Hong Kong start-up Oriente raises $145m in funding

Fintech firm to develop products, extend reach in South-East Asia

Hong Kong-based financial services and technology company Oriente has completed a US$105 million (S$144.7 million) initial funding round, it said yesterday.

Investments came from the founders and a group of family offices, including members of Malaysia's Berjaya Group, JG Summit Holdings of the Philippines and Indonesia's Sinar Mas.

It is said to be one of the largest initial funding rounds by any start-up in Asia, and also for a fintech company worldwide.

Oriente said the financing is being used to accelerate technology and product development, scale multi-market operations and power the growth of its digital solutions into new markets, expanding its reach in South-east Asia's fastest-growing economies.

The start-up uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science to build solutions that provide real-time credit scoring, digital and online to offline lending and other tailored financial services.

In the past few months, the company has rolled out two app-based ventures - Cashalo in the Philippines and Finmas in Indonesia. These are aimed at delivering fast and convenient access to affordable credit to millions of underserved people in the emerging middle class, and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, said the firm.

According to Oriente, smartphone users in these markets can download these apps, apply for a loan, and receive a decision and financing within minutes.

Oriente said the financing is being used to accelerate technology and product development, scale multi-market operations, and power the growth of its digital solutions into new markets, expanding its reach in South-east Asia's fastest-growing economies.

Mr Geoffrey Prentice, co-founder of Oriente, said the start-up was founded on the principles of inclusion and innovation to open financial access, freedom and opportunity for underserved people and micro-entrepreneurs, helping them build financial identities and participate in the global economy.

Oriente was founded last year by Mr Prentice, former Skype co-founder and chief strategy officer; Mr Hubert Tai, Oriente's chief executive and former founding chief technology officer and chief operations officer at LU.com and Mr Lawrence Chu, founder of BlackPine Private Equity.

The company now has more than 1,200 employees across offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei, Manila, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2018, with the headline 'HK start-up Oriente raises $145m in funding'. Print Edition | Subscribe