Recent startup news from Singapore

Editorial Staff Funding, Startup News

Here are some highlights from last week that showcase local companies receiving funding or winning startup competitions.

Hyperledger wins USD 50,000 at Sibos

Singapore has just hosted Sibos, the world’s most prestigious financial services event, organised by SWIFT. Held annually since 1978, the conference brings together industry leaders from a range of financial institutions, multinational corporations and technology partners.

A key part of Sibos is the Startup Challenge, run by Innotribe, SWIFT’s innovation division. The competition aims to identify the leading Financial Technology (FinTech) entrepreneurs of the future, rewarding the winner with funding and access to industry contacts. This year, over 370 companies from across the world applied to take part in the Startup Challenge. On the basis of regional showcase events in London, Cape Town, Singapore and New York, the entrants were reduced to 12 finalists by a panel of senior finance executives. Aiming to convince financial institutions to adopt their innovative products, these finalists pitched their businesses to leaders at Sibos. Finalists also hosted individual exhibitions as part of the Innotribe stand, as a way to gain interest from the audience via live product demos.

The event was won by Hyperledger, a blockchain-style ledger platform marketed at financial institutions. Hyperledger eliminates intermediaries from financial transactions, reducing the cost of regulatory compliance and speeding up international trade. It gives users more freedom than traditional blockchain based solution by allowing users to choose what currency they wish to trade in; this also reduces regulatory risk. Furthermore, while the blockchain connects every global Bitcoin transaction, Hyperledger keeps transfers private, allowing users to create multiple ledgers for different asset classes. Hyperledger will receive USD 50,000 in funding, not to mention contacts and press coverage.

Startupbootcamp FinTech Singapore opens applications for 2016 accelerator

Startupbootcamp FinTech Singapore (SFS) has officially started accepting applications for its 2016 accelerator programme. Every year, SFS provides funding, mentors and office space to 10 Singapore-based FinTech startups. The programme is located in Singapore’s startup hub, One-North, where successful teams will be given at least three months’ office space at a coworking space called BASH. Incubation includes access to a network of industry partners, investors and venture capitalists — in addition to S$ 24,500 in capital. To date, SFS has supported 11 teams in this way; these startups graduated from the accelerator in July this year.

SFS is particularly interested in hearing from startups with innovative solutions in the following areas:

  • Wealth management
  • Blockchain technology
  • Compliance
  • Back office products
  • Financial inclusion
  • Payments

Simultaneously, SFS is organizing a FastTrack tour, at which startups will pitch in front of a panel of financial industry experts and angel investors. The tour starts in Singapore on 26 October, and includes stops in Mumbai, Seoul, Manila and Sydney, with the aim of sharing FinTech insights across the region and finding promising startups for SFS’s accelerator programme. Entrepreneurs interested in the ASEAN region should note that Singapore is Startupbootcamp’s regional hub for this part of the world. This is a testament to the superior startup infrastructure found in Singapore.

M&S partners invest in Lookup

Singapore-based investment group M&S partners have participated in Lookup’s USD 2.5 million Series A round.

Lookup is an Indian app startup that uses chat to disrupt local commerce — a bit like WhatsApp for B2C trade. Customers can scan receipts and send them as images. The app has over one million users in India after only a few months of operations. Senior management is planning on using the capital to expand into international markets, particularly Dubai, where Lookup has a partner in local Singapore-based business Etisalat.

The Series A round was led by Khosla Impact, and also included participation from Rocket Internet, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and former Google Local head Anuj Srivastava.

Toast raises a seed round of S$ 1.2 million

Singapore-based financial transfers platform Toast has raised S$1.2 million in seed funding. The investment round was led by Singapore-based firm Aetius Capital, and included contributions from ACE & Company and One Zero Capital. Toast is the first startup incubated by SFS to receive venture funding. It will use the funds to expand its team, particularly in financial engineering and marketing.

Toast was inspired by the sight of people queueing for hours at ATMs in the Singapore heat. The startup has created an online money remittance platform, targeted at migrant workers in Singapore who want to send money back to their families as rapidly as they could send an email or a WhatsApp message. Toast have developed a mobile app, due to be released for Android next month. Users can create an account, verify their identity and transfer funds in a matter of minutes, as opposed to waiting 3-5 business days for banks to make an international transfer. The service costs a fixed price of S$6, regardless of the size of the transaction, protecting the cash-strapped target market from exorbitant bank fees.

Unlike most app startup, Toast is setting up a physical retail location in Singapore. In an industry where most competitors are faceless, Toast hopes this strategy will enable it to build trust and long-term business relationships with its customers.