S'pore-based payments company raises $18m

Singapore-headquartered digital cross-border payments company InstaReM has raised US$13 million (S$18 million) in a funding round led by GSR Ventures, with participation from SBI-FMO Emerging Asia Financial Sector Fund, Vertex Ventures, Fullerton Financial Holdings and Global Founders Capital.

Founded in 2014, InstaReM (short for Instant Remittance) provides digital cross-border money transfer services for individuals and businesses.

It will use the investment to build its global payment infrastructure, which has grown eight times in volume since its March 2016 round of fundraising. The funds will also be used to develop new products and licensing activities in new markets.

"We aim to make cross- border payments a level playing field for all operators in the eco-system," said co-founder and chief executive Prajit Nanu. "So, regardless of whether our client is a bank, telco, mobile wallet or a money transfer operator, by accessing our payment infrastructure, it is able to send payments to over 50 markets with full transparency on cost and destination amount."

The company intends to expand into Europe and the United States by the fourth quarter of this year. It is already licensed in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and Canada.

Fintech start-ups ink partnership

Singapore-based 4xLabs and Malaysia-based Moneybay will collaborate to develop products and services. The fintech firms will share data and take advantage of each other's networks, they said in a statement.

The firms work with money changers to display their rates online through exchange-rate aggregation and booking service platforms. 4xLabs, set up in 2011, offers two platforms: Get4x, a currency exchange- rate aggregator platform for travellers, and Biz4x, which helps money changers better manage their businesses.

The first phase of the collaboration will allow money changers to key their rates just once into Biz4x. The platform will then display these rates on Moneybay, Get4x and rate boards as well as allow money changers to accept bookings from travellers in Singapore and Malaysia.

Previously, a money changer would have had to enter its rates into multiple systems.

Image-recognition firm in largest funding round

Singapore-based image- recognition company Trax has completed its largest investment round of US$64 million (S$88.3 million) led by an affiliate of private equity firm Warburg Pincus.

The fundraising round has made Warburg Pincus the largest institutional shareholder of Trax. Several existing shareholders also took part in the round.

The funds raised will be used to drive growth across the company's core markets in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Trax's algorithm uses computer vision technology to recognise images taken of products on shelves and the way they are displayed. The algorithm can determine the availability, assortment, shelf space, pricing, promotions and shelf location, among other factors. The data can be turned into insights and recommendations to consumer goods companies and retailers.

Trax has global market coverage with over six billion product images indexed, in over one million stores across 50 countries. It serves many of the world's top consumer packaged goods manufacturers, including Coca-Cola, AB InBev, Nestle and Henkel.

"Trax has the potential to become the one-stop go-to solution for all retail info - essentially the 'Bloomberg of Retail'," said Mr Jeffrey Perlman, the managing director and head of South-east Asia of Warburg Pincus.

Marketplace platform secures $4m in funds

Validus, an online marketplace platform for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to secure short- and medium-term financing from accredited investors using proprietary algorithmic assessment, has raised $4 million from Vertex Ventures.

This comes a few weeks after Validus raised a $1 million pre-Series A round with angel investors.

Validus Capital will use the cash infusion to fund technology initiatives and enter new markets.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2017, with the headline 'Start@SG'. Print Edition | Subscribe