell the roses again,’’ he said.

Then came the dotcom bust in the late 1990s, and the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

“From every crisis, we came out stronger. We learned to be prudent in managing cashflow, and take care of our best people,’’ said Tan.

Since then, the company has diversified into other recession proof products like insurance and wealth management.

MV Marketing has been profitable even during crises by managing its profit and loss well, and keeping its management structure lean.

Tan sees his forte in managing sales channels. After graduation, he worked for American Express for seven years, then he started a management company offering accountancy services, and later, a training company.

Emerging from two crises, he faced a more challenging business environment which has become more regulated, with compliance now a major issue.

On top of that, this pandemic adds another layer of complexity. “It is a health issue and we are in unchartered waters, globally,’’ he said.

But past crises has taught him that human beings are survivors. “We need to plough on and hang in there.’’

Yap Leng Kuen had a respected career as a senior business editor and widely read columnist speaking plainly, for the leading local newspaper. She continues to write Plain Speaking for The Star Online.

I am delighted to share her view points and insights, here.

More Stories by Yap Leng Kuen.

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