Irish fintech startup First Circle gets $1.2m seed capital, to expand in SE Asia

Visual from First Circle website

Irish-led fintech startup First Circle is expanding its online lending business in the Philippines and soon across Southeast Asia after securing a $1.2 million seed round led by Dublin-and-London-based Key Capital.

Singapore-based IMJ Investment Partners, and 500 Startups in San Francisco also joined in the round.

Founded in 2015 by Patrick Lynch, formerly of Morgan Stanley, First Circle is focused on providing short-term working capital among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Philippines, a sector that comprises 99 per cent of all businesses in the country.

The startup’s other co-founders are Dutch entrepreneurs Tony Ennis and Jorrit Koop.

Operating in beta mode in the Philippines since April, First Circle formally launched its service in the Philippines barely three weeks ago.

“We’re revolutionising business financing to enable growing SMEs in the Philippines achieve their full potential,” First Circle said in its statement.

First Circle’s business model is to use technology to improve the way in which local businesses get financed, which is faster and quicker, and is easy to adjust like in making amendments, refinance, among others.

Compared with developed economies, online lending in the Philippines is just starting to grow.

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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.