Though the year has only just started, there have already been some major funding announcements in the fintech sector including in Asia – with Indonesia and other parts of South Asia seeing a particular boom. Though the world is still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, this has provided many fintechs with an opportunity to take advantage of the increased digitalisation, particularly in the payments space, with new fintechs even being founded last year in response.
Here are some of the top Asian funding rounds that have happened so far in 2021:
Grab Financial Group
Grab Financial Group (GFG), the fintech arm of Grab (a ride-hailing and food delivery app), has raised over $300 million in capital through its Series A investment round. The round was led by Hanwha Asset Management Co Ltd., a South Korea based asset management firm, with other investors including Arbor Ventures, Glourish Venture, GGV Capital and K3 Ventures.
Reuben Lai, Senior MD, Grab Financial Group, said: “We are at an inflection point in Southeast Asia, as the pandemic has accelerated the need for digital financial services that help us grow and protect our incomes. We are delighted to draw upon the expertise of top investors who know financial services and fintech well so that we can continue to build and open up access to affordable and transparent financial services for millions of underserved people and small businesses and make inroads into financial inclusion in the region.”
GFG was launched in 2018 and provides payments, lending, insurance and retail wealth management services. It has been fundraising since early 2020 and is on track to record $60 billion in total revenue by 2025, after seeing a 40% growth in 2020. The funds raised will be used to make investments in hiring new talent and expanding its product offerings in Southeast Asia; in particular, setting up a digital bank in Singapore backed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. The company was granted a licence alongside the ANT Group, as well as 2 others, and will be able to offer bank accounts, debit and credit cards and other services to their customers.
GajiGesa, a financial wellness company that offers Earned Wage Access and other services for Indonesian workers, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding. The round was co-led by Defy.vc and Quest Ventures, with other participants including GK Plug and Play, Next Billion Ventures, Alto Partners Multi-Family Office, Kanmo Group and strategic angel investors.
The company launched in October 2020 as a response to the large numbers of unbanked people in Indonesia, around 66% of the 260 million population. It was founded by husband and wife team Vidit Agrawal, Uber’s first employee in Asia, and Martyna Malinowska, who in the past led product development at Standard Chartered SC Ventures and alternative credit-scoring platform Lenddo EFL.
“These hardworking Indonesians had no fair or formal sources for easy access to capital. Further, the most common reason for borrowing was short-term liquidity issues,” Agrawal told TechCrunch. “But workers were forced to borrow either long-term, high ticket size loans or short-term loans with exorbitantly high-interest rates.”
During COVID-19, Agrawal said the start-up has “seen insatiable demand and support for GajiGesa’s EWA solution from employers. This is partly attributed to the various challenges employers are facing due to the effects of COVID-19, but our platform is designed to support employers and employees in the long-term. The value of EWA and the other services we offer is not limited to the pandemic.”
The Philippines’ Globe Fintech Innovations (Mynt), the fintech arm of Globe Telecom and operator of e-wallet service GCash, has raised $175 million in capital investment from ASP Philippines LP, a limited partnership fund managed by investment firm Bow Wave Capital Management. The funding will be used to grow financial inclusion and the digitisation of payments and financial services in the Philippines.
“This investment from Bow Wave is a validation of both what we have accomplished as well as the potential of GCash in unlocking digital services in the Philippines,” said Martha Sazon, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mynt. “The pandemic has acted as a catalyst in highlighting the importance of digital finance in society today and with this investment from Bow Wave, we look forward to further living out our vision of finance for all, enabling democratised access to payment and financial services to every Filipino.”
In 2020, GCash recorded a gross transaction value of over Php 1 trillion through online payments, bank cash-ins and money transfers. GCash has empowered over 33 million Filipinos with digital financial tools, including Digital payment options, which have been particularly sought after during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are further encouraged by the fact that Mynt’s momentum has continued, even as the country moved out of quarantine restrictions, suggesting a fundamental shift in our customers’ behaviour towards a cashless lifestyle. We are confident in Mynt’s future prospects as a unicorn in the Philippines,” said Ernest L. Cu, Chairman of the Board of Mynt.
Bibit, a robo-advisor app that helps to make investing more accessible in Indonesia, has raised $30 million in a round led by Sequoia Capital India. This funding is a growth round, comes after Bibit’s Series A funding that took place in 2019, bringing the total funding to $45 million. Returning investors include East Ventures, EV Growth, AC Ventures, as well as 500 start-ups.
Launched in 2019 by Investment platform Stockbit, over the past year Bibit has registered over one million first time investors, about 90% of which are millennials and first time investors. The app is designed to make it easier for investors to tailor their portfolio to their goals and risk profile.
“We believe that all Indonesians deserve a better future. Enabling people to participate in the capital market and helping them make the right investment is the way to achieve that,” said Sigit Kouwagam, Bibit CEO in a statement.
Indonesian online brokerage, Ajaib, secured 25 million in its series A round led by Li Ka-shings Horizons Ventures and Alpha JWC Ventures. The money will be used for the expansion of the companies technology structure, as well as the recruitment of new talent and generating new product offerings.
Established in 2018, Ajaib allows Indonesians to buy and sell stocks, ETFs and mutual funds, and aims to increase financial inclusion in the country through investment. Stock investment has a very low penetration rate in Indonesia, with around 1.6 capital market investors in the country (less than 1% of the population.) Inspired by similar companies, like Robinhood in the United States, it is a mobile-first stock trading platform, that requires no minimums when opening an account, allowing consumers to try investing with small amounts to learn about stock trading.