Japan’s Saison Capital leads $10m funding in SG-based fintech startup Helicap

Singapore Dollars | Photo: Reuters

Helicap, a Singapore-based fintech platform operating in the alternative lending market in Southeast Asia and Australia, has raised $10 million in a Series A round, its co-founder and CEO David Z Wang told DealStreetAsia.

The round was led by Saison Capital, the corporate venture arm of Japanese financial services firm Credit Saison. Others who participated in the funding round include its existing backer East Ventures and new investors Access Ventures and multi-family office Lamivoie, besides a host of high net worth individuals (HNIs).

“It was challenging in the current climate; hence we are delighted to complete the transaction. We have attracted committed investors since the day we started the business,” said Wang.

Following the latest investment, Kosuke Mori, managing director at Credit Saison Asia Pacific and managing partner at Saison Capital, has joined Helicap’s board of directors.

“Saison Capital was founded with the aim of investing in founders who are building ecosystems that can distribute financial services to the underbanked, and that is exactly what Helicap is facilitating with its unique fintech engine,” said Mori. The firm invests across seed to Series A levels in companies across Southeast Asia and India.

DealStreetAsia had reported Helicap’s fundraising plans and its roping in Access Ventures for its latest round in March.

The investment brings Helicap’s total funding to almost $18 million.

The funds raised will help the company enhance its proprietary credit scoring technology and explore solutions and opportunities in the private debt space.

“We may explore asset-backed security lending and distressed debt to help support growth companies navigate the current crisis,” said Wang.

On the ripple effect of the novel COVID-19 outbreak on the industry, Wang pointed out to an imminent consolidation. “We expect consolidation in fintech lending as companies are encouraged to increase partnership and jointly pool resources to survive and grow.”

Earlier this month, Helicap made headlines for roping in Ilham Akbar Habibie as a special advisor to the company’s board of directors. Habibie is the chairman of Bank Muamalat and will be advising Helicap on the Indonesian market, one of the company’s target areas.

“As a strong believer in the future of digital financial services, I am very keen to be partnering with and advising a fintech-driven company like Helicap,” said Habibie.

Helicap provides an alternative lending platform to fill the credit gaps faced by consumers and corporates currently underserved by traditional financial institutions. It aims to fill the $500 billion MSME credit gap by facilitating lending capital to over 300 million unbanked and underbanked people in the region. Its subsidiaries Helicap Investments and Arcor Capital provide curated access to alternative debt investments for a wide network of investors including family offices, HNWs, Impactunds, and institutional investors.

Helicap had, in 2018, raised $5 million in its pre-Series A funding round co-led by early-stage investor East Ventures and Singapore real estate conglomerate Soilbuild Group Holdings.

Prior to that, it had raised a sum of $1.5 million in its seed funding round from Teo Ser Luck, Singapore’s former minister of state for manpower, and Nufin Data.

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.