Singapore’s InstaReM secures $20m in first close of Series C funding

Singapore-based digital cross-border payments company InstaReM has completed the first close of its $45-million Series C funding round at over $20 million, led by Indonesia’s MDI Ventures and Thailand’s Beacon Venture Capital.

Other investors that joined the first close include existing backers Vertex Ventures, GSR Ventures, Rocket Internet and SBI-FMO Fund, the company said in a release.

The $45-million Series C round, which the company describes as one of the most significant Series C funding rounds for a fintech startup in Southeast Asia, is expected to be completed in January 2019.

The fresh capital will enable InstaReM to launch a new consumer and enterprise product in 2019. It will also be used to accelerate growth in the company’s existing markets and enable it to enter new markets in Japan and Indonesia, where it is expected to receive licenses by the end of this year.

The company’s expansion to Indonesia will be supported by new investor MDI Ventures, the VC arm of Indonesia state-owned telco firm Telkom Indonesia.

“With Indonesia’s fintech sector experiencing peak levels of growth, we believe that it is the ideal time for fintech companies, such as InstaReM, to focus on expansion throughout the country. As part of our thesis at MDI Ventures, we are keen to support InstaReM with their expansion in Indonesia and ASEAN through strategic partnership with various Telkom business units around the region,” said MDI Ventures CEO Nicko Widjaja.

InstaReM develops a digital payments platform that leverages the latest technology to help its individual and enterprise customers send money to their destinations quicker and at a lower cost than its competitors.

With regulatory licenses and approvals in Singapore, Australia, India, Europe, United States, Hong Kong, Canada and Malaysia, and its extensive global banking partnerships, InstaReM says its can potentially reach over 3.21 billion consumers and business customers across over 55 countries worldwide.

The company raised a $13-million Series B investment last year led by GSR Ventures, with participation from SBI-FMO Emerging Asia Financial Sector Fund (SBI-FMO Fund), Vertex Ventures, Fullerton Financial Holdings (FFH), and Global Founders Capital (GFC).

InstaReM’s Series C funding round will take the digital remittance fintech startup’s overall funding to over $63 million. It has previously revealed plans to go public in 2021.

In the Southeast Asia region, InstaReM’s market share is expected to be heavily challenged by an incoming competitor in the form of regional unicorn Grab. The ride-hailing major recently unveiled its cross-border remittance product under Grab Financial, which will be launched in 2019.

Calling it the region’s first wallet-to-wallet remittance product, Grab said it will allow both banked and unbanked senders to remit money instantly and securely to receivers in another country using their GrabPay wallets.

InstaReM and Grab are just two of the several companies looking to disrupt an industry that is currently dominated by incumbent money transfer operators (MTO) and financial institutions in the region.

Another Singapore-based fintech startup that has started to expand to Indonesia is Wallex Technologies, while Indonesia itself is also seeing a number of startups trying to seize the remittance market, such as ZendMoney, which is reportedly in talks with venture capital players to raise a $3-5 million Series A financing round.

Elsewhere in the region, Philippine fintech firm Voyager Innovations, which also offers mobile-based remittance services, received an investment of $175 million last month from buyout major KKR and China’s Tencent Holdings, who will both pick up a substantial minority stake in the company. The deal marked the largest investment to date in a Philippine technology company.

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