What Happened to Fintech Hong Kong’s Previous Pick of the Hottest Fintech Startups?by Fintech News Hong Kong October 8, 2020
End of 2018 we named the 19 fintech startups we believed were the hottest fintechs in Hong Kong. Fast forward 2 years, we look back at these fintech companies to see what they’ve been up to and have nominated 15 new Top Fintech Startup in HK to watch.
Futu Securities, a Tencent-backed online stock brokerage, launched in August 2019 a new online wealth management service called Money Plus.
Futu Securities raised US$90 million a New York initial public offering (IPO) in March 2019, becoming the first Chinese online broker to go public overseas, according to China Money Network. The company is now looking to enter the American market.
In July it was reported that the Rosen Law Firm, a global investor rights law firm, is investigating claims that Futu may have issued misleading information to the investing public.
Assured Asset Management
Previously known as FinEX Asia, an asset management firm leveraging technology, rebranded to Assured Asset Management in September 2019 to “better communicate its increasingly global capabilities and emphasize its client-centric approach to service,” the company said.
Since early this year, the company has managed to snag two awards; “Best of the Best in Fintech Innovation in Asian Asset Management” by Asia Asset Management (AAM) and the “Best Risk Management Project” by The Asset. This was in addition to the Editors’ Triple Star Awards by the latter in 2019.
In December, Assured Asset Management launched a blockchain-based supply chain finance solution called Traceable Accounts Payable (TAP) in partnership with property developer Shui On Group.
Neat, a mobile banking platform, rolled out in February 2020 the virtual Neat Card for business customers. The virtual cards are meant to be used exclusively for online purchases. Both Neat’s physical and virtual corporate cards are linked to an app, where customers see their card’s balance and transaction records.
The Hong-Kong based startup managed to raise US$ 11 million during its Series A funding round led by the Pacific Century Group (PCG) along with investors such as MassMutual Ventures SEA and Visa.
Neat faced a setback in February 2019 following a compliance check by Standard Chartered bank which forced the startup to close an unspecified number of business customer accounts.
Gini, a fintech that specializes in smart spending-tracking, raised $1.6 million in a seed funding in January 2019, which it said it would use to support a global rollout plan. Their data enrichment technology is now available as an online software solution on AWS Marketplace for the past month.
Gini launched several new features and functionalities over the past year, including new WhatApp notifications, as well as Smart Sheet, a feature that allows users to export all their transaction data to a Google sheet. The startup also entered the enterprise segment through its Gini Enterprise brand.
CompareAsiaGroup, a company that operates financial comparison platforms across Asia, raised US$20 million in its first close of Series B1 investment in August 2019. The round was led by information services company Experian. The funding round included a partnership that gave CompareAsiaGroup access to Experian’s technology, with a goal of rolling out a range of new open banking services in Hong Kong.
In February, CompareAsiaGroup’s Filipino platform Moneymax launched in partnership with AmTrust Mobile Solutions the country’s first fully digital gadget protection program called Gadget Protect.
Blockchain and digital assets
Bitspark, a blockchain remittance startup, closed down earlier this year, citing restructuring, Hong Kong protests and the coronavirus epidemic. Bitspark had operations in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam.
FinFabrik, a fintech company that connects asset owners and investors, raised an undisclosed amount in a seed funding round led by BitMEX Ventures in February 2019. The company said the funding would be used to expand its technology platform.
In January this year, the company had announced that it would be using R3’s Corda Enterprise blockchain for its digital assets platform.
FinFabrik signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Chekk, a know-your-customer (KYC) solutions provider. The MoU encapsulates the integration of Chekk’s KYC capabilities to FinFabrik’s market infrastructure, CrossPool, enabling financial institutions in private markets to grow new digital asset businesses powered by distributed technology.
Storiqa, a crypto-marketplace that raised US$25 million in 2018, launched in January 2019 its standalone crypto wallet app, Ture, with support for Bitcoin, Ethereum and STQ, the native cryptocurrency. Since then, the startup has remained quiet.
Payment and remittance
EMQ, a global financial settlement network, has been expanding across the world over the past year. The company launched in Europe in December 2019, and recently began ramping up its presence in Southeast Asia with direct connectivity to Singapore’s Fast and Secure Transfers (FAST) network and extensive bank coverage across Malaysia.
In April 2020, EMQ announced that it had recently renewed its Major Payment Institution license by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) as well as formed a partnership with AMK, provider of microfinance services in Cambodia, to enhance its cross-border payment capabilities.
The company recently announced the close of a US$ 20 million Series B funding round led by WI Harper Group.
Several other expansions are underway across key business markets in the Middle East, Africa and the Americas.
Airwallex, a payments company originally from Australia, reached the unicorn status in March 2019 after raising US$100 million in its Series C funding round to develop additional services in the financial services space.
The company closed its extended Series D fundraising with an additional US$40 million, building on the Hong Kong-based fintech unicorn’s US$160 milion Series D round announced in April 2020. This brings its total Series D funding to US$200 million and total equity funding raised to date to over US$400 million.
Airwallex has since inked a partnership with Visa to launch a borderless card for businesses, and is now looking to raise more funding as US$18 million remains frozen in Hong Kong bank accounts after the company was involved in alleged fraud.
Big data and AI
Oriente, a fintech startup that leverages artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and data science to serve unbanked populations, has continued to expand over the past year.
Oriente recently raised US$20 million in debt financing to help it expand its online lending venture, Cashalo, in the Philippines. Cashalo is a mobile app that provides credit and online-to-offline (O2O) on-demand financing services.
In April, the company secured US$50 million in an ongoing Series B round to help grow its existing markets and drive expansion into new markets such as Vietnam.
MioTech, a startup that uses AI to generate data for investors, secured in January 2020 $15 million for its Series A+ round led by Horizons Ventures, the private investment vehicle of tycoon Li Ka-shing. The company said it would use the new funding to set up offices in Beijing and Singapore, as well as add sales staff in Hong Kong and 10 engineers at its development center in Shanghai.
In 2019, MioTech saw its client base double to 50 companies, mostly fund managers.
WeLab, a fintech unicorn specialized in alternative financing, raised US$156 million in a Series C funding round in December 2019, shortly after scooping one of Hong Kong’s new virtual banking licenses.
Following their pilot trial in 2020, WeLab has fully launched its much-anticipated digital banking services in Hong Kong, amassing over 10,000 applications in less than 10 days.
Earlier in July, WeLab had also rolled out their numberless bank card powered by MasterCard. WeLab was also ranked #11 on the 2020 CNBC Disruptor 50 list, and was the only company included from Hong Kong and just one of five from Asia.
Qupital, a trade finance platform for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), raised in March 2019 US$15 million in a Series A funding round led by CreditEase Fintech Investment Fund (CEFIF).
The company said it would use its latest funding to expand its supply chain financing products, launch in mainland Chinese cities and hire more people for its tech development and risk management teams.
Recently, Qupital announced a partnership with eBay for cross-border financing in Greater China where it will work with SMEs struggling to get loans from traditional lenders.
Compliance and Regtech
Chekk, an open eKYC platform, graduated from SOSV’s MOX program in August 2019, receiving about US$100,000 to US$120,000 in funding.
In 2019, the startup expanded and released new versions of Chekk Mobile, Portal and Web for retail and corporates, and signed more clients across Europe and Asia including Bpifrance, E-Pay Space and FinFabrik.
KYC-Chain, an all-in-one KYC and AML blockchain and banking compliance solution, inked several partnerships in 2019 including with OAX Foundation, a decentralized, digital asset ecosystem, Solex, a consultancy and technology services company, Blockreal, a crowdfunding platform, and Korporatio, a leading digital incorporations platform.
Since 2014, the company claims it has helped service providers process over 500,000 KYC applications.
Know Your Customer
Know Your Customer, an award-winning regtech solution, has signed several clients over the past year including Gateway Private Markets and CapBridge, and inked a partnership with AngelHub, among others.
They had named Aradhna Sharma as their new Head of Corporate Solutions for South-East Asia to address the increased demand for their digital onboarding solutions across the region.
The first two months of 2020 were a busy awards season for Know Your Customer, which was shortlisted for a total of seven awards across Europe and Asia. In January, the startup was the winner of the HK Economic Times’ Fintech Award in the Outstanding Identity Solution category.
As of 2020, their customer base has expanded across 4 continents, 11 sectors and 18 jurisdictions.
CoverGo, which provides an insurance product comparison platform, was recently named the winner of the Fintech Award 2019 in the Outstanding B2B Insurance Integration Solution category in February 2020, the second year in a row.
In 2019, CoverGo expanded its client base across insurance companies, bancassurance, brokers and MGAs in 4 countries, grew its product portfolio to provide an end-to-end solution for omni-channel distribution, policy admin and claims, and the most comprehensive set of insurance APIs in the market, and was accepted into the Mizuho Crowd Brain Accelerator, DBS Bank Startup Xchange and Global Fintech Hackcelerator.
Wesurance, a insurtech startup, was named the winner of the Fintech Awards 2019 in the Outstanding Intelligence OneStop Insurance Mobile App category earlier this year.
In 2019, Wesurance rolled out a one-stop insurance digital mall called GoLion where it recently partnered with Joint Electronic Teller Services Limited (JETCO) to offer insurance APIs via the latter’s API exchange platform.
GoLion is currently available in Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore.