Author: vivian

Vietnamese e-wallet Gpay secures Series A funding for team and market expansion

Vietnamese e-wallet provider Gpay recently announced that it has successfully raised capital funding from South Korean KB Financial Group for its Series A.

This financial round comes almost a year later after the State Bank of Vietnam has granted the fintech startup a 10-year license to provide intermediary payment services. This operational license will allow the startup to set up electronic payment portals, payment services, digital money transfer services, and eWallet services.

Following this funding round, Gpay is now valued at around 425 billion Vietnamese dongs, which is approximately US$18.5 million.

During the same announcement event held in Hanoi, G-Group Financial, the parent company of Gpay also revealed that it will be establishing a financial joint venture with KB Financial Group that is worth US$13 million.

Founded in 2018, Gpay is a member company of the investment firm G-Group Technology Corporation, which also operates other tech platforms including peer-to-peer lending platform Tima, financial services F88, and social networking platform Gapo.

Nguyen Thuan Chat, the co-founder and CEO of G Payment Joint Stock Company, the entity that owns and runs Gpay said that nationwide expansion plans are in the works and the goal is to reach 5 million users by 2023.

Currently, based on a statement at Pymnts, Gpay has reached US$50 million in Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) and currently has a presence in 42 cities and provinces.

Moving forward, the plan is to leverage G-Group’s ecosystem of 30 million registered users, as well as the addition of South Korea’s leading financial service provider KB Financial Group to get an edge.

“Gpay has a supportive ecosystem from G-Group with above 20 million users of financial platforms, game community, social network, and technology companies. We will invest more in technology and hiring talents,” said Cong Tan, a board member of Gpay.

The e-payment market in Vietnam is extremely crowded with 39 licensed providers of e-wallet services including Payme, FinViet, EPay, PayTech, Dibee, and Smart Net among some.

Just last week, local e-wallet player MoMo also announced its Series D funding round co-led by Warburg Pincus and Goodwater Capital that puts its total funds secured to date at US$232.7 million.

10 Indian startups joins unicorn club in 2020 despite COVID-19 pandemic

Indian startup 2020

While the COVID-19 pandemic is severely impacting businesses across various sectors and countries, the startup scene in India is singing a different tune having seen 10 new startups reaching the $1 billion valuations in 2020.

The list is compiled by Venture Intelligence and includes:

  1. Pine Labs – PoS and merchant platform serving over 150,000 merchants in 3,700 cities across Asia and the Middle East
  2. Nykaa – Online beauty-turned-lifestyle retailer that sells a range of skin and body care products, naturals, and fine fragrances
  3. Unacademy – Ed-tech startup with a vast network of over 180,000 educators and over 35,000 subscribers
  4. Razorpay – Payments solutions startup that authenticates and accept payments made through credit cards, debit cards, internet banking, and digital wallets
  5. Postman – Enterprise SaaS collaboration platform for application programming interface development used by over 11 million developers across the globe
  6. Zerodha – Platform for companies to accelerate their pace and effectiveness of software development
  7. Cars24 – Intermediary platform for buying and selling pre-owned vehicles
  8. Zenoti – Formerly known as ManageMySpa, Zenoti helps close to 1,000 spa and salon brands across 50 countries to manage and digitize appointments and PoS
  9. VerSe Innovation – Parent company of popular news aggregator platform Dailyhunt
  10. Glance – Subsidiary of InMobi Group, Glance delivers AI-driven personalized content in multiple languages across its platform

The report explains that while the pandemic has indeed drastically impact businesses across sectors including hospitality, travel, and transportation, startups within edtech, fintech, and healthcare sectors attracted huge investor interest during the year.

In fact, the year 2020 also witnessed the first unicorns coming from the Indian social media and content space: Glance and Dailyhunt.

Skanda Jayaraman, the managing director and head of investment banking at Spark Capital Advisors India commented on the situation, saying that “2020 saw the emergence of digitization of a lot of consumer patterns, from education to essentials, central and long-standing purchasing habits were disrupted at its core, and most of these changes are here to stay for 2021 and much beyond,”

It is this major shift in consumption patterns that is the reason why digitech companies and startups are finding themselves benefiting immensely from a funding and valuation re-rating, Jayaraman explained.

Additionally, a total of 14 Indian companies also saw their stocks listed on the BSE and National Stock Exchange during 2020. Among the 14 stocks trading, four of them ended the year 100% higher than their issue price.

This high expectations is likely to continue well throughout 2021 as several well-known internet startups, inclluding four unicorns which plan to list on the Mumbai stock exchanges this year. The four unicorns are online retailer Flipkart, food delivery company Zomato, ecommerce logistic service provider Delhivery and top online insurance marketplace Policybazaar.

Naturally, this will have a significant impact on the wider Indian stock market, which have been predominantly occupied by state-owned companies and family owned conglomerates.

India is currently the third largest ecosystem in the world, after the United States and China. The country is home to 21 unicorns which have a total valuation of US$73.2 billion.

Taranjit Singh Sandhu, India’s abassador to the United States even shared in a mentoring programme for Indian National Awards 2020, “entrepreneurial activity has picked up in India.By some estimates, more than 50 soonicorn’ startups might join the unicorn club as early as 2022.”

Based on a joint October report by TiE Delhi, a non-profit that promotes entrepreneurship, and Zinnov, a global management and strategy consulting firm, India is expected to have 60,000 to 62,000 startups by 2025, with a total of 100 unicorns.

Rajan Anandan, the president of TiE Delhi-NCR commented on the report saying that “Although the immediate impact of the lockdowns on the Indian startup ecosystem was severe, we were amazed to witness how quickly Indian founders acted to re-imagine their businesses. What has been most impressive is how many startups have reduced cash burn and improved unit economics very rapidly.”

And this steady stream of initial public offering by Indian startups throughout 2020 is just the beginning. This run of unicorns is set to continue in 2021, as forecasted with plans from a handful of internet startups. In any case, India’s startup ecosystem is certainly one to behold.

Indonesian digital investment app Bibit raises US$30 million funding

Bibit, an Indonesian digital investment platform announced that it has successfully raised US$30 million from Sequoia Capital India, with backing from existing investors including East Ventures, EV Growth, AC Ventures, and 500 Startups.

Launched in 2019, Bibit started as a platform for investors to share investment news and strategies in real-time. It later developed into a digital investing app with a robo-advisory service that helps first-time investors start investing free of commission.

With Bibit, users can build portfolios based on their individual risk profiles and investment goals through its mobile app which is now part of Stockbit, a stock investing app that caters to the millennials in Indonesia.

According to TechinAsia, the company also currently holds mutual funds selling agent license under the supervision of Indonesia’s Financial Services Authority (OJK).

Bibit CEO Sigit Kouwagam said the startup has experienced significant growth since its inception, and now has more than 1 million first-time investors registered with the platform during the past year alone.

90 percent of its users are millennials and first-time investors who are offered to build portfolios according to their risk profile and investment goals.

Kouwagam attributed the rise to the increase in awareness and education on investment and the importance of having good personal financial management.

According to IDX and Central Custodian data, the company said the number of retail investors in Indonesia grew by 56% year-on-year in 2020, with millennials accounting for 92% of the new investors last year.

Bibit, however, said that despite this rapid growth, statistics-wise only less than 2 percent of Indonesians have participated in the stock market so far.

“Stockbit and Bibit have been positively impacted during the pandemic,” noted East Ventures managing partner and co-founder Wilson Cuaca. “It has a fast-growing number of retail investors with 10x growth for transactions in 2020. ”

“This new round will push Stockbit to grow further and cement their position as the leading platform in Indonesia,” Cuaca added.

Sequoia Capital India, the lead investor in the funding round, operates in Southeast Asia and India, where it actively partners with founders from a wide range of companies and categories, including BYJUs, Carousell, Druva, Gojek, OYO Rooms, Tokopedia, Truecaller, Zilingo, and Zomato.

Japan’s Orix to acquire Spanish renewable energy firm Elawan Energy

Japanese financial conglomerate Orix Corporation has recently made a major acquisition of Spain’s Elawan Energy, having purchased an 80% stake in the renewable energy firm from its management and Spanish industrial company Acek.

Hidetake Takahashi, the head of energy and eco-services business headquarters at Orix said, “Elawan is an ideal platform to further support the growth of Orix renewable energy business globally.

Established in 2007, Elawan develops and operates wind and solar power projects in Europe and the United States. It has 714 megawatts of operational projects, more than 460 megawatts under construction, and a development pipeline of over 10 gigawatts.

Headquartered in Tokyo, Orix has an investment portfolio that ranges from leasing to banking and real estate. It has been ramping up investment in renewable energy at home and abroad in the few recent years,

In September, Orix has also acquired about 20% stake in Indian renewable energy developer Greenko Energy Holdings for US$980 million, which is the conglomerate’s biggest investment in the sector overseas.

However, this deal with Elawan will mark the corporation’s first deal to acquire a majority stake in an overseas renewable energy company.

According to the company’s spokesperson Yuka Kanaoka, there will be an additional capital injection, and the deal will be worth about 100 billion yen, which is roughly equivalent to US$965 million.

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021, subject to receipt of regulatory approvals and satisfaction of customary closing conditions.

Singapore cultured milk startup TurtleTree secures US$6.2 million Pre-Series A round

TurtleTree Labs, a cell-based milk creator, has secured US$6.2 million in an oversubscribed pre-Series A funding round. Investors participating in the round include Eat Beyond Global, Green Monday Ventures, KBW Ventures, and Verso Capital.

Following this latest round, Saudi HRH Prince Khaled bin Talal Al Saud, a vegan who is an investor in the alternative protein sector through KBW Ventures, will also join TurtleTree as an advisor on market growth plans.

For TurtleTree Labs, this is the third capital fundraising in the year, adding to the US$3.2 million raised in its June seed funding, and its undisclosed pre-seed round in January which was led by Lever VC, with participation from KBW Ventures and K2 Global.

The Singapore-based biotech startup plans to invest the capital raised to research and produce functional bioactive proteins and complex sugars found in human breast milk, which are said to be components that are beneficial for gut and brain health.

The startup produces cell-based milk by isolating stem cells from milk and proliferating them, before placing them into a lactation media, an environment similar to a breast, causing the cells to lactate and produce the end-product of milk.

TurtleTree’s Co-founder and CEO Fengru Lin told FoodNavigator-USA, “On top of being able to optimize our process for scale, we are now working with global manufacturing partners who have capabilities to produce enough for our potential agreements.”

“Currently, we are in discussions with potential partners to include TurtleTree’s functional ingredients in health food products. These high-value components have potential benefits in gut and brain health, which can be applied to both infant and senior nutrition.”

Based on a report from Fortune Business Insights, the infant formula market was forecast to grow to US$107.3 billion by 2026. That is a compound annual growth rate of 10.85 percent a year, from S$45.12 billion in 2018.

For now, TurtleTree said it plans to focus on producing human breast milk first, before moving on to cow milk.

Moving on, the plan for the startup is to adopt a business model of technology licensing. The startup doesn’t necessarily have to produce milk and instead will be working with leading dairy processors, equipment suppliers, and CPG brands, added Lin.

“We are looking at a licensing and royalty model, we want to be the R&D hub for the industry,” said Max Rye, the Co-founder of TurtleTree Labs.

“Some conversations with potential partners are now very advanced, we’ve been talking for at least eight months, and others ae very early stage. We want to work with multiple companies, not do exclusive deals, so the licensing model is built around that.”

The startup also said it expects to find a market for its product within the city-state of Singapore which faces the limitations of having grazing land for cattle and has to source outwards for its appetite for dairy products such as cheese.

It has also received support from the Singapore government, which is pursuing a 30 by 30 policy of having the city-state produce 30 percent of its food by 2030, up from its current 10 percent. This policy was given greater urgency after the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted supply and logistic chains globally.

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