Singapore has built itself a reputation as the fintech capital of the world. Cementing this position is a strong financial industry, unrivalled physical and digital infrastructure, a favorable ecosystem of investors, and friendly government regulations.
The city-state is also headquarters to the Singapore Fintech Festival, the biggest event of its kind where the global fintech community gathers annually to discuss the future of the sector.
During the first nine months of 2019, Singaporean fintech companies raised US$735 million – a 69 percent increase compared to the same period last year, according to research published on Tuesday by consultant group Accenture.
With more than 490 fintech startups now calling Singapore their home, it’s clear that emerging businesses are aware of the opportunities presented by the country and want to capitalise on the benefits they have to offer.
Below is a roundup of some of the most innovative fintech startups in Singapore.
What: peer-to-business (P2B) lending platform for SMEs
Funding: US$15.2 million in Series B
Founded in 2015 in Singapore, Validus brings together accredited individual and institutional lenders and SMEs.
It obtained its Capital Markets Services (CMS) licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in December 2017.
The startup announced recently that it successfully raised US$15.2 million in its Series B funding round. The investment was led by FMO, Netherlands’ public-private development bank.
What: Blockchain-powered platform for cross-border money transfers.
Funding: US$26.5 million over two rounds.
According to the startup, their primary focus is “to serve migrant workers, tourists, permanent travelers, expats, digital nomads, and international students who often become underbanked, or even unbanked whilst abroad visiting or living in Southeast Asia.”
What: White-label social trading network for stock brokerage firms
Funding: US$17k over the seed round
ShereIt (formerly Bw8 Trading) is a mobile-based social trading platform for stock brokerage firms. It allows users to communicate with other traders around the world in a real-time and transparent setting.
ShereIt helps amateur traders find the best business partners through its social networking platform. Leveraging on the feeds of top traders, investors can learn about new strategies and different sectors. Beginners can follow a range of traders and learn about different trading styles which will help build their own knowledge and skills.
What: fintech and insurtech startup that offers a “one-of-a-kind life planning solution to reflect the unique lifestyle of everyone
Funding: S$3.4 million over two funding rounds
BTO uses advanced statistical models and AI to help individuals make better decisions when attempting to finance their future. It was formed in 2015, and is now available in Asia, Europe and Middle East.
What: Peer-to-Peer money transfer application
Funding: US$865.93k in 2 rounds from 4 investors
Founded in 2015, Toast is a mobile application that allows Filipinos in Hong Kong and Singapore to send money home to the Philippines via their smartphone. TOAST’s USP is that it transmits your money quicker than traditional money transfer shops and cheaper than banks.
What: cross-border payments that enables businesses to make transfers at the mid-market exchange rate obtained from third-party sources like Bloomberg and Reuters without a mark-up
Funding: US$1.2 million during initial funding
Recently awarded the Gold Award for Payment Tech Category (Startup) at the Institute of Financial Technologists of Asia (IFTA) Fintech Achievement Award Ceremony 2018 held in Hong Kong on 26 February, TranSwap helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) streamline their payment processes and make foreign payments at the most competitive rates to more than 45 countries.
What: Financial services powered by blockchain technology
Funding: US$123M in funding over 3 rounds. The latest funding came from an Initial Coin Offering round in 2017
Quoine provides trading, exchange, and next-generation financial services powered by blockchain technology. The platform allows users to trade virtual currencies for legal tender and in 2017 they launched their own ICO, QASH. After three days the company announced it had raised 350 million QASH with an oversubscribed placing, making it one of the most successful blockchain fintech ICOs globally.
What: Data-driven venture investment platform
Funding: US$3.5M during the early stage funding round
Hatcher+ is a next-generation, data-driven venture firm that uses AI and machine learning-based technologies to identify early-stage opportunities in partnership with leading accelerators and investors, worldwide.
Hatcher+ provides optimised returns for venture investors using proprietary algorithms, real time monitoring and customisable technology. It sources startup information from accelarator programs and partner VCs, investment professionals and angel investors.
What: Equity and lending-based crowdfunding platform
Funding: US$1.29M in 1 round from 7 investors
Another startup that was launched in 2015, FundedHere is Singapore’s first home-grown crowdfunding platform. The company offers both equity and lending-based forms of crowdfunding for Asian businesses that meet the startup’s four-point criteria. Equity funding means investors finance the startups in exchange for equity holdings, which will later entitle them to future capital gains and dividends. With lending-based crowdfunding, investors lend a startup money in exchange for a legally binding commitment that the loan will be repaid on pre-determined time dates and interest rate.
What: Digital insurance manager
Funding: US$20M in funding over 3 rounds. The latest funding came from an Initial Coin Offering round in 2018.
PolicyPal is a mobile application that allows users to find and manage their insurance policies via a single, unified platform. The app shows you where policies have overlapping or missing coverage and recommends the insurance that is best suited to your needs. Their PAL token was launched earlier this year and the PolicyPal Network aims to address key issues that overlap the fields of both insurance and crypto assets.
What: Artificial Intelligence (AI) system that helps banks and financial institutions combating money laundering and terrorism financing
Silent Eight is a regulatory technology (regtech) startup backed by leading venture capitalists from Singapore and Silicon Valley. Using an AI, they pioneer an innovative solution for customer screening and transaction monitoring powered by machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) which enable banks and financial institutions to fight money laundering and terrorism financing.
What: Investment research network for asset managers
Funding: US$21M in 3 rounds of funding
Smartkarma owns and operates a research network, providing investment insights into global markets. Acting as an unbiased information source, it originally sought to provide transparent research into markets throughout Asia. However, the company has now expanded into American and European markets, helping investors across the globe to determine their future investments. The research is provided by a number of leading academics, analysts, data scientists and industry experts.
What: Remittance services for individuals and businesses
Funding: US$18.5M across seed, series a and series b funding rounds
Co-founded by Prajit Nanu and Michael Bermingham in 2014, InstaReM (portmanteau of “Instant” and “Remittance”) provides fast, secure and cost-effective digital cross-border money transfer services to individuals and businesses.
The startup also offers a configurable, multi-featured platform, MassPay, that helps corporate and SME users to manage and control their high-volume remittances to multiple beneficiaries in multiple currencies via a seamless process, allowing them to reduce cross-border money transfer costs by up to 80 percent.
Additional reporting by Cristina Lago