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Three Singapore startups raise millions in funding

25 - 01 - 2018 | JACQUELYN CHEOK, JAMIE LEE | THE BUSINESS TIMES

Three Singapore startups raise millions in funding

StoreHub snags US$5.1m in funds; tryb raises US$30m and Capital Match scores Series B funding

THE funding game is strong for Singapore-based startups this week. Peer-to-peer lending site Capital Match scored Series B funding led by Eduardo Saverin's B Capital Group, while fintech group tryb raised US$30 million from Makara Innovation Fund and retail tech firm StoreHub snagged US$5.1 million in Series A funding led by Temasek's Vertex Ventures.

Capital Match said that its Series B funding round - the sum of which was undisclosed - was oversubscribed. The round was led by B Capital Group, a global venture capital firm backed by Mr Saverin, co-founder of Facebook. Dymon Asia Venture Capital Fund (Singapore), an existing investor in Capital Match, also participated in this funding round.

Capital Match, which operates an invoice financing and secured lending platform, will use the new capital to support its latest expansion to Hong Kong, tech development and growth of its financing products portfolio. Since the launch of its invoice financing product in 2016, it has raised S$55 million for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore.

Its chief Pawel Kuznicki said: "We are seeing a significant financing gap for the region's SMEs. Our first choice after Singapore has been Hong Kong, due to its supportive regulatory environment. There is a large and equally developed factoring market in Hong Kong but it is still in its early stage in terms of online spot invoice financing disruption."

Meanwhile, fintech platform firm tryb Group has secured US$30 million to develop its financial infrastructure platform for Asean. The investment is from Singapore's Makara Innovation Fund, a US$717 million private equity fund that invests in late-stage startups and growth-stage companies, and is run by Singapore-founded Makara Capital.

tryb said that it plans to use the capital to speed up the acquisition of growth-stage fintech companies, with a focus on SME lending, trade finance and micro-credit. tryb buys fintech firms, and works concurrently to design, build and implement tech projects in strategic collaboration with domestic entrepreneurs and business partners in the region.

The aim for tryb is to build a financial infrastructure network that taps financing demands out of Asean, where less than 60 per cent of SMEs have access to bank loans.

Kelvin Tan, director of investments at Makara Innovation Fund, said: "As a tech-driven company that leverages its defensible IP (intellectual property) portfolio as a strategic asset, tryb signifies a unique investment value proposition. "Underpinned by its strong leadership team, the company is poised to lead the transformation towards the digitisation of Asean's credit markets, with the aim of sustaining its competitive edge through its management of its defensible and proprietary tech and know-how."

StoreHub, which provides retail management solutions to retailers, has bagged S$5.1 million to expand its business across South-east Asia. This Series A funding round was led by Vertex Ventures and participated by Cradle Seed Ventures, Accord Ventures and Fintonia Group. StoreHub will use the new funds to deepen its presence in its main markets of Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, and to double its team size to 160 people in the next 12 months. It will also invest in launching new products that will help traditional brick and mortar retailers have an online presence and utilise digital marketing to grow its business.

Chua Joo Hock, managing partner at Vertex Ventures (South-east Asia and India), said that it is now timely to invest in technologies that help SMEs ride the digital wave. "StoreHub gives SME businesses a foretaste of the future of POS, and helps them launch and exploit new business opportunities without having to devote significant resources in hiring a team of experts in-house.

"We are excited about the upcoming features that StoreHub will roll out for these clients, which will differentiate SMEs who use their solution from the rest."

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