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 FintechAsia, Gina 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.
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.