Razer, the gaming hardware unicorn company, announced recently that it had formed a consortium with other strategic partners through its fintech arm, Razer Fintech, with the purpose of applying for a full digital banking license from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
Aside from the Razer Fintech-led consortium, other interested parties that also applied for the full digital banking license include regional ride-hailing app unicorn Grab and Singtel, which also partnered together to form a consortium to apply for the digital bank license. It is understood that Grab will have a sixty percent stake in the consortium, with the remaining forty percent being held by the telecommunications company Singtel. Singapore’s central bank will issue up to five digital banking licenses in total, with two of those being full digital banking licenses while the other three are wholesale digital banking licenses, and is expected to announce the successful applicants sometime in mid-2020.
According to Razor Fintech, the company plans to establish what it describes as the first youth-focused global bank – Razer Youth Bank – which is aimed at addressing the financial needs of underserved youth and millennials. Razor Fintech claims that it is very well equipped to serve this segment of the market because of its experience through its youth and millennial lifestyle-focused brand, with which it can leverage to personalize fintech solutions and services and to accelerate the adoption of its digital banking services among the nation’s youth.
It also believes that its ecosystem of linked industry players and partners and key lifestyle collaborators affords it a competitive edge and understanding of how best to deliver customized fintech solutions and services for the vast and underserved youth segment.
Razor Youth Bank will be based in Singapore, though the unicorn company has plans to eventually expand its services to reach a global audience. Razor Fintech will hold a sixty percent majority stake in the consortium, while its five other strategic partners will hold the remaining forty percent.
The strategic partners in the Razer Fintech-led consortium are FWD Group, an insurance company owned by billionaire Richard Li, son of tycoon Li Ka-Shing; LinkSure Global, the mobile Internet company led by Chen Danian that launched the world’s first and largest WiFi sharing app, WiFi Master Key; Sheng Siong Holdings, parent company of Sheng Siong Supermarket, which is the third largest supermarket chain in Singapore; Carro, Southeast Asia’s largest automotive marketplace and Singapore-based car financing startup; and Insignia Ventures Partners, a Singapore-based venture capital firm that specializes in startup investment.
Additionally, Razer’s youth-focused digital bank plans to work with several partners to build and develop its services and offerings, some of which include Visa, Real Vision, JustCo, and Quantifeed, as well as other key companies and service providers.
Lee Li Meng, chief executive officer of Razor Fintech, said that the current generation of youth and millennials are being underserved even in well-developed economies like Singapore’s. Their aim is to help those aged between twelve and thirty-five years old to become more acquainted with the rapidly evolving finance and fintech industry of today, and to develop customized financial products and solutions to suit their needs.
He also noted that the establishment of a digital bank is a natural step forward for their payments business, and that their application, if successful, will greatly contribute to the development of Singapore as a world-class financial center for the delivery of innovative and advanced financial and fintech services and solutions.
Razer, the computer hardware unicorn, has lately been diversifying to become more service and software-oriented company with a focus on youth and gamers in order to lessen its dependence on gaming hardware and peripherals. The formation of its fintech arm, Razor Fintech, has seen the company grow and develop a substantial digital payments network in the region which has thus far transacted more than a billion dollars in payment value to date. If Razor Fintech’s bid for a full digital banking license is successful, the unicorn company has a real chance of disrupting and dramatically altering Singapore’s financial landscape.
Grab, the regional super application that originally started out as a ride-hailing service but has since diversified into a multi-purpose platform including fintech and food delivery services, has been chosen by the Malaysian government to be a participant in the nation’s US$100 million e-Tunai Rakyat initiative.
The initiative was first announced by Malaysian Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng during Budget 2020 with the aim of incentivizing more Malaysians, particularly small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), to adopt e-wallet usage, which is currently at less than 10% of the population.
In line with the government initiative, Khazanah Nasional, Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund, recently announced that Grab, Touch ‘n Go (TNG) and Boost have been chosen to be the official partners for the e-Tunai Rakyat initiative.
According to Sean Goh, Grab Malaysia’s country head, the unicorn company is fully dedicated and committed to collaborating with the government of Malaysia in seeing that their plan to drive more e-wallet usage and digital payments among users, merchants, and businesses of Malaysia succeeds. Sean also pointed out that Malaysia has a low adoption rate of e-wallets despite having one of the region’s highest mobile penetration rates, with a large majority of the population being aware of the mobile payment services available as well.
The e-Tunai Rakyat is a Malaysian government initiative aimed at encouraging more Malaysian users, merchants and businesses to adopt e-wallets by giving eligible candidates a one-time digital incentive that they can then use for spending on goods and services within the country through their e-wallets.
Eligible recipients must be citizens of Malaysia who are at least 18 years old and above who earn less than roughly USD$24,000 for the year 2018. The initiative will commence on the 15th of January 2020, and all qualified recipients will be able to claim their one-off US$7 digital credit between 15 January 2020 to 14 March 2020. It should also be noted that the e-Tunai Rakyat incentive must be spent by 14 March 2020 or any remaining balance that is not used will expire after the aforementioned date.
The partnership with the Malaysian government to accelerate the adoption of e-wallets in the country comes at a time when the unicorn company has set its eyes on becoming a regional fintech powerhouse. Grab recently announced their intention of applying for a full digital banking license from the Monetary Authority of Singapore, which if successful will enable it to potentially shake up Singapore’s banking industry, which to-date has been dominated by local banks United Overseas Bank, DBS Bank and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC Bank) for twenty years.
Recently the regional super app also entered into a partnership with MasterCard to launch Asia’s first numberless card, which has much higher security than traditional credit cards due to the fact that there are no visible numbers on the front and back. Instead, users can check on the card’s details such as CVV, expiry, and number from their Grab app.
Sean Goh said in a statement that Grab is innovating the finance sector in Malaysia by offering fintech solutions that empower the country’s SMEs to better focus on their core areas of business without being saddled with the difficulties of operating a cash-centric business. The firm’s GrabPay service has successfully connected many SMEs to the millions of users that are active daily on their platform, and this has benefitted both parties in the ecosystem.
As the unicorn super app Grab helps the Malaysian government to speed up the usage of e-wallets in the country and accelerate the growth of its digital economy, the company is also strategically positioning itself to be Southeast Asia’s leading fintech ecosystem.
With more partnerships and collaborations with other Southeast Asian governments, Grab can indeed become the region’s leading fintech powerhouse.
Grab, the Southeast Asian unicorn app that has since expanded from its initial ride-hailing service to also include food delivery and financial services is seeking to apply for one of the five digital banking licenses that Singapore’s Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is currently issuing, as reported.
It is understood that Grab Financial Group, which is Grab’s financial services division and one of the main drivers of growth for the unicorn, will look to apply for a full banking license from Singapore, which will enable it to provide more diversified financial services for its users and open up new avenues of growth for the company.
The Singapore reserve bank is currently issuing five digital banking licenses with the aim of accelerating the sovereign island city-state’s banking sector and industry, three of which are wholesale banking licenses while the other two are full banking licenses.
Reuben Lai, who is head of Grab Financial Group, said that the unicorn is looking to apply for the online banking license from Singapore’s reserve bank before the 31st of December 2019, which is the deadline for the digital banking license’s application. Lai also confirmed that Grab is looking to apply for a full banking license. If successful, the full banking license will enable the multi-faceted unicorn company to further expand on its financial offerings, such as granting its users and businesses access to important financial services such as lending and deposits on its platform. The acquisition of a full banking license will, according to Reuben Lai, enable the unicorn to further strengthen its foothold in Southeast Asia as one of the region’s preeminent fintech ecosystems.
Elaborating further on the digital banking license, Reuben noted that one of the goals that the unicorn company hopes to achieve with the license is to make it easier for their users and businesses to access vital financial services and to make their services and processes more transparent.
They want to enable their users and businesses in Singapore to enjoy a fluid, uncomplicated and streamlined banking experience that is easy to understand and without hidden charges and fees. Crucially, the full digital banking license will enable Grab to serve both non-retail and retail customers, such as taking deposits from them besides providing a broad range of other financial services.
The unicorn startup won’t be the only firm looking to acquire the much-coveted banking license. Singtel, one of the four major telecommunications service providers operating in Singapore, is reportedly also interested in applying for the license.
FOMO Pay, a Singapore-headquartered one-stop mobile payment processing solution platform, has also expressed interest in applying for a license as well. According to news sources, global and multinational fintech companies and corporations along with overseas banks are also expected to apply for digital banking licenses through joint ventures.
Another unicorn, high-end gaming hardware company Razer, is seriously considering applying for the online banking license. MAS is expected to make an announcement regarding the successful applicants sometime in mid-2020, with successful applicants being able to commence business by mid-2021. If the unicorn Grab manages to secure a full digital banking license, the company certainly has the potential and means to disrupt Singapore’s banking industry and become a regional fintech powerhouse.
Update: Singtel has partnered with Grab to make a bid for the digital full bank license together, which if successful will see the ride-hailing firm hold a 60 percent stake in the consortium while Singtel will hold the remaining 40 percent. If successful, the digital full bank license will allow Grab and Singtel to serve retail customers, including taking deposits and enabling them to lend money to companies.
Singapore ride-hailing unicorn Grab has partnered with South Korean automobile manufacturer Hyundai Motors and motorcycle manufacturers Gesits and Astra Honda Motor to launch its electric vehicle (EV) pilot project roadmap in Indonesia aimed at developing a more sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility ecosystem in the country by spurring the adoption of two and four-wheeled electric vehicles.
The pilot project is also supported by the Indonesian government, and the initial pilot will take place in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta with a fleet of 20 of Hyundai’s Ioniq EVs being available for Grab’s drivers in early 2020. According to Hyundai, the Ioniq EVs can be almost fully charged in just 60 minutes and have a traveling mileage of 270 kilometers (167 miles) before needing to be recharged.
The initiative by Grab to introduce EVs into its ride-hailing ecosystem comes in the wake of the Indonesian government’s commitment of increasing the number of electric vehicles plying the country’s roads to 2 million by 2025 with the aim of reducing motor vehicle pollution and developing a more sustainable transportation network.
Besides the support from the Indonesian government, it is understood that Softbank has also made an investment of US$2 billion into Grab in July this year with the purpose of building and developing a sustainable, environmentally friendly next-generation transport network powered by an electric vehicle ecosystem. Additionally, Grab has signed a deal with electricity provider Perusahaan Listrik Negara to collaborate in the development of electric vehicle charging stations in the country to facilitate the usage of EVs on Indonesia’s roads and highways.
Other than Hyundai’s four-wheel Ioniq EVs, Grab is also introducing electric vehicle bikes into its mobility ecosystem as part of its EV pilot roadmap. It has established strategic partnerships with Indonesia’s Gesits and Astra Honda Motor to launch two-wheel EVs in the city of Jakarta for its riders to use for ride-hailing and delivery services.
According to the president of Grab Indonesia, Ridzki Kramadibrata, the strategic partnerships formed with Hyundai Motors, Gesits, Astra Honda Motor, and the Indonesian government shows the company’s dedication to building and developing a high-grade digital infrastructure for the country that facilitates and accelerates the growth of an electric vehicle-powered next-generation transport network.
Ridzki added that Grab’s current EV pilot project and roadmap will help the company to further refine and enhance its mobility and transport solutions so that better cost-efficiencies can be achieved, which can encourage more people in Indonesia and across Southeast Asia to start using electric vehicles.
Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan spoke on behalf of the Indonesian government, saying that Grab’s EV ecosystem roadmap perfectly complements the country’s current objective of pushing for a more sustainable and eco-friendly transport network, as well as accelerating the country’s EV industry.
For this, the government is appreciative of Grab’s efforts to improve and advance Indonesia’s digital infrastructure. Luhut added that the company’s pilot project will also help to address the country’s unhealthy air conditions by reducing the number of pollution-causing motor vehicles on its roads and highways.
Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing unicorn Grab will continue to pursue the development of more sustainable EV-based next-generation transportation networks for the region’s countries through partnerships and collaborations with government bodies, automobile manufacturers and electricity providers.
With the support and cooperation of the various stakeholders in the mobility ecosystem, the ride-hailing unicorn looks forward to innovating and developing more mobility solutions for a more environmentally friendly and sustainable Southeast Asia.
Singapore-based online classifieds business platform startup Carousell is on the brink of becoming Southeast Asia’s next premier unicorn and is poised to become the region’s dominant digital marketplace.
Its recent merger with Telenor Group’s former subsidiary 701Search gave it control over three other digital marketplaces that are the leading online classifieds marketplaces of their respective countries, namely Mudah in Malaysia, OneKyat in Myanmar and ChoTot in Vietnam.
The strategic merger means that Carousell was able to extend its commanding presence into two new additional markets in Vietnam and Myanmar, besides its current existing markets of Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Australia.
Before the merger with 701Search, Carousell had a core valuation of US$560 million, but the new merger will see the valuation of the startup leap to an astounding US$850 million, which is just a tad shy of the US$1 billion needed to become a unicorn.
Clearly, Carousell is the leading startup in Southeast Asia with the best prospects of claiming the region’s next unicorn mantle. Still, despite all the hype and buzz surrounding the company’s merger which propelled its valuation to near-unicorn status, Carousell as a whole remains firmly grounded and is still focused on building a sustainable and meaningful business.
In fact, the startup’s chief financial officer, Rakesh Malani, said that the company remains steadfast and committed in its approach to building the business progressively, and is in no hurry to make optimization for a higher valuation a major constant priority. Mr. Malani elaborated further by saying that Carousell will explore how best to leverage on the new markets of Vietnam and Myanmar that they were given access to as a result of the merger.
By focusing on delivering real results, enhancing its business performance and taking the time to do the right things, Mr. Malani believes that Carousell will continually add value to the company and eventually achieve high valuation and unicorn status as natural by-products as a result of their efforts.
Co-founder Marcus Tan also echoed Mr. Malani’s sentiments, saying that the startup remains focused on nurturing and developing its vibrant community, always keeping in mind the needs and priorities of its community members. By serving the interests and needs of its community and taking care of them well, Carousell will achieve unicorn status as a matter of course. Mr. Tan backed up his words with the appropriate actions; at one time the company managed only seven new users a day, but they still emailed and followed up with every single person that did sign up, paying close attention to their feedback and staying in touch.
Eventually what made Carousell stand out from the rest was not just their digital marketplace platform, but their supportive community of dedicated users that made Carousell into the exceptional company that it is today. To better illustrate this point, the startup actually came up with a step-by-step lesson plan that teaches its elderly members how to get around the platform on their own.
Carousell also intends to promote environmentally sound and sustainable business practices. One of the company’s goals is to motivate users to adopt a “second-hand is the best choice” lifestyle, and to encourage more people to buy and sell from each other so as to create more opportunities. It also ran a campaign a few years back that encouraged users to donate their items for charitable purposes.
Carousell, the digital classifieds business platform startup, plans to maintain focus on developing its community and building their business progressively despite the hype surrounding its US$850 million valuation post merger.