Asia’s Alternative SMB Finance Lands Investment Boom

9. November 2017.








B2B FinTech enjoyed more time in the spotlight with investors this week as companies around the globe — ranging from eProcurement to small- and medium-sized business (SMB) accounting to supply chain management startups — secured fresh funding to support growth. But Asia’s alternative SMB lending industry was the clear winner, thanks to WeLab, a Hong Kong-based firm that landed $220 million in funding this week. That’s not to say the other, smaller funding rounds in the space should be ignored, though. PYMNTS breaks down the $287 million in total funding announced by B2B FinTech startups this week.

Alternative Lending


Hong Kong’s WeLab still won’t reveal its valuation after securing another major funding round. The company announced $220 million in equity and debt financing this week, with its Series B-plus round led by the Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, the World Bank International Finance Corporation and Credit Suisse, reports in TechCrunch said.

The funding comes nearly two years after a $160 million Series B funding raise. This time around, WeLab, which operates lending platforms targeting both consumers and small businesses, said it is watching industry peers closely — especially those that go public — but stopped short of saying it was planning an initial public offering (IPO) itself.

WeLab’s platform allows borrowers to submit applications via mobile device and says it can provide nearly-instant decisions on those applications. The company uses an array of data sources, including bill payment records and social media, to assess borrowers’ creditworthiness. Its risk mitigation technology is also licensed to banks and telecoms, reports explained. WeLab says it has so far facilitated $28 billion in loans. The latest funding will be used to focus on more partnerships with banks to develop collaborative solutions, as well as to expand into Southeast Asia.

Kinara Capital

Further bolstering Asia’s alternative SMB finance industry, Kinara Capital, based in India, announced $14.5 million in Series C funding led by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Patamar Capital, as well as new backers Gaja Capital and GAWA Capital. Kinara focuses on providing microloans to small businesses, working to act in a market somewhere between microfinance and commercial lending. The non-bank financial company said it will use the investment to expand its loan product portfolio across India and to invest in technology.

B2B payments


A healthy $12 million raised by Germany’s Treasury Intelligence Solutions (TIS) will boost the B2B payments company thanks to support from 83North, Target Partners and Zobito, reports said this week. TIS operates a cloud-based platform supporting B2B transactions and cash flow management for its corporate clients. The funding will go toward product development, TIS said, and also be used to scale operations across Europe and the U.S. It already counts a few big names as some of its clients, including Office Depot, Staples Solutions and Fujitsu.

SMB Accounting


Based in the U.S., ScaleFactor provides accounting and financial management technology for SMBs. With $2.5 million in seed funding, the company just landed support from Next Coast Ventures, Techstars Ventures, Firebrand Ventures, Matchstick Ventures, Edison Factor and Flyover Capital, according to reports in VentureBeat this week. Twenty-nine million SMBs already use ScaleFactor’s machine learning-powered platform, the firm said, adding it hopes to address service gaps left by today’s SMB accountants.

“Accountants that don’t provide proactive guidance do a disservice to their clients,” said ScaleFactor CEO and founder Kurt Rathmann. Rathman added the funding will be used to focus on product development for enhanced bookkeeping and forecasting capabilities.

Supply Chain Management


With a focus on the agriculture industry, FarmLink, based in India, announced $3 million in its first institutional raise. The company provides supply chain management solutions for companies in food supply, and said it plans to develop a network of collection and service centers for the industry across India with the latest investment. Some centers are already in place, providing logistics and procurement solutions to its business customers. Pioneering Ventures and Syngenta provided the investment, reports in Inc42 said this week.

B2B eCommerce


Operating a B2B online marketplace to connect buyers and suppliers, Globality said it aims to help its businesses, especially SMBs, expand internationally and gain access to multinational firms providing goods and services. The company raised $35 million in new funding, reports this week said, which will be used to focus on its own international expansion and the launch of a new office in the U.K., according to reports in TechCrunch. Globality named both individual and institutional investors as its backers, including Al Gore and former IBM CFO John Joyce, adding the company could be a key player for SMBs that often find procurement challenging, particularly because they are considered risky customers by their suppliers.

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