GIC joins German mobile bank N26's US$300m funding round

SINGAPORE – Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC is taking part in a US$300 million (S$406.6 million) fundraising by N26, which aims to build the first global mobile bank.

Following the Series D funding round, the fintech start-up will be valued at US$2.7 billion. The latest funding round was led by New York-based venture capital and private equity firm Insight Venture Partners and backed by several existing investors.

N26 has to date raised more than US$500 million from major global investors including Tencent, Allianz X, Li Ka-Shing’s Horizons Ventures, Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, Earlybird Venture Capital, Redalpine Ventures and Greyhound Capital.

The start-up said it will use the proceeds to drive global expansion, starting with the US launch of its mobile banking product in the first half of 2019.

Said Valentin Stalf, CEO and co-founder of N26: “Around the world, millions of people still suffer from bad banking experiences and high fees. With Insight Venture Partners and GIC joining our renowned group of existing investors, N26 has the support of the best investors globally to disrupt one of the largest industries in the world.”

N26 currently operates in 24 markets across Europe, and has more than 2.3 million customers. It is targeting to reach over 100 million customers in the coming years.

Since launching its first product in January 2015, N26 has processed more than €20 billion (S$31.1 billion) in transaction volume. Customers currently hold over €1 billion in the mobile bank’s accounts.

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Fintech start-up Jumo secures US$12.5m from investment firm Odey Asset Management

SINGAPORE – South African fintech firm Jumo has secured US$12.5 million (S$17.15 million) from London-based investment firm Odey Asset Management, bringing total funds raised to more than US$103 million.

This investment marks the close of the company’s most recent funding round. In September, Jumo raised US$52 million in the round led by Goldman Sachs and supported by France’s French Development Agency subsidiary Proparco, as well as Finnfund, Vostok Emerging Finance, Gemcorp Capital and LeapFrog Investments.

Jumo manages a platform that provides financial services – such as loans and savings products – from partner banks to individuals and small businesses in emerging markets via mobile phones.

A potential borrower’s credit risk profile is generated from behavioural data gathered through mobile networks. This helps banks that do not have data on these people to determine a credit score.

The firm said that the additional funds will be used to further develop Jumo’s technology platform and for expansion in Africa and Asia. Jumo has offices in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Zambia, Pakistan, the UK, Singapore and South Africa.

It set up its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore earlier in the year and has plans to enter several new Asian markets in 2019. Jumo chief executive officer Andrew Watkins-Ball relocated to Singapore earlier this year to oversee the company’s growth in Asia.

Since the firm’s launch in 2014, more than 10 million people have saved or borrowed on the Jumo platform, with nearly 70 per cent of them being micro and small business owners across Africa and Asia. To date, Jumo has originated almost US$1 billion in loans; it manages over 45 million customer interactions per month.

The company announced last week a partnership with Uber to launch Jumo Drive, a vehicle finance product. The credit risk score of drivers is determined by the driver’s earnings, trips and behaviour patterns, and finance for the cars is provided by bank partners on the Jumo platform.

The product has been successfully piloted in Kenya, with the intention to expand the offering across Sub-Saharan Africa in 2019.

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E-scooter sharing startup Neuron Mobility bags $5m seed funding from SeedPlus, 500 Startups, others

SINGAPORE – Singapore’s Neuron Mobility, which operates an electric scooter sharing service, has raised $5 million in seed funding from SeedPlus, 500 Startups, SEEDS Capital, ACE Capital and other angel investors and family offices.

Neuron Mobility will use the funds to expand its services beyond Singapore to across Asia-Pacific. The firm recently launched the first e-scooter sharing service in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, and will launch its service in Malaysia in December.

The company will also be developing a superior commercial grade, UL certificate-compliant e-scooter that will set a new standard for enhanced robustness and rider safety. UL certification means that the product complies with certain safety standards.

The company has a proprietary supply chain for its scooters, allowing them greater control over the manufacturing of scooters andenabling quicker scale up, said Neuron Mobility in a press statement.

Chirayu Wadke, partner at SeedPlus, said: “The co-founders impressed us with their strategy around building an e-scooter service, whichtends to be very different from ride-hailing or bike-sharing, given the short trips and charging infrastructure needed to deliver a great customer experience. Using homegrown IoT (Internet of Things), predictive analytics and network optimisation, the company is positioned favorably to rapidly expand across South-east Asia.”

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Deutsche Bank opens its first Asia-Pacific innovation lab in Singapore

SINGAPORE – Deutsche Bank on Wednesday (Nov 13) launched its first Asia-Pacific innovation lab in Singapore, and will develop ideas with start-ups for its wealth management business.

The German bank declined to disclose an investment figure for the Singapore lab.

The bank said its innovation labs are part of its drive to digitalise and embrace emerging technologies for the benefit of clients.

Fot its Singapore lab, finding the best start-up opportunities across the Asia Pacific to scale globally across the bank’s platform will be a key objective, said Deutsche Bank. It added that Singapore’s addition to the platform will ensure that the innovation needs of the bank’s Asia Pacific businesses are plugged into its global innovation platform.

The bank has other innovation labs in Berlin, London, New York and Palo Alto. Singapore’s innovation lab is the first of the labs at Deutsche Bank that will be housed within the bank itself.

Opening the Asia Pacific Innovation Lab, Deutsche Bank Asia Pacific chief executive officer, Werner Steinmueller, said: “Asia, particularly Singapore, is proving to be fertile ground for talented start-ups and we are very excited about the potential for partnerships here.”

Deutsche Bank noted that last year, US$48 billion was invested in Asia Pacific start-ups, with US$1.2 billion going into Singapore start-ups. This support indicates the level of investor appetite for innovative business solutions from the region’s entrepreneurs, it said.

Ms Jacqueline Loh, deputy managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), who officiated at the launch said: “We are pleased to welcome Deutsche Bank to the growing community of innovation labs in Singapore. Global financial institutions are crucial partners for start-ups in the development of deployable, scalable fintech solutions. We look forward to fruitful collaborations and successful fintech solutions that transform the financial services industry.”

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