GRAZIA Game Changers: Caecilia Chu On Gender Equality In The Fintech Space

"We are seeing a bigger spotlight put on industry’s female leaders to lead by example for young aspiring women, and more flexible workplace arrangements being put in place to support working mothers."
As co-founder and CEO of YouTrip, Caecilia Chu is revolutionising the fintech industry with an innovative multi-currency travel e-wallet
Caecilia Chu wears a dress and earring from Bottega Veneta, and her own ring

The GRAZIA Game Changers initiative recognises the people who have been creating meaningful impact in Singapore and throughout Asia. This year, in celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we invited the honorees from our inaugural edition to pass the torch to a new class of talented and spirited individuals. Meet Caecilia Chu, the co-founder and CEO of YouTrip who is revolutionising the fintech industry with an innovative multi-currency travel e-wallet.

What does the term “game changer” mean to you?
Caecilia Chu (CC):
To me, being a “game changer” means transforming the status quo for the better and building innovative solutions. My mission at YouTrip is to reshape the future of financial services to be more fair, transparent, and accessible.

How did you discover your purpose in life?
I come from a modest background and my family used to live paycheck to paycheck. I remember when I was five and my father was getting a bank loan to start a business. He was unsuccessful after knocking on so many doors, so I grew up with the worldview that every mass market consumer is underserved, whether they are banked or not. When the opportunity came to create YouTrip, I realised this journey is my life mission. It is to make financial services truly fair, accessible and transparent. Most importantly, whether someone has money or not, we treat them all the same with the best product and pricing, always.

What are the qualities that you most value in people? How do you embody them yourself?
The quality I value most in a person is courage. It means that you give your best, and do things with all your strength and all your heart even when the outcome is completely uncertain. I think the YouTrip journey is one such endeavour for me. I hope that when people look at the past five years of what we have achieved, including being the pioneer in launching a multi-currency wallet, emerging strong from the pandemic and continuing to grow into new lines of business, people will think that I have courage.

How would you say you’ve played your part to be a game changer in the industry you’re in?
It has also been extremely rewarding to guide others to realise their potential, as I have been fortunate to have been uplifted and supported by fellow women and peers in tech. Being one of the female leaders in the male-dominated fintech industry, I see it as my responsibility to continue raising female representation in tech. Recognising the gender disparity that persists in the fintech and technology fields, I hope to be an inspiration for young women aspiring to pursue their passion in these industries alongside other brilliant female leaders.

What have been the highlights and major challenges of that journey? How did you overcome each hurdle?
Navigating through the pandemic was a big test for the company. Being able to lead YouTrip through COVID-19 and transforming it into an all-weather company was one of the most challenging yet rewarding accomplishments in my entrepreneurial journey. I remember how, during the pandemic, we discovered a group of power users who kept using our card to make payments when they were all based locally without any chance of travelling. And when we gave them a call, we realised these are all business owners who have been using YouTrip to pay for their online and overseas expenses. It was an “ah-ha” moment for us. We had a massive and untapped SME payments opportunity right in front of us, and so we dove right in to build a completely new business platform from scratch, which is now YouBiz.

What are some changes you’d like to see in your industry and how would you see your role in influencing them?
I hope that by being a role model and using my voice as a woman in fintech, I can help to empower more women to dare to dream big and strive for what they want. Together, we can build a more inclusive society where everyone is able to contribute based on their capabilities, strengths and experiences. I am optimistic that the future holds promise for greater inclusivity and opportunities for women to thrive if we continue to do that.

The financial services sector has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, and it’s encouraging to see that there are more dialogues and initiatives in the industry over the years. We at YouTrip have achieved a 50/50 gender-balanced workforce. We are seeing a bigger spotlight put on industry’s female leaders to lead by example for young aspiring women, and more flexible workplace arrangements being put in place to support working mothers. However, we are far from the finishing line.

What keeps you motivated and passionate about what you do?
YouTrip and YouBiz users, and their feedback! I started YouTrip to provide everyday users with an easy-to-use, fair, and accessible payment experience. Our individual and corporate users continue to drive our passion and dedication as we innovate and launch new offerings and solutions to help them save money and time as they make foreign currency payments.

What is the most valuable piece of advice or life lesson that you’ve learned?
I strongly believe that everything is possible; and everyone can do anything when they put their minds to it. That’s especially true in the fintech industry, where technology is a great equaliser. What matters most is creating a product or service that brings a positive impact to the world–the creator’s background or gender shouldn’t matter at all.

What do you hope people take away from your journey as a game changer?
The message of YouTrip’s story is never stop believing. I hope that my story can inspire them to keep going, find courage and uncover their purpose when they face some of the toughest challenges in their journey.