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Singapore FinTechs off to 'flying start' in 2021; have raised $656 mil in equity funding following record year in 2020

Felicia Tan
Felicia Tan5/21/2021 04:45 PM GMT+08  • 4 min read
Singapore FinTechs off to 'flying start' in 2021; have raised $656 mil in equity funding following record year in 2020
The higher figure reported in the 1Q2021 was attributed to Grab’s Series A round of over $417 million in January.
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FinTech companies in Singapore are off to a “flying start” in 2021, having raised some $656 million in equity funding in the 1Q2021, 355% higher than the amount raised in the 1Q2020.

The figure represents some 46% of the total funding raised in 2020, which raised a record-breaking $1.4 billion in Singapore.

This comes after five years of accelerated growth in equity funding for the local FinTech ecosystem with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 47% from 2016 to 2020.

The higher figure reported in the 1Q2021 was attributed to the Grab Financial Group’s Series A round of over $417 million in January to continue building its digital financial services.

Other large rounds include a $41 million Series B rounds in payment processing gateway Xfers and imToken, a DLT-powered decentralised digital wallet and exchange.

In addition, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)-licensed platform Endowus has raised $23 million in its Series A round.

According to BCG, FinTechs in the retail banking, capital markets and technology sectors have gained the most number of funds in the 1Q2021 so far.

“We’re happy to see that Singapore Fintechs continue to attract increasing amounts of funding and we see this trend continuing even stronger in the future,” says Shadab Taiyabi, president of the Singapore Fintech Association.

“The fertile ground created by the progressive Singapore regulators, as well as the network effect and collaborative ecosystem offers a unique environment for visionaries and entrepreneurs to build and grow their Fintech businesses out of Singapore, and SFA is working to provide even more support in the journey,” Taiyabi adds.

In 2020, the largest three rounds include a $396 million around in AMTD Digital, an undisclosed Series C round in digital cross-border money transfer platform NIUM and a $41.7 million Series C round in peer-to-peer lending platform Funding Societies.

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Five Series C rounds – including NIUM, Funding Societies and StashAway – were raised in 2020, showing that the FinTech ecosystem in Singapore is “gradually maturing”, says BCG.

“What we’ve seen in 2020 is the acceleration of existing trends in FinTech, which has been bolstered by significant increases in investment and capital available in the region in recent years. We were likely going to get to this point in FinTech adoption eventually, but necessity has forced change almost overnight in some areas. For example, in terms of how people purchase goods, lockdowns have forced the adoption of cashless payment options,” says Amra Naidoo, co-founder and general partner of Accelerating Asia.

“FinTechs were able to pivot and adapt quickly to deliver specialised services that customers needed. As a result, investor interest has continued to be strong in FinTech companies,” he adds.

“The record investment in the FinTech sector in 2020 demonstrates the depth and growing maturity of Singapore’s FinTech ecosystem. Despite the challenges brought about by Covid-19, the FinTech sector, with the support from various resiliency programs, leveraged the fast-growing digital shift of the Asian economy to anchor itself on a sustainable path of growth,” says Sopnendu Mohanty, chief fintech officer of MAS.

In addition, the FinTech scene in Singapore is set to grow from “strength to strength”, says BCG, as it welcomes a new era of digital banking.

Singapore was the first country in Southeast Asia to issue digital banking licenses with the aim of harnessing new technologies to “improve financial inclusion, drive innovation and encourage competition,” says the report.

The announcement attracted strong interest among companies with 21 applications submitted.

“International players view Singapore as a strategic gateway to the region due to the availability of capital, favourable business environment, strong technology and banking talent pool, and a robust licensing application and vetting process which provides successful applicants with a credibility ‘brand premium’,” says Pauline Wray from BCG FinTech Control Tower.

“While the Singapore market alone is relatively small, the large underbanked and unbanked population in the region is a huge opportunity. With an emerging middle class and a young and digitally engaged demographic, neighbouring countries are attractive markets for digital services,” she adds.

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