Start Singapore: Indonesian micro-lending site's Singapore connection

Mr Aidil has co-founded UangTeman, a micro-lending platform in Indonesia to help individuals and small businesses raise funds.
Mr Aidil has co-founded UangTeman, a micro-lending platform in Indonesia to help individuals and small businesses raise funds.BH FILE PHOTO

Vertex invests in money transfer start-up

Singapore cross-border remittance start-up InstaRem has raised US$5 million (S$6.8 million) in a funding round led by Vertex Ventures.

Other investors include Fullerton Financial Holdings, a unit of Temasek Holdings, and Global Founders Capital, the venture capital arm of German Internet investment firm Rocket Internet.

The funds will be used for marketing, geographic expansion and product development.

InstaRem aims to help consumers remit money overseas quicker and without having to pay high transaction charges.

It levies a fee of about 0.5 per cent to 1 per cent for each transaction. Banks and other financial institutions charge 5 per cent or more for each transaction.

The money can be transferred faster too. For example, InstaRem remittances from Australia to India take a day, while banks can take between three and five days.

Co-founder Prajit Nanu said InstaRem will be expanding to other countries, including Malaysia, Japan, South Korea and the United States. "Our key advantages are speed of transaction and our focus on remitting money to Asian countries."

Over the last 12 months, it has transferred US$50 million in total. "We hope to handle about US$100 million money transfers by the end of this year."

The bulk of InstaRem's customers are Asians, including Indians and Filipinos who work overseas. However, Mr Prajit sees business from small and medium-sized companies which need to pay overseas-based suppliers but find transfer fees levied by financial institutions too high. The start-up's first market is Australia, where there are many migrant workers. Mr Prahit said InstaRem has grabbed about 2 per cent of the US$1 billion in money transfers from Australia to India.

All transactions on InstaRem are done online. To remit money, consumers must sign up with InstaRem. When someone in Australia, for example, wants to transfer money to his family in India, he instructs his Australian bank to pay InstaRem, which then pays the family in India.

To operate, InstaRem needs to be licensed by the financial services regulator. The start-up has a licence to operate in Australia. Mr Prajit said it has applied to the Monetary Authority of Singapore for a licence.

He hopes to hire about two staff members in Singapore to look after business expansion activities. The start-up has 20 employees, of whom 16 software developers are based in Mumbai.

Chance to find out more about entrepreneurship

Anyone keen to try his hand at being an entrepreneur should mark down April 7 in his diary.

An event at The Working Capitol in Keong Saik Road, by Building Entrepreneurs and Movers (Beam), aims to bring together aspiring entrepreneurs in a fun, insightful and inspiring way.

It is organised by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, and offers personal accounts of the journeys of start-up founders. Those attending will include investors and others from the start-up community. They will get to find out more about raising funds and creating awareness for start-ups.

To register, go to http://beamsg

Indonesian micro-lending site's S'pore connection

Mr Aidil Zulkifli, a Singaporean lawyer-turned-finance technopreneur, has co-founded UangTeman, a micro-lending platform in Indonesia to help individuals and small businesses raise funds.

His co-founder is Mr Soon Chern Chua, who is UangTeman's chief operating officer.

UangTeman (which means "money friend") lends up to 2 million rupiah (S$204) and the loan repayment is usually 30 days.

Founded last year, the start-up launched a mobile app earlier this month.

According to an E27 tech blog, about 65 per cent of UangTeman's transactions is undertaken on mobile phones.

Mr Aidil was a commercial lawyer with Duane Morris & Selvam before he founded a financial services comparison portal,, in Indonesia in 2013.

KreditAja was acquired by local fintech start-up in late 2014 for an undisclosed sum.

Grace Chng

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2016, with the headline 'Start Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe