Singapore Fintech Unicorn Startups: Past, Present, and Future

Singapore Fintech Unicorn Startups: Past, Present, and Future

by August 23, 2021
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Singapore was recently ranked the fourth-best country globally for unicorn startups by Money.co.uk, a financial research website, which reported that it takes an average of 6 years and 11 months for Singapore’s unicorns to reach a valuation of US$1 billion. The island nation tied with the United States and Australia at the fourth place, and they came in after China, which took the lead, followed by Hong Kong and Japan.

The term ‘unicorn company’ was first coined by Aileen Lee, a venture capitalist in 2013 and is used to describe a privately held startup company with a value of over US$1 billion. The term was introduced in Lee’s article titled, ‘Welcome to the Unicorn Club: Learning from Billion-Dollar Startups.’ Because startups that manage to reach the US$1 billion mark are so rare, the term ‘unicorn’ was used to describe it, after the fabled mythical creature.

As of August 2021, data from CB Insights showed that there are more than 700 unicorn companies in the world. With that, let’s take a look at Singapore’s unicorn companies: from the past, present, and aspiring unicorns of the future.

Past Unicorns

Grab

Grab, which was founded in 2012 as a taxi-hailing company before expanding into other services such as food delivery and financial services, became a unicorn in 2014, and has now graduated to the exclusive ‘decacorn’ status. The term ‘decacorn’ is given to startups with a valuation of more than US$10 billion. Presently, Grab is preparing for listing its shares in the U.S. in a deal that would push its valuation to US$40 billion.



 

SEA (Formerly known as Garena)

Sea moved on from being a unicorn in 2017 upon listing its initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange. It is a consumer internet company with businesses focused on three areas, which are digital entertainment (Garena), electronic commerce (Shopee), and digital financial services (SeaMoney). SeaMoney offers e-wallet services, payment processing, credit, and related digital financial services and products. Their latest funding was via a post-IPO equity round amounting to US$1.4 billion.

Singapore Fintech Unicorn - SEA Group, Sea Money

Source: Crunchbase

Razer

Founded in 2005, Razer is a technology company dealing in consumer electronics, gaming hardware and financial services. In total, Razer has raised US$200 million in funding over four rounds. It exited its unicorn status in 2017 when it was officially listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and it raised US$500 million at its IPO.

Singapore Fintech Unicorn - Razer Fintech

Source: Crunchbase

Present Unicorns – Fintech

The below list covers some of the notable companies that achieved the highly coveted unicorn status from 2019 to 2021 and is presently listed on CB Insights as of August 2021.

Nium

In July 2021, Nium achieved its unicorn status after it raised more than US$200 million in a Series D round led by Riverwood Capital. Nium, a global payments platform that was founded in 2015, is the first business-to-business (B2B) payments unicorn from Southeast Asia. It plans to use the funds to build its payments infrastructure even further by expanding its technical platform and adding new embedded fintech services. It also aims to pursue an IPO in the U.S. in 18 to 24 months as well as a secondary listing in Singapore. In total, Nium has raised a total of US$280 million in funding over 7 rounds.

Carro

Founded in 2015, Carro is an online platform for buying and selling used cars. The Singapore-based company successfully made it to the unicorn club in June 2021 through a US$360 million funding round. Despite its relatively new placement among the unicorns, Carro envisions itself making it to the prestigious decacorn club in the next few years, according to Aaron Tan, the co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Carro. The company has also dipped its toes in the fintech world by offering car loans and insurance via its in-house financing arm, Genie Financial Services.

Matrixport

Matrixport, which became a unicorn in June 2021, is a digital assets financial services platform that enables its users to invest, trade, and leverage crypto assets. As of August 2021, Matrixport, which was founded in 2019, reports US$5 billion in monthly trading volume and US$10 billion in assets under management and custody. To date, the company has raised a total of US$100 million in funding over two rounds.

Moglix 

Moglix, which was founded in 2015, is an e-commerce company for business supplies and industrial equipment that is headquartered in Singapore. Their latest funding amounting to US$120 million was through a Series E round in May 2021. In total, Moglix has successfully raised US$222.2 million in funding over 7 rounds. The company achieved the coveted unicorn status in May 2021. 

Moglix has also ventured into the supply chain financing space via its digital platform Credlix. It provides quick collateral-free working capital solutions exclusively to its suppliers, pan-India through its collaboration with banks. 

Present Unicorns – Non-Fintech

PatSnap

PatSnap is an innovation intelligence platform that provides intellectual property, and research and development intelligence, through artificial intelligence (AI) powered and machine learning technology. The company became a unicorn in March 2021, with its latest Series E funding of US$300 million. In total, the company has raised US$351.6 million in funding over six rounds. PatSnap, which is short for ‘patents in a snap’ was founded in 2007 and now has more than 800 employees and 10,000 customers including companies like Spotify Technology and Xiaomi Corp.

HyalRoute

HyalRoute is a provider of shared communications fibre network in Emerging Asia. Founded in 2015, the Singapore head-quartered company made it to the unicorn list in May 2020, when it raised US$263 million in funding via a corporate round.

Trax

Trax is a Singapore-headquartered technology company that provides in-store execution tools, market measurement services, and data science solutions for the retail sector. Its customers include popular consumer brands such as Coca-Cola, Nestle, and Unilever. The company, which was founded and incorporated in Singapore in 2010, achieved its unicorn status in July 2019.

Future Unicorns

So, what lies in the future? A 2019 report titled ‘e-Conomy SEA’ jointly produced by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Co, have identified several ‘aspiring unicorns’ from Singapore. Aspiring unicorns are companies that were then valued at between US$100 million and US$1billion and it is reported that aspiring unicorns in Southeast Asia drew about US$1.1 billion in funding in the first half of 2019.

Funding for SEA Aspiring Unicorns

Funding for SEA Aspiring Unicorns (US$B), Source: e-Conomy SEA

Although most of these Singaporean aspiring unicorns that were identified are not from the fintech sector, it is worth noting some of these companies listed:

  • Carousell, a consumer-to-consumer e-commerce marketplace
  • Zilingo, a fashion e-commerce platform
  • Property Guru, which specializes in real estate
  • One of its identified aspiring unicorns was Carro, which has since achieved its unicorn status in June 2021.

 

Featured image credit: Photo by Jeyakumaran Mayooresan on Unsplash 

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