Taipei-based startup Gogolook, the developer of call-filtering app Whoscall, plans to accelerate its expansion in Japan after receiving funds from WIN Semiconductors Corp, company founder Jeff Kuo told Meet.
Whoscall identifies unknown callers and blocks unwanted calls, with users from Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, and Brazil.
Footing in Fukuoka
Based in Fukuoka, Japan, Gogolook's first wholly-owned overseas subsidiary will become operational soon this month (November), according to Kuo.
"The reason why we chose Fukuoka (as its headquarter for the Japanese market) is that the local government is actively seeking solutions for financial frauds," Kuo said in an interview with Meet .
Kuo said that the decision was also due to Fukuoka's important position in the Japanese market - it is one of the National Strategic Special Zones in the country. The municipal government of Fukuoka provides incentives for foreign startups who aim to tap into the local market, he added.
The primary business strategy is to earn consumer trust through collaborations with local governments, Kuo said, citing high entry barriers in Japan. Given this, Gogolook would focus on the Kyushu Region and expand its services to other parts of the country later, he noted.
Gogolook has been working with the government of Fukuoka for its three-phase Proof of Concept (POC) project. It already completed the first phase by launching advanced Whoscall services and conducting a survey of users' responses, according to the company.
Looking forward, Gogolook aims to continue optimizing its products in response to the emergence of new scams on social media and communication apps. "Maybe after three years, Whoscall will have very different solutions (for Japanese customers)," Kuo said.
Tapping opportunities in the FinTech sector
The fresh capital from WIN Semiconductors will also be used to develop financial technology (FinTech) products, based on the concept of inclusive finance, according to Gogolook.
In September, Gogolook announced its first FinTech product Roo, a platform for users to compare personal credit loans.
Through cooperation with six banks, the startup extends the application to its database and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to the product to avoid financial fraud. The six collaborative banks include Cathay, KGI, HSBC Taiwan, Citibank Taiwan, Standard Chartered and O-Bank, according to Roo's website.
Gogolook said the product could help users, especially those who lack sufficient knowledge, identify their best loan options and alternatives. The platform, which has been in trial operation since March, also provides online person-to-person consulting services.
The startup aims to create "an ecosystem based on trust" through innovative and user-centric designs, Kuo said in another interview.
Whoscall currently has over 1.6 billion entries in its database of number information, the largest of its kind in East Asia. The app has accumulated over 80 million downloads worldwide since its launch, according to the startup's Chinese-language website.
The latest cash injection came after Gogolook last year (2019) secured an undisclosed sum in investment from Cathay Sustainable Private Equity Fund in return for a 30 percent stake.