The Southeast Asian fintech startup has been a dynamic landscape, with countries like China, India, Singapore, and Indonesia emerging as fintech hubs, each with unique strengths and focus areas. Besides, governments across Asia actively work on fintech regulations to balance innovation and consumer protection. In 2023, the industry attracted substantial investments, with strong financial inclusion and blockchain technology gaining acceptance in some countries.
We delve into fintech developments with the top 10 investment stories that have empowered startups across Southeast Asia to pave the way for a more inclusive and technologically advanced financial future.
Singapore’s Bunker Raised US$5 M to Expand Financial Analytics Platform in the Region
In July this year, Bunker, a Singapore-based financial analytics platform, secured over US$5 million in pre-seed and seed funding. This investment came from a consortium of regional investors, including Northstar Group, Alpine Ventures, Patamar Capital, and January Capital. GFC, Money Forward, Alpine Ventures, Patamar Capital, and nine angel investors also contributed to the funding round.
Bunker’s is designed to offer executives comprehensive financial visibility, effectively transforming overlooked entries within general ledgers into actionable insights. With the new investment, Bunker will invest capital in its innovation and expand regional operations.
Orderfaz Secured Pre-Seed Funding for Indonesian Social Commerce Fintech
In another July deal, Indonesian fintech startup Orderfaz concluded an undisclosed pre-seed funding round. This funding round was led by the Singapore-based venture capital firm 1982 Ventures, the sole investor.
Established as a recently launched fintech startup, Orderfaz has been catering to the requirements of social commerce sellers within Indonesia. Since its soft launch in March 2023, the company has rapidly gained ground in the Indonesian market.
Orderfaz’s platform offers a seamless browsing experience through a convenient browser plug-in, streamlining the purchasing process for sellers with its one-click checkout feature. Additionally, it equips sellers with a robust fraud mitigation strategy by meticulously tracking the purchase history of authenticated buyers.
Sunrate Secured Series D-1 Funding for Global Payment Expansion
In June, Singapore-based digital payment platform Sunrate revealed the successful closure of its Series D-1 funding round. The funding round was led by Prosperity7 Ventures, a growth fund affiliated with Aramco Ventures, and saw additional investments from SoftBank Ventures Asia.
Sunrate has established itself as a smart global payment and treasury management platform provider, offering businesses a means to streamline their B2B payments and financial operations efficiently.
The company’s extensive network and robust APIs help companies navigate and expand their operations seamlessly, locally and globally, across more than 150 countries.
Singapore’s Utu Expands Reach with CardsPal Acquisition in Tax-Free Shopping Sector
Singapore-based travel tech company Utu raised 33 million in a Series B funding round, with SC Ventures leading the investment efforts in June this year. Utu recently acquired CardsPal, a Singapore-based fintech firm renowned for its specialization in localized deals and promotions.
The travel sector has seen limited venture funding in recent years, primarily centered around short-term rent and cardinal hospitality. Utu’s mission is to reimagine the tax-free shopping experience, offering tourists a streamlined process for reclaiming Value Added Tax (VAT) on their purchases while enhancing their shopping journey.
With the introduction of Utu’s Tax-Free Card, customers are presented with two compelling choices: they can opt for frequent flyer miles or hotel points as an alternative to traditional VAT refunds, or they can select an immediate store voucher equivalent to 120% of the VAT, or GST paid while shopping abroad.
Finfra Investment Fueled Indonesian Embedded Finance Expansion
Indonesian startup Finfra secured $1 million in new funding in late June. The funding round attracted participation from investors, including DSX Ventures, Seedstars International Ventures, Cento Ventures, Fintech Nation, FirstPick, BADideas Fund, and Hustle Fund.
The company invests the infused capital into product development and enhancing Finfra’s engineering, data, and finance teams.
Finfra, stemming from its roots as Danabijak, a successful consumer financial services provider, will continue to operate as a subsidiary. Finfra aims to deliver the essential technological infrastructure that empowers online businesses to offer embedded finance products. The newly acquired funds are expected to fuel the company’s ongoing efforts in product development and talent acquisition, allowing it to serve the dynamic demands of the market better.
Pepper Group Expands into Indian Fintech Landscape with $150 Million investment
On June 12, 2023, Pepper Group, a global consumer finance company, unveiled its ambitious plan to venture into the Indian market with the launch of a fintech startup operating under the banner of Pepper Money. Pepper Group pledged an investment of $150 million over the next four years, focusing on the largely untapped potential of smaller cities in India.
Pepper Money aspires to redefine the landscape of consumer finance, with a strategic emphasis on Tier 2 and 3 cities. Leveraging India’s remarkable economic growth and a tech-savvy, youthful population, the company envisions a transformative impact on the country’s financial landscape.
VentureTECH SBI and VentureTECH Invest $2.4 Million in Bayo Pay to Fuel Fintech Growth in Malaysia
June saw many notable fintech investments. VentureTECH SBI and VentureTECH joined forces collectively, investing $2.4 million into Bayo Pay, a licensed Mastercard Non-Bank E-Money Issuer. This funding initiative, spearheaded by VentureTECH SBI, was designed to accelerate the expansion of Bayo Pay’s core operations while fortifying its B2B2X label Digital Payment-as-a-Service solutions.
Bayo Pay has positioned itself as a provider of comprehensive digital payment solutions catering to SMEs and corporate entities. Its innovative B2B2X model empowers clients by granting access to its proprietary technology, enabling them to create scalable private-label payment solutions.
SkorLife Secured Seed Funding to Promote Financial Literacy in Indonesia
Indonesian fintech startup SkorLife raised $4 million in a Seed funding round in May. This financing round was anchored by the global tech investor Hummingbird Ventures, with participation from QED Investors. Existing investors AC Ventures and Saison Capital also joined forces to support the startup’s vision.
SkorLife has emerged as a pioneering credit builder in Indonesia, co-founded by Ongki Kurniawan and Karan Khetan. The company introduces an innovative approach that allows individuals to access their credit scores from the nation’s credit bureaus and gain valuable insights and tips to enhance their creditworthiness, ultimately enabling them to access better credit opportunities.
Advance Secured Pre-Series A Funding to Enhance Financial Access in the Philippines and Vietnam
On March 29, 2023, Filipino fintech company Advance raised US$16 million in a pre-Series A funding round. Prominent investors spearheaded this funding endeavor Do Ventures and Lendable, with the active participation of new investors Phoenix Holdings, Kaya Founders, Foxmont Capital, Oyster Ventures, and Crossocean Ventures. Additionally, existing investors supported the startup’s vision, including Wavemaker Partners, Next Billion Ventures, Integra Partners, and Accion Venture Lab.
Advance is dedicated to facilitating easier access to essential financial services while expanding its outreach to underserved regions. Since its inception in 2018, the startup has been instrumental in offering salary advances and other financial services to underserved employees in the Philippines, a country where almost half of the population remains unbanked.
With this latest funding infusion, Advance plans to introduce a range of innovative financial products and extend its services to additional partners in both the Philippines and Vietnam.
Alchemy Pay Gets Investment to Fuel Cryptocurrency-Fiat Integration in Korea
On April 4, 2023, Singapore-based payment gateway Alchemy Pay secured $10 million in funding from DWF Labs, a prominent multi-stage web3 investment firm. This strategic investment aimed to strengthen Alchemy Pay’s payment business expansion efforts in Korea, capitalizing on the region’s growing cryptocurrency acceptance and supporting Korean enterprises in their pursuit of internationalization.
During the funding phase, Alchemy Pay garnered an estimated valuation of $400 million, reflecting its growing influence in the cryptocurrency-fiat integration sphere.
Alchemy Pay has an extensive partnership roster that includes industry giants like Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and Diners Club, as well as mobile payment platforms such as Google Pay and Apple Pay, alongside regional mobile wallets and domestic transfer options.
The company extends beyond traditional credit cards, encompassing over 300 local alternative payment channels. Alchemy Pay has also introduced the innovative NFT Checkout service, which streamlines the acquisition of NFTs using fiat payment options, aligning it with standard online payment processes.
In conclusion, 2023 has been pivotal for fintech startups across Southeast Asia, marking a phase of rapid growth and innovation. With this, the future of the fintech startup scene in Asia holds significant promise, characterized by continued growth, a focus on financial inclusion, and innovations in payments, lending, and credit services.