Payfazz invests $30M in Xfers as the two Southeast Asian fintechs form Fazz Financial Group

Payfazz and Xfers, two startups that want to increase financial inclusion in Southeast Asia, announced today they have joined forces to create a new holding entity called Fazz Financial Group. As part of the deal, Payfazz, an agent-based financial services network in Indonesia, invested $ 30 million into payments infrastructure provider Xfers.

Based in Singapore, Xfers will serve as the B2B and Southeast Asia arm of Fazz Financial Group, while Payfazz, which already uses Xfers’ payments infrastructure, will continue expanding in Indonesia. The two companies will retain their names while working together under the new holding entity.

Both Payfazz and Xfers are Y Combinator alums, and want to make financial services accessible to more Southeast Asians, even if they don’t have a bank account. Xfers co-founder Tianwei Liu told TechCrunch in an email he and Payfazz co-founder Hendra Kwik began talking about joining forces in early 2020 because of their startups’ shared goals.

“This is also coupled with the fact that last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has driven a significant increase in demand for digital payments and financial services across Indonesian rural areas, creating a huge growth opportunity for us,” Liu added.

Kwik will serve as Fazz Financial Group’s group CEO, while Liu will be the financial entity’s deputy CEO. Both will continue serving as CEOs of their respective companies. Fazz Financial Group also appointed as its chief financial officer Robert Polana, who previously held the same role at booking platform Tiket.com.

In Indonesia, Payfazz has built a network of 250,000 financial agents to reach people in rural areas where many banks don’t operate branches. Customers deposit cash with agents, and that balance can used to pay phone, electricity and other bills.

Payfazz, which announced a $ 53 million Series B in July from investors including Tiger Global and Y Combinator, also offers loans and payment services for offline retailers. As part of Fazz Financial Group, it will continue to build its agent banking network.

Payfazz uses payment infrastructure developed by Xfers to accept digital payments. Originally launched six years ago with an API for bank transfers, Xfers has since expanded its portfolio of software to include payment acceptance for businesses, tools for disbursing and transferring funds and a cryptocurrency wallet. In 2020, Xfers obtained a Major Payment Institution license for e-money issuance from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Xfers will continue to serve clients in Indonesia and Singapore with its payments infrastructure, which enables them to accept bank transfers, e-wallet funds and payments through convenience stores and agent banking networks (like Payfazz). Xfers says it has access to more than 10 million underbanked consumers in Indonesia through its work with agent banking services, and also plans to expand into Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Fazz Financial Group plans to launch two new products later this year: a zero-integration payment solution for Singapore-based merchants and a single-integration solution that will connect local payment methods across Southeast Asia.

Liu said that, unlike the United States, Southeast Asia “has a fragmented local payments landscape, even within each country,” meaning that consumers often use several payment methods. Creating a single-integration for payment methods in Southeast Asia gives brands a growth channel when entering new countries, allowing them to scale up more quickly, he added.

“The COVID-19 pandemic lockdown has also driven a big surge in online sales and transactions across Southeast Asia, so there is a huge need for online payments by businesses and merchants across the region,” Liu said. “The zero-integration and single-integration solution will help businesses and merchants start accepting online payments quickly and easily with a simple integration within minutes, without any need to deal with complex regulation/license handling and technology development.”

Startups – TechCrunch

ErudiFi raises $5 million Series A to give students in Southeast Asia more education financing options

Based in Singapore, ErudiFi wants to help more students in Southeast Asia stay in school by giving them affordable financing options. The startup announced today it has raised a $ 5 million Series A, co-led by Monk’s Hill Ventures and Qualgro.

ErudiFi currently works with more than 50 universities and vocational schools in Indonesia and the Philippines. Co-founder and chief executive officer Naga Tan told TechCrunch that students in those countries have limited financing options, and often rely on friends or family, or informal payday lenders that charge high interest rates.

To provide more accessible financing options, ErudiFi partners with accredited universities and schools to offer subsidized installment plans, using tech to scale up while keeping costs down. Interest rates and repayment terms vary between institutions, but can be as low as 0%, with loans payable in 12 to 24 months.

By providing their students with affordable financing plans, ErudiFi can increase retention rates at schools, helping them keep students who would otherwise be forced to drop out because of financial issues.

Tan said ErudiFi’s value proposition for educational institutions is “being able to offer a data-driven financing solution that helps with student recruitment and retention. Students also greatly benefit because our product is one of the few, if not the only, affordable financing option they have access to.”

In a press statement, Peng T. Ong, co-founder and managing partner of Monk’s Hill Ventures, said, “Access to affordable tertiary education remains a huge pain point in Southeast Asia where the cost is nearly double then the average GDP per capita. ErudiFi is tackling an underserved market that is plagued with high-interest rates by traditional financial institutions and limited reach from peer-to-peer lending companies.”

ErudiFi’s Series A will be used on hiring for its product and engineering teams and to expand in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Startups – TechCrunch

LAUNCHub Ventures launches new €44M fund focused on Southeast European market; aims to close €70M this year

LAUNCHub Ventures

LAUNCHub Venture, a Sofia-based early-stage VC, which concentrates on digital startups in the wider Southeastern Europe region, completed the first closing of its new fund at €44M, whose target is €70M. The Bulgarian company expects to reach the target by the second quarter of this year. 

Plans to help 25 startups

With the latest funding, LAUNCHub plans to invest in 25 startups, in the next four years. The initial investment will range between €500K and €2M in verticals such as B2B SaaS, Fintech, Proptech, Big Data, AI, Marketplaces, Digital Health, Web 3.0, and Blockchain

“Central and Eastern Europe’s rapid economic growth has caught the attention of Western investors searching for the next unicorn. The region has huge and still untapped potential with more and more local success stories, paving the way for the next generation of CEE tech founders,” says Todor Breshkov, founding partner at LAUNCHub Ventures.

The latest funding was backed by the European Investment Fund (EIF) with the participation of tech corporations and successful Bulgarian founders.

10% of current fund in works already

With the new fund, LAUNCHub has already backed three companies from Eastern Europe with a total of €4.6M or 10 per cent of the current fund. The companies include – FintechOS, FerryHopper, and Giraffe360. Besides doubling down on supporting founders across SEE and CEE regions, the company is strengthening the team while putting a further focus on equality.

Gender equality

“We’re incredibly proud to announce that this year we’ve reached a 50:50 gender split in our team,” says Irina Dimitrova, Partner at LAUNCHub Ventures. It’s worth mentioning that Irina Dimitrova has been promoted to operating partner. 

The company has added Raya Yunakova, an Investor previously working for PiLabs in London, and Mirela Yordanova, who is now an Associate, while previously leading the startup community at Google for Startups Campus in London.

Founded in 2012, the VC firm backed 150+ founders across two funds and has nine exits to date.

Startups – Silicon Canals

LAUNCHubs Ventures launches new €44M fund focused on Southeast European market; aims to close €70M this year

LAUNCHub Ventures

LAUNCHub Venture, a Sofia-based early-stage VC, which concentrates on digital startups in the wider Southeastern Europe region, completed the first closing of its new fund at €44M, whose target is €70M. The Bulgarian company expects to reach the target by the second quarter of this year. 

Plans to help 25 startups

With the latest funding, LAUNCHub plans to invest in 25 startups, in the next four years. The initial investment will range between €500K and €2M in verticals such as B2B SaaS, Fintech, Proptech, Big Data, AI, Marketplaces, Digital Health, Web 3.0, and Blockchain

“Central and Eastern Europe’s rapid economic growth has caught the attention of Western investors searching for the next unicorn. The region has huge and still untapped potential with more and more local success stories, paving the way for the next generation of CEE tech founders,” says Todor Breshkov, founding partner at LAUNCHub Ventures.

The latest funding was backed by the European Investment Fund (EIF) with the participation of tech corporations and successful Bulgarian founders.

10% of current fund in works already

With the new fund, LAUNCHub has already backed three companies from Eastern Europe with a total of €4.6M or 10 per cent of the current fund. The companies include – FintechOS, FerryHopper, and Giraffe360. Besides doubling down on supporting founders across SEE and CEE regions, the company is strengthening the team while putting a further focus on equality.

Gender equality

“We’re incredibly proud to announce that this year we’ve reached a 50:50 gender split in our team,” says Irina Dimitrova, Partner at LAUNCHub Ventures. It’s worth mentioning that Irina Dimitrova has been promoted to operating partner. 

The company has added Raya Yunakova, an Investor previously working for PiLabs in London, and Mirela Yordanova, who is now an Associate, while previously leading the startup community at Google for Startups Campus in London.

Founded in 2012, the VC firm backed 150+ founders across two funds and has nine exits to date.

Startups – Silicon Canals

StartupNation Radio: “Ask the Expert” Featuring SCORE of Southeast Michigan

On this episode of StartupNation Radio, Jeff kicks off the first installment of “Ask the Expert,” a series with SCORE of Southeast Michigan that is designed to help answer the burning questions of our community’s small business owners.

Joining Jeff today are Armando Ojeda, southeast Michigan chapter chair of SCORE, and today’s expert guest, Angela Mitchell.

Angela is a SCORE mentor and financial services expert, as well as the founder of DNA Financial Services, where she helps small business owners with finances, bookkeeping, taxes and more.

armando-ojeda angelamitchell

During the show, Jeff, Armando and Angela take call-ins from listeners, covering topics including:

  • Where to secure funding for your business when you’re relatively new to the small business community
  • How to protect your personal assets when securing funding for your business
  • How and when to hire more employees

Tune in to the full segment


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The SCORE of Southeast Michigan team will be back for more “Ask the Expert” segments in 2021!

If you’re in need of some advice or next steps in your decision-making process, feel free to reach out to a SCORE mentor at semichigan.score.org or call (800) 634-0425.

In addition to weekly StartupNation Radio programming, tune in to News/Talk 760 AM WJR weekday mornings at 7:11 a.m. for the WJR Business Beat. Listeners outside of the Detroit area can listen live HERE.

Do you have a great entrepreneurial success story to share? Tell us your story here and you could be featured on an upcoming episode of StartupNation Radio.

The post StartupNation Radio: “Ask the Expert” Featuring SCORE of Southeast Michigan appeared first on StartupNation.

StartupNation

Used car marketplace Carsome gets $30 million Series D for its Southeast Asia growth plans

Carsome, which bills itself as Southeast Asia’s largest e-commerce platform for used cars, announced it has closed a $ 30 million Series D. The funding was led by Asia Partners, with participation from returning investors Burda Principal Investments and Ondine Capital.

The startup claims that this is one of the largest “all-equity financings to-date in Southeast Asia’s online automotive industry.” Part of the Series D may be used for mergers and acquisitions to consolidate the company’s supply chain.

Founded five years ago in Malaysia, Carsome’s platform serves both C2C and B2C segments, and ensures quality by conducting inspections before vehicles are listed on its platform. It now has 1,000 employees and claims to transact 70,000 cars on an annualized basis, totaling $ 600 million.

In a press statement, co-founder and group chief executive officer Eric Cheng said that the company, which now also operates in Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore, doubled its monthly revenue over the past six months, compared to pre-pandemic levels. The company claims that this is partly because more people and businesses are buying their own cars for safety reasons.

While sales of new vehicles have plummeted around the world, used car sales, especially through e-commerce platforms, are recovering more quickly, according to Counterpoint Research. This largely because people want to avoid public transportation and ride-hailing, but also want cheaper options.

Other used car platforms in Southeast Asia include Carro, OLX Autos (formerly called BeliMobilGue) and Carmudi.

Startups – TechCrunch

Resellee wants to become the Pinduoduo of Southeast Asia

Launched in the Philippines, social commerce startup Resellee wants to recreate the success of Pinduoduo, one of China’s fastest-growing e-commerce companies, in Southeast Asia. A major part of Resellee’s business is grocery deliveries, including fresh produce, and it has struck partnerships with the government and farmers’ groups to meet demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The startup announced this week it has raised $ 1 million in seed funding from Mintech Enterprises and Hofan Capital to build its technology and expand into new countries. Resellee was co-founded last year by chief executive officer Marc Concio, former head of e-commerce at Voyager Innovations, parent company of PayMaya, one of the Philippines’ largest online payment services.

Concio told TechCrunch that there are currently about 40,000 resellers on Resellee’s platform, and each has an average of about 20 buyers. Resellee sellers typically make about P5,000, or US $ 100, a month.

Like Pinduoduo, India’s Meesho and other social commerce platforms, Reselllee does not require sellers to carry their own inventory. Instead, it maintains a network of suppliers, including manufacturers and farmers, and lists available products on a marketplace. Then sellers chose what they want to add to their stores, which they market to potential buyers through their social media networks.

Resellee offers a wide range of products, including electronics and fashion items, but it currently focuses on grocery deliveries and prepaid credit for mobile phones and online games, which are all in high demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Concio’s interest in social commerce was piqued after observing Pinduoduo’s astronomical growth in China, where it became the second-largest e-commerce company in the country less than five years after launching in 2015. Pinduoduo’s group buying model leverages users’ existing social networks, especially on WeChat, to pull together buyers for products at discounted prices, and has done well in smaller cities and rural areas.

“Resellee hopes to learn from this and be the Pinduoduo of Southeast Asia by pioneering social e-commerce and group buying in the Philippines, then expanding to Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia, where social commerce has not started yet or is still in its early stage,” Concio said.

Social commerce is well-positioned to take off in the Philippines for several reasons, he added. One is the enormous amount of time spent of social media platforms there: four hours per day, versus two and a half hours in India, and two hours in China. The Philippines has one of the youngest median ages in Asia, around 23.5 years old, and that is the demographic most likely to use social commerce, Concio said.

Another reason is that many people want to start their own businesses, or need to make side income, especially during the pandemic, but have little access to working capital. Since Resellee’s sellers don’t need to carry their own inventory and can rely on the platform’s supply chain and logistics network, that means they can launch a store without spending any money. Most of the work they need to do is convincing people on their social media networks, like Facebook or Viber, to buy from their Resellee stores.

“We believe the same hypergrowth for social commerce will happen in the Philippines given all of the above, with Resellee pioneering both social e-commerce and group buying here,” Concio said.

Resellee’s competitors include some of the biggest e-commerce platforms in the region, like Lazada, Shopee and EZBuy, which have added social commerce features. Concio said one of Resellee’s advantages is its focus on helping sellers make money, and partnerships with farmers groups and the Philippine government. This includes a project to build an online platform that will aggregate supply information from farmer’s cooperatives across the country, and match them to Resellee’s sellers and buyers, eliminating middle men in the supply chain.

Resellee initially outsourced its logistics, but Concio said its deliveries were not prioritized by carriers, which led to customer complaints, especially for fresh produce. As a result, Resellee set up its own logistics arm, called Resellee Riders, in Metro Manila, where most of its grocery customers are. This enabled Resellee to launch next-day deliveries in the area this week (orders in other places are still carried out by third-party logistics providers).

While Resellee accepts online payments, including online wallets and bank cards, most buyers prefer to use its cash on delivery option. Sellers make money through commissions, which they can transfer to their online wallets or bank accounts. Resellee’s platform also gives them the option of using the funds to buy discounted mobile or gaming prepaid loads, or top-ups, which they can also offer in their stores. Along with fresh produce, prepaid loads are one of the key parts of Resellee’s business strategy. The platform guarantees the highest commissions and discounts for mobile prepaid loads from some of the Philippines’ top providers, including Smart, Sun and TalknText.

“The mobile prepaid market is a US $ 4 billion annual market versus total e-commerce in the Philippines of only US $ 2.3 billion,” Concio said. “This is one of our key strategies to own the mobile prepaid market, other than fruits and vegetables like Pinduoduo.”

Startups – TechCrunch

StartupNation Announces Partnership with SCORE of Southeast Michigan

StartupNation is excited to formally announce a strategic partnership with SCORE of Southeast Michigan, an organization of expert business mentors that provides aspiring small business owners with the free tools they need to succeed.

As part of this partnership, SCORE of Southeast Michigan will regularly share content through an “Ask the Expert” segment on StartupNation Radio that allows members of the local small business community to call in with questions or concerns regarding their businesses. SCORE mentors and subject matter experts will field the questions and provide their insights and expertise.

Stay tuned for details as this valuable programming is rolled out in the coming weeks!


Related: StartupNation Radio featuring SCORE of Southeast Michigan and PIXO VR

StartupNation will also promote the SCORE suite of services, most significantly, the SCORE mentoring services, to our community of aspiring entrepreneurs and existing small business owners.

Hitting the ground running

Even prior to establishing a formalized working relationship, SCORE of Southeast Michigan and StartupNation have been active collaborators. StartupNation’s founder and CEO, Jeff Sloan, was a guest on a recent episode of The SCORE Podcast: Where Small Business Matters. Additionally, local volunteer Armando Ojeda has twice been a guest on StartupNation Radio.

Listen to the interviews, below!

StartupNation Radio featuring Armando Ojeda of SCORE of Southeast Michigan

WJR Business Beat featuring Armando Ojeda of SCORE of Southeast Michigan

The SCORE Podcast featuring Jeff Sloan


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Stay tuned for details as this valuable partnership continues to roll out in the coming weeks!

For more information on SCORE of southeast Michigan and to take advantage of these free resources, visit detroit.score.org.

The post StartupNation Announces Partnership with SCORE of Southeast Michigan appeared first on StartupNation.

StartupNation

StartupNation Radio featuring SCORE of Southeast Michigan and PIXO VR

On today’s episode of StartupNation Radio, Jeff chats with two entrepreneurs in the Detroit metro area: Armando Ojeda and Sean Hurwitz.

First up, Jeff welcomes Armando Ojeda, certified mentor with SCORE of Southeast Michigan, an organization that provides free mentorship, networking and educational services and resources to entrepreneurs.


StartupNation exclusive discounts and savings on Dell products and accessories: Learn more here

During the interview, Ojeda discusses:

  • How interest in entrepreneurship has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The different types of mentors available through SCORE
  • Workshops available for entrepreneurs through SCORE
  • Success stories that have come out of the local SCORE chapter
  • The new diversity initiative SCORE has implemented within its organization

For more information on SCORE of Southeast Michigan and its free resources, visit the official website.


Related: The Pappas Brothers Talk Entrepreneurship Across Industries

Next up, Jeff chats with Sean Hurwitz, CEO and founder of PIXO VR, an innovative company that offers extended reality (XR) and virtual reality (VR) solutions for B2B on a global scale.

During the show, Hurwitz shares:

  • What PIXO VR does and how the company got its start
  • His entrepreneurial background
  • The biggest problem PIXO VR is solving today
  • The importance of relying on a team to execute your company’s vision
  • The PIXO VR business model
  • The company’s new product release, PIXO Apex

For more on PIXO VR, check out the official website.

Listen to the full show here


Sign Up: Receive the StartupNation newsletter!

We’ll be back next Saturday with an all-new edition of StartupNation Radio!

In addition to weekly StartupNation Radio programming, tune in to News/Talk 760 AM WJR weekday mornings at 7:11 a.m. for the WJR Business Beat. Listeners outside of the Detroit area can listen live HERE.

Do you have a great entrepreneurial success story to share? Tell us your story here and you could be featured on an upcoming episode of StartupNation Radio.

The post StartupNation Radio featuring SCORE of Southeast Michigan and PIXO VR appeared first on StartupNation.

StartupNation

Nigeria’s Plentywaka partners local carmaker to drive Southeast expansion – Ventures Africa

Nigeria’s Plentywaka partners local carmaker to drive Southeast expansion  Ventures Africa
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News