Who Were The Top Funding Fintech Rounds in 2023 in Southeast Asia Beyond Singapore?by Fintech News Singapore February 8, 2024
When speaking of the fintech ecosystem, Singapore often receives the limelight due in part to its success in establishing itself as a regional fintech hub.
The same pattern emerges when looking at funding rounds. When you analyse the top funding rounds in South East Asia, more often than not you end up just looking at the top funded fintech startups in Singapore casting a large shadow over some of the well-deserving startups from other ASEAN countries that also deserve an equal amount of attention.
Venture capital (VC) investments into Southeast Asia’s fintech sector hit a five-year low in 2023, reaching a mere US$2 billion raised through 142 deals, a new report by startup data platform Tracxn shows.
Despite the plunge, Southeast Asian nations managed nevertheless to record notable rounds, with Singapore dominating the landscape through deals such as Bolttech’s US$246 million Series B, Aspire’s US$100 million Series C and Advance Intelligence Group’s US$80 million Series E.
Other nations including Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand also witnessed some noteworthy fintech VC rounds in 2023, paving the way for continued momentum in 2024 onwards. To get a sense of Southeast Asia’s up-and-coming fintech startups, we look today at the largest VC rounds of funding secured by young ventures in the region.
For this list, we’ve focused on private, independent fintech companies headquartered in ASEAN countries other than Singapore, focusing solely on private equity, and excluding subsidiaries of financial incumbents and joint ventures.
Investree – US$231 million (Series D, Indonesia)
Indonesian peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform Investree raised US$231 million in a Series D funding round in October 2023, the second largest VC funding round of the year in the region. The round was led by JTA International Holding in Qatar, with participation from Japanese financial conglomerate SBI Holdings.
Founded in 2015, Investree is a Jakarta-based alternative finance player. The company says it has disbursed IDR 14 trillion (US$900 million) worth of loans in Indonesia. The majority of these loans were disbursed to partners of agritech startup unicorn EFishery and Gayatri Microfinance. Besides Indonesia, Investree also operates in Thailand and the Philippines.
Investree previously shared that it will use the proceeds to expand its product offerings, strengthen partnerships with diverse collaborators and enhance its suite of innovative digital solutions tailored to the specific needs of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
As part of the deal, Investree and JTA also established a joint venture in Doha to serve as a hub for Investree’s Middle Eastern operations and provide digital lending services for SMEs in the region.
However, the disbursement of these funds has been delayed, raising concerns among investors about the future influx of this capital. The situation is further complicated by Investree’s struggle to cover operational costs and generate revenue.
This was further compounded by the departure of Investree’s high-profile CEO, Adrian Gunadi, following allegations of misconduct.
Investree has faced increasing scrutiny over its handling of bad loans, with its TKB90 success rate falling significantly below the industry average, prompting lawsuits from lenders and investigations by OJK.
In an effort to weather these challenges, Investree had reportedly secured a critical US$7 million rescue package from its existing investor SBI Holdings in a bid to swiftly complete a major restructuring plan.
Roojai Group – US$42 million (Series B, Thailand)
Thai insurtech startup Roojai announced in March 2023 a US$42 million Series B comprising a US$32 million direct injection and a US$10 million secondary share transaction. The round represents the third largest VC funding round in the region’s fintech sector secured last year.
Established in 2016, Roojai is a licensed insurance broker specializing in online insurance. Roojai’s business coverage includes Roojai Thailand, an authorized insurance broker providing various insurances spanning car insurance, critical illness, cancer, heart disease, personal accident and hospital cash plans; MrKumka, an online insurance comparison portal in Thailand; and Roojai Indonesia, which was launched in 2022 to provide car insurance, personal accident insurance and critical illness insurance in collaboration with local insurance company Sompo Indonesia.
Roojai is currently focusing on expanding its success in motor insurance across non-motor products. The company is also working on cementing its foothold in Indonesia and expanding across Southeast Asia, with an immediate focus on the Philippines. It’s also pursuing organic growth opportunities through mergers and acquisitions (M&A). In January, the startup announced the acquisition of Lifespan, an online insurance broker in Indonesia boasting 2 million monthly users.
Roojai claims strong growth during its fiscal year 2023, starting April 2022 to March 2023, collecting over THB 1.3 billion (US$36 million) in premiums. In addition to increasing premiums by 20%, customer numbers also grew by 15% at the end of fiscal year 2023, the startup says.
Soft Space – US$31.5 million (Series B1, Malaysia)
Malaysian payment services provider Soft Space secured in August 2023 a US$31.5 million Series B1 round, the fourth largest VC funding round raised by non-Singaporean Southeast Asian fintech startups in 2023. The round, which was led by Southern Capital Group (SCG), will be used to fuel the company’s continued growth and expansion, Soft Space said in a statement.
Founded in 2012, Soft Space is a leading softPOS player headquartered in Kuala Lumpur. The company offers a white-label e-wallet solution for partners to launch their own niched e-wallet to market segments. Soft Space aims to simplify the complexity of financial infrastructure and enable frictionless payments for customers in a simple and cost-effective manner.
Soft Space says that it has recorded strong growth in recent years with revenue almost doubling in the last two years. Now, Soft Space’s full-stack payment services are being used by more than 70 financial institutions and partners in Japan, Europe, Oceania and Americas.
BitKub – US$17.8 million (Growth Equity VC, Thailand)
Thai cryptocurrency exchange platform BitKub agreed in June 2023 to sell a 9.22% stake in the company to local game publisher Asphere Innovations for US$17.8 million, Tech in Asia reported, citing regulatory filings. The sale of shares will provide BitKub with additional capital to revamp its technology infrastructure and expand its digital asset services in Thailand, a country where over 6.2 million people owned crypto in 2022.
Founded in 2018, BitKub is a Thailand-based digital asset and crypto exchange platform that allows users to buy, sell, and store cryptocurrency assets. The company focuses on providing superior services to the general public to be able to trade and store digital assets. BitKub is said to be Thailand’s largest crypto exchange, boasting a market share of 75.4% with 2 million users. It claims it carries out more than 90% of Thailand’s crypto transactions and handles a daily trade value of US$25 million.
BitKub achieved unicorn status in November 2021 after it was announced that Thai bank SCBX would acquire the startup, a deal which was supported to value the 51% stake in the company at over US$500 million. The acquisition was eventually scrapped in 2022 due to regulatory issues after a due diligence exercise found numerous issues.
BitKub reported revenue of THB 2.85 billion (US$79.6 million) in 2022, down 48% from the previous year amid a crypto winter. The company’s profit declined by 86% during the same period to THB 341 million (US$9.5 million).
Advance Tech Lending – US$16 million (Pre-Series A, Philippines)
Filipino salary on-demand provider Advance Tech Lending secured in March 2023 US$16 million in a pre-Series A funding round, representing the 6th largest VC funding round of the year from a non-Singaporean fintech startup in Southeast Asia. Led by Do Ventures from Vietnam and Lendable, a technology-enabled investment and debt provider to fintech companies in emerging markets, the funding round will be used to introduce more innovative financial products and offer its services to more partners across the region, Advance Tech Lending said in a statement.
Along with the fresh funding, Advance Tech Lending announced that it has expanded into Vietnam with the acquisition of BravoHr, a Vietnam-based platform that provides digital solutions for employee engagement, benefits, and rewards. BravoHr’s key clients include some of the biggest global brands like McDonalds, L’Oreal, and AstraZeneca.
Founded in 2018 and headquartered in Manila, Advance Tech Lending claims it is the first salary on-demand provider in the Philippines, providing short-term, multipurpose salary advances to eligible employees. The company issues instant salary advances with minimal interest, offering eligible borrowers the flexibility to advance up to 50% of their monthly basic salary, at any time. The interest rate starts at 3.5% and is payable 30 days from the date of disbursement.
Advance Tech Lending handles all the administrative matters, from pre-approvals to onboarding and repayments, and turns a portion of an employee’s salary into a credit line. The application process is all online and takes seconds, and disbursement is instant upon approval.
Advance Tech Lending has partnered with over 200 companies to provide on-demand financial services to their employees, including major industry players like Sitel Philippines, Inspiro, Cebuana Lhuillier, and ePerformax.