Singapore FinTechs Experienced a Flurry of Fundraising, Recording Over Half a Billion Dollars (S$650m) in M&A and Equity Funding in the First Half of 2020

SINGAPORE—

“The Singapore Fintech sector is reaching an inflection point in terms of size, investments and impact. As a global commerce center, the market is uniquely positioned to adopt technologies that streamline every aspect of finance and trade, from accounting to transfers and payments to identity and security. We’re especially excited about companies in the region that are developing new products and infrastructure that reduce friction throughout all aspects of a financial use case. Businesses that can add value in the form of recouped time, transparency, reduced costs and mitigated risk are especially relevant to the Singapore market.” – Kabir Narang, General Partner and co-Head of Asia, B Capital Group

Investments into Singapore headquartered FinTechs rose sharply in the months of April and May 2020, reversing a quiet first quarter as investors made larger bets on businesses relevant in the current environment. Total equity funding reached a record high of S$462m in 2020 YTD despite the COVID-19 crisis, reflecting strong investor confidence in the sector, according to a BCG FinTech Control Tower (FCT) analysis of FinTech equity funding data and interview with Dirk van Quaquebeke, Founding Managing Partner BEENEXT;

"Our successful fundraise of U$160m this May marks an important milestone for BEENEXT. Not only because we closed it in the eye of the COVID storm but also because we fundamentally believe that some of the greatest innovations and companies are born in a time of crisis. We are excited and ready to partner with the digital builders of tomorrow and trust that COVID will reinforce and accelerate adoption of digital across the spectrum in our markets. Singapore serves as a fantastic base to leverage these regional tailwinds."

The first-half of the year has also seen a high-level of M&A activity, with total deals exceeding S$185m. Examples include Grab’s acquisition of Bento, a B2B robo-advisor and digital wealth technology provider, GoBear’s acquisition of AsiaKredit, a consumer lending platform targeting unbanked consumers in SouthEast Asia, as well as AMTD Group’s acquisition of CapBridge, a private capital platform and Policypal, which allows users to compare and purchase insurance online.

The increase in investments is led by FinTechs in the Small Medium Enterprise (SME) banking and Technology business lines, which rose by ~210% and ~180% respectively over the same period last year. From a product vertical Payments drove a significant portion of the increase in notably SME banking. Combined, the two clusters of SME banking and Technology attracted approximately S$288m, accounting for ~60% of the total equity funding to date in 2020.

Examples of notable FinTechs within SME banking are digital financing platform Funding Societies, offering loans to local small medium enterprises in South East Asia, and digital cross-border money transfer platform NIUM, while Technology includes Dathena, a provider of AI-powered data protection solutions.

The total number of FinTech deals have fallen marginally to 41 from 44 in the first five months of 2020 compared to the same period last year. However, the average deal size has increased by ~20% to mid stage funds with growth investors rallying behind FinTechs to accelerate growth as the demands for financial activities to move online in South East Asia hit critical mass, a sentiment echoed by Yinglan Tan, Founding Managing Partner Insignia;

"With our second fund of US$200M closed last year in 2019, we are exploring this new wave of “holistic” digitalisation in South East Asia, where platforms cross-pollinate digital services across sectors. As many day-to-day transactions are moving online, consumers and businesses are demanding for the entire gamut of financial services to be online as well. This demand, strengthened in a world of social distancing, is being met by Fintech platforms designed for the digital-first or digital-only customer, with the likes of fully digital banks or dedicated asset management and business banking applications."

Reflecting this trend is a ~30% decrease in investment in seed/early stage FinTechs, while mid-stage Series C+ funding jumped by ~180% to S$177m, as investors target relatively more mature FinTechs well positioned to accelerate their growth during this period. This is in line with BCG FCT observation that the FinTech sector in Singapore has begun to reach a more mature state of growth as noted by Pauline Wray, Managing Director and Global Lead of BCG FinTech Control Tower

“As COVID-19 accelerates the move to digital, part of the recovery will mean that technology will become more prevalent in our everyday lives, this is especially true in financial services. FinTechs across the world have injected a new lease of life to financial services by supporting the financial industry as they provide value -added services and products to both new and existing customers. The 5-year effort since the first supportive policies by MAS is now coming to fruition as the FinTech ecosystem is maturing in Singapore too.”

Since 2015, the focus on FinTech by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has positioned the regional financial hub as a leader in cultivating the necessary environmental requirements and serving as a model example of how a regulatory body can implement initiatives to enable innovation.

Throughout the pandemic, the MAS, the Singapore FinTech Association and the private sector in Singapore have rallied to support FinTechs through several initiatives:

  1. Cashflows - salary subsidies and training allowance grants, rent offsetting and digital acceleration grants through the COVID-19 Support Package for FinTechs
  2. Accelerated Sales – through subsidized access to APIX, the online global marketplace and sandbox for collaboration between financial institutions and FinTechs and Proof-of-Concept grants
  3. Investment Support – alongside MAS’s Deal Friday’s dealmaking events, private sector players AMTD and Razer stepped up to establish FinTech relief funds
  4. The Special Situation Fund recently announced in the Fortitude Budget, making available an additional $285M to support start-ups across several industries, including financial services
  5. Community Engagement – "SFF: The Green Shoots Series" set up by the Singapore FinTech Festival playing a positive role in bringing the community together and providing valuable insights to frame the opportunities and challenges ahead
  6. Digital Self-Assessment Framework to fast track FinTech firms’ partnerships with Financial Institutions, promoting a suitable outsourcing relationship
  7. MAS-SFA-AMTD FinTech Solidarity Grant (S$6 million)
    https://www.mas.gov.sg/news/media-releases/2020/new-grant-scheme-to-support-singapore-fintech-firms
    FinTechs get up to $120k in grants on internships, Proof of Concepts using APIX, salary and rental support

Mr Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer of MAS, said in an interview with the FCT “As we come out of the coronavirus pandemic, FinTech has the great opportunity to make a meaningful impact in 2020 and beyond by accelerating digitalization of financial services. In spite of the challenging environment, investors’ confidence in FinTechs demonstrates a deep understanding and appreciation of the long-term value FinTechs firms will create.”

Methodology

BCG FinTech Control Tower worked closely with the Monetary Authority of Singapore to analyse Fintech equity funding data from Crunchbase, Pitchbook, Tracxn and Dealroom. FinTech companies are defined as those that offer financial services directly or provide enabling technologies to financial institutions, facilitating the provisioning of financial services.

BCG FinTech Control Tower (FCT) is a research focused unit developed jointly by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Expand Research. The FCT identifies initiatives, technologies, and companies that matter most in today’s FinTech ecosystem and assess their impact. This is completed using our internal platform that is able to ingest data from multiple sources and apply a proprietary taxonomy combined with a rigorous framework, resulting in a highly accurate and globally complete FinTech dataset. We engage directly with financial institutions, regulators, industry stakeholders and innovators, putting us at the forefront of the latest research and FinTech trends. For more information, visit us at www.fintechcontroltower.bcg.com

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