Business briefs: UOB Venture leads fintech funding

UOB Venture leads fintech funding

UOB Venture Management, the private equity unit of UOB, has co-led a US$31.2 million (S$42.2 million) Series A funding round for Bangkok-based fintech start-up Lightnet.

The largest investors in the round were UOB Venture Management, Hanwha Investment and Securities and Seven Bank. Other investors included Singapore-based Hopeshine Ventures, Signum Capital and Du Capital.

Lightnet was co-founded by Chatchaval Jiaravanon, whose family runs the Charoen Pokphand Group, one of Thailand's largest companies; and former investment banker Tridbodi Arunanondchai.

The start-up provides remittance services by leveraging blockchain and connecting existing financial systems with its network of cash agents, which refers to places that can dispense cash, such as convenience stores.


India may further open up economy

NEW DELHI • India is considering further opening up its insurance and aviation sectors to foreign investors to help spur the economy, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Finance Ministry has suggested raising the limit on foreign direct investment (FDI) in insurance and pension companies to 74 per cent from the present 49 per cent and allowing foreign airlines to own Indian carriers.

It also wants to allow 100 per cent foreign investment in railway operations, education, and rental housing management companies, the people said. FDI is now prohibited in railway operations.

The government wants to increase the amount of FDI to as much as 6 per cent of gross domestic product, the people said, compared with less than 2 per cent now.


US jobless rate holds at 3.5%

US employers downshifted their hiring in December, adding 145,000 jobs as consumer spending appeared to aid gains in the retail and hospitality sectors.

The Labour Department yesterday said the unemployment rate held at 3.5 per cent for the second straight month, prolonging a half-century low. Hiring slipped after robust gains of 256,000 in November caused in part by the end of a strike at General Motors.

Still, the job growth has failed so far to put upward pressure on hourly pay. The pace of annual average wage growth slowed in December to 2.9 per cent from 3.1 per cent in the prior month, a possible sign that there is still room for more job gains.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2020, with the headline 'Business briefs'. Subscribe