Singapore: Marvelstone Tech secures $12.6m angel-backed seed investment

Visual of Marvelstone homepage. February 2016

Singapore-based Marvelstone Tech, a platform targeting the facilitation of fintech opportunities, has raised S$17.7 million (US$12.6 million) from angel investors.

The funds will be used for operations and acquisitions of fintech and financial companies under the platform.

Initially reported by FintechAsia, the startup venture is a subsidiary arm of South Korean private investment firm Marvelstone Group. The investment will see another fintech platform launched by Marvelstone in August 2015 integrated into Marvelstone Tech.

This will see Marvelstone Group consolidating and centralising its services into Marvelstone Tech.

In addition to Marvelstone Tech, Marvelstone Group maintains a Singapore-based accelerator called 10K. However, like many international and foreign firms with a base in Singapore, its focus is external and oriented towards the SME financing marketing in South Korea, with Marvelstone Tech’s core business will begin with big data-driven SME financing, slated for launch in March 2016.

Marvelstone is currently exploring other opportunities across the Asia Pacific (APAC) region. Joe Cho, founder and chairman of Marvelstone, observed that diverse expertise and in-depth understanding of how financial services operates in the Asia Pacific was a competitive advantage for them

In an interaction with FintechAsiaGina Heng, CEO of Marvelstone Group said, “We see tremendous opportunities for fintech in Asia, especially due to the 1.2 billion unbanked population, a large SME finance gap and the fragmented state of the region.”

In addition to these visible opportunities are a large SME finance gap across APAC markets and the fragmented state of financial regulations and development across the region.

Joel Ko Hyun Sik, managing partner of Marvelstone Group added, “While our focus is on acquiring and developing business under our platform, we are also happy to partner and collaborate with other fintech startups, financial institutions and corporates to bring greater value to the market.”

Ko explained that while their focus was on the acquisition and development of business under their fintech platform’s brand, Marvelstone were open to exploring partnerships and collaborative alliances with fintech ventures, financial institutions (FIs) and corporate groups.

According to Cho, Marvelstone is also planning on listing on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) within the next two to three years. This is aimed at raising funds from public capital markets to finance acquisitions of FIs, fintech startup ventures and securities firms that can add value to their platform, in addition to an asset management firm in both Singapore and Korea, according to Cho.

Also Read: Indonesia’s Lippo Group invests in Singapore fintech startup Call Levels

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Fintech prospects

In February 2014, PWC executives observed the convergence of retail financial services with social media, mobile, analytics and cloud technologies as a key fintech driver.

Predicting a cycle of significant investment by the private Banking and wealth management sector, PWC predicted that investment would be concentrated on the commercial aspects of technology, developing client relationship management tools to support advisers, and increasing digital capabilities.

Meanwhile, Vladislav Solodkiy of Life.Sreda VC is predicting strong prospects for fintech in the coming years. In a VentureBeat content piece, he opined: “The financial market has used the same tools and commerce methods for generations, and money as we know it is about 3,000 years old and has always taken the form of a physical manifestation of value (legal tender).”

He added, “Now, though, with the Internet, the way commerce works is changing, and what Netflix did to physical video sales and AWS did to bespoke server infrastructure, some key fintech company will soon do to money-based commerce.”

With blockchain estimated to secure $10 billion in financing over the course of 2016, this aligns with Ko observing in a LinkedIn content piece by Edward Musinski, chief digital officer (CDO) of Future Technology: “Financial technology is catching up speed in Asia and the developments and innovation in this area has been expanding.”

Ko added, “We see receptiveness of fintech among professionals as well as existing financial institutions, as well as government authorities, even in conservative countries in Asia.

With Cho noting the positioning of South Korea, with the solidity of its information communications technology (IT) infrastructure, cultural capital and active IPO market – Seoul’s KOSDAQ being the fourth largest secondary stock market in market capitalisation globally – its reasons to list in Singapore require a deeper evaluation, given Singapore’s IPO markets languishing compared to Hong Kong, which saw only a single listing on the mainboard in 2015.

While the Singapore bourse will naturally evolve in terms of policies, operating doctrine and global positioning within the next two to three years, with African banks exploring the cryptocurrency space, trends seeing a rapidly evolving Asian landscape, major firms like EY initiating secondment programmes and traditional banking stalwarts like Lloyds entering the fintech space, Marvelstone is positioning itself for the future with its latest moves.

Also Read: Life.SREDA, Marvelstone eye Korea with joint $20m fund

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.