Lattice80 tenants in the dark about move

Start-ups renting space at fintech hub face uncertainty as they have not been told of relocation plans

Lattice80 has plans to move to another location, but has so far kept mum about its plan to its tenants. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/ LATTICE80

What has been dubbed as Singapore's largest fintech hub is vacating its premises by December, a move that has surprised the fintech start-ups working there as they were not given due notice.

Lattice80, which runs a two-storey co-working space that provides office space to fintech start-ups, has plans to move to another location, but has so far kept mum about its plan to its tenants.

These start-ups, which pay Lattice80 rent on a lease or pay-per-use basis, are now worried that they will be evicted.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, a spokesman for Hong Leong Holdings, which owns the building where Lattice80 is located, said: "Hong Leong Holdings Limited, the owner of the building at 80, Robinson Road, will be taking back the premises located on the 8th and 9th floors, which are currently licensed to Lattice80, with effect from Dec 1."

Fintech firms there told The Straits Times that news of the move, which reached them through unofficial sources such as WhatsApp chat groups, has raised uncertainties.

Lattice80 currently occupies 30,000 square feet across the two floors, with about 85 start-ups under it as of August this year. Billed as "the world's largest fintech firm", it was founded here last November and provides office space and infrastructure to firms which work on technologies such as e-payments and blockchain.

The not-for-profit effort is led by Singapore-based hedge fund Marvelstone Group.

Word got around to tenants earlier this month that they would have until Oct 20 to move out, but The Straits Times understands that the Monetary Authority of Singapore and Singapore FinTech Association stepped in to help extend the deadline to Nov 30.

Hong Leong Holdings is scheduled to hold a town hall meeting today to address the tenants' concerns. A Hong Leong spokesman said that the firm has begun making arrangements with existing members of Lattice80 to stay on in the premises even after Dec 1.

When contacted, Lattice80 chief executive Joe Seunghyun Cho said the move is due to the company's change in plans to focus on wider fintech issues. "It is not about rental issues," said Mr Ko, when asked if tenants' claims that Lattice80 was in arrears over rent were accurate.

"Lattice80 is moving to a new building in the Central Business District to expand."

"The business model will be changed to focus on fintech funding, venture building and corporate/government innovation programmes as we are expanding globally," he added.

Mr Cho declined to give more details on where Lattice80 is moving to, and when. But he added that 90 per cent of the current tenants' contracts will end before the end of next month, and that Lattice80 is working together with Hong Leong on the handing-over of the premises. "Hong Leong is taking over the premises and will take care of the current tenants too," he said.

Two weeks ago, Lattice80 announced plans to conduct an initial coin offering next year, a type of fund-raising campaign where investors buy into a new venture using bitcoin or another cryptocurrency, instead of cash.

The company opened an outfit in India earlier this month, the first in a global expansion plan that includes offices in the Middle East later this year and London, New York and Silicon Valley next year.

Correction note: The chief executive of Lattice80 is Mr Joe Seunghyun Cho, not Mr Joe Ko. We are sorry for the error.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2017, with the headline Lattice80 tenants in the dark about move. Subscribe