The Aryan Lunch

by OrtusClub on 20th December 2018

The Aryan Lunch

May 23, 2018


In May of 2018, The Ortus Club brought together CFOs and Heads of Finance from prominent firms in Singapore to discuss, debate and share experiences on the use of corporate cards within their companies. The lunch was hosted by VISA, a global payments technology company working to enable consumers, businesses, banks and governments to use digital currency.

As technology evolves and individuals become accustomed to cashless payments, the use of corporate cards continues to grow in popularity, especially within multinationals. Yet, despite its benefits, a lot of companies only issue corporate cards to top management. The discussion was guided by the following questions:

  • What percentage of employees in Singapore is issued corporate cards?
  • What kind of payments are corporate cards mostly used for?
  • How long does it take companies to consolidate a full set of cash flow analytics?


When participants of The Aryan Lunch were asked how many employees within their respective companies are issued corporate cards, the majority responded that only their senior management was.


When asked which main use corporate cards hold, most participants indicated travel and entertainment with a minority, using it for small marketing and administrative transactions.


The Challenges

What is it about corporate credit cards that make them a part of risk management? Does the liability of unethical spending rest on the employee or the company? During the discussion, it was evident that despite how many people were issued corporate credit cards in their organization, most of them saw that it provided several benefits to their processes, though were ready to admit that it came with challenges as well. One particular participant was very adamant on their dislike for the practice of supplying corporate credit cards and the employees’ use of it. One of the challenges expressed was the large risk factor it came with. The risk of unethical spending and having to chase employees for payment is a real fear faced by several employers.

Another challenge is having to deal with the personal complaints of each employee about their corporate cards and the extent of the benefits they receive from it (i.e. points, credit limit…)

 “The more employees are issued a corporate card, the more responsibility has to be taken by CFOs to police people’s spending.”

The participant explained that despite the liability of the card resting on the employee when it comes to unethical spending, it still remains that largely, at the end of the day, it also rests on the shoulders of the employer.

The Benefits

Despite the challenges companies face when dealing with payment automation and the issuance of corporate credit cards, it does not take away from the fact that there are indeed significant benefits that come about when this practice is properly implemented.

“The advantages of using corporate cards outweigh the disadvantages as it quickens reimbursements and payment processes.”

One of the benefits talked about during the lunch was the data analytics that came with the use of corporate credit cards. One of the participants explained that with the use of these cards, the host keeps stock of every transaction, collecting usable data for the benefit of the employer. Through this data, decision makers can take note of trends in terms of spending for better cash visibility.

Another benefit offered by corporate cards is the credibility it gives employees who need it when traveling. When posed with the question of why a corporate card rather than a personal card, a participant expressed that throughout the organization, you have to be aware that not all employees are credible enough to purchase a business class ticket from Singapore to America, as an example. Providing them with such an alternative gives everyone the convenience of easy payment.


How long does it take your company to consolidate a full set of cash flow analytics regionally?

As the discussion progressed, participants touched upon the topic of how long it takes firms to consolidate a full set of cash flow analytics on a regional scale with 80% of participants confirming access to statistics being within 3 days.

This showed improvement compared to the results reflected on a study conducted by VISA in 2016, where only 34% said they received it within that same time period.

How long does it take to access received funds?

Another topic tackled during the discussion was the amount of time it takes decision makers to access received funds. From the survey presented to the participants, majority of them expressed that they are able to access it within 1-3 days, claiming that as time progresses, their environment allows for quicker and more efficient processing.

If you are an IT leader and interested in being part of the upcoming session, please do get in touch with the group admin, Jessica Circi at

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Ortus Round Table: The Future of China’s Innovation Hubs

by OrtusClub on 13th December 2017

Senior executives of the technology ecosystem and investment community in Shanghai gathered at the Nova Dinner, hosted by Savills, to discuss the future of Shanghai and other cities in China as innovation hubs.

Shanghai is clearly a global business hub and China’s financial capital. It’s growing base of digital media and entertainment companies, availability of educational programs and access to and capital tech infrastructure make Shanghai the front-runner in KPMG’s ranking of global innovation hubs. But when it comes to most metrics on entrepreneurship, Beijing is doing far better. Zhongguancun’s ecosystem of new ventures, tech giants, research universities and professional services firms has developed tacit knowledge and an entrepreneurial culture that is hard to replicate. What does this mean for Shanghai’s plans of becoming a global innovation hub?

Does Global Talent Matter?

With over 200,000 expats, Shanghai is positioned as a bridge between China and the rest of the world. The city’s strategic importance will grow as China strengthens its position as an economic powerhouse. But how much does an international workforce matter for innovation and entrepreneurship right now? Some guests at the Nova Dinner disagreed about the importance of global talent for entrepreneurship, pointing out that most startups’ focus is the domestic market.

While it is true that most startups in China right now focus on internal customers, the next natural step once the market is saturated will be international expansion. China is transitioning from a country that replicated technology to an exporter of ideas and patents, making Shanghai’s cosmopolitanism a valuable asset over the long-run. Exposure to foreign languages and cultures also makes locals in Shanghai able to scale up domestic ventures. A diverse environment and awareness about global trends certainly encourage creativity as well.

Forget Traditional VC Assumptions

In the American model of entrepreneurship, location is a big deal for funding. Startups from all over the country will put their staff in a plane bound to Silicon Valley or San Francisco. VCs prefer physical proximity with their portfolio companies as it facilitates supervision, while founders value the availability of advisors and collaborators. This is best exemplified by startup accelerators, which often require relocation. Under those assumptions, Beijing’s entrepreneurship ecosystem might come off as a direct threat to innovation in Shanghai, but there are reasons to believe things might be different for China in the next few decades.

To begin with, geographical proximity is generally less important now in all aspects of life. Silicon Valley developed as a tech hub in the late 20th century–before iPhones and WeChat existed. Better internal infrastructure in China makes business traveling easy and cheap. In addition, we are already seeing successful efforts to create entrepreneurship hubs all over China, suggesting it might not be a zero-sum competition between cities after all. A guest pointed out how medium-sized cities like Qingdao are successfully setting up incentives to attract startups. Chinese cities see a remarkable level of scientific collaboration, with Beijing and Shanghai having formed 382 bilateral institutional partnerships in 2016 according to Nature. Some guests claimed that VCs actually look for geographical diversification of their portfolio within China.


Attended by:

CEO at C&A Advisors China

Co-Founder at italki

Country Manager, China at Pivotal Software

Executive Director at CITIC Capital

Executive Director at J.P. Morgan Chase

Founder & CEO at 23Seed

Founder & CEO at Automobility

Founder & CEO at Withinlink

Founder & Managing Director at DRP Capital

General Partner at SOSV

Head of Corporate Banking at SPD-Silicon Valley Bank

Managing Director at JR Capital

Managing Director at Parkopedia

Managing Partner at China Materialia

Managing Partner at PurpleSky Capital

Partner at Chinaccelerator

Partner at TD Growth Capital

Hosted By:

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