Temasek invests $21m in Singapore’s cross-border payments firm Nium

Nium co-founder and CEO Prajit Nanu. Photo: Nium

Singapore-based cross-border payments firm Nium has raised about $21 million in fresh funding from Temasek Holdings in a mix of primary and secondary transactions.

Ossa Investments, a Temasek subsidiary, injected fresh capital worth roughly $20 million in Nium, show filings with Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).

A secondary transaction by Fullerton Financial, a wholly-owned Temasek unit, accounted for the rest. As part of the transaction, Fullerton transferred its entire stake in Nium to Ossa Investments and is no longer a shareholder of the startup.

The transaction makes Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s state investment firm with a $230 billion portfolio, the second-largest shareholder in Nium with a 22.7% stake.

Nium’s largest shareholder is Vertex Ventures, a Southeast Asian venture capital firm also backed by the Singapore state investor. Vertex Ventures holds a 27% stake in Nium across two funds –Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia Fund III and Vertex Growth Fund.

Nium could not be reached for comment.

Founded in 2015, Nium was formerly known as InstaReM, short for instant remittances. Since then, the company has scaled significantly beyond remittances, allowing businesses to send, spend and receive money to over 90 markets around the world.

According to its website, Nium can conduct real-time transactions across 65 markets in 63 global currencies. Its clients range widely across sectors such as small and medium enterprises (SMEs), financial institutions, fintech firms, e-commerce platforms and travel companies.

Nium had last disclosed raising a $41-million Series C round in March 2019 led by Vertex Growth Fund and joined by South Korean venture capital firm Atinum Investment, Indonesia’s MDI Ventures and Thailand’s Beacon Venture Capital.

The Singapore-headquartered firm also received roughly $5 million from payments giant Visa in May last year, making it the US company’s third known investment in Southeast Asia at the time after Gojek and Grab. Elsewhere in the Asia Pacific, Visa invested in the $11-million Series A round of Hong Kong-based fintech startup Neat as well as Indian fintech startups Paymate and Billdesk.

Nium’s other early backers include BRI Ventures, Global Founders Capital, GSR Ventures, SBI-FMO Emerging Asia Financial Sector Fund, MDI Ventures and Beacon Venture Capital. The firm has raised about $93 million to date.

Temasek is among the most active state-backed investors across the world. It emerged as the top tech investor in 2020, ploughing $2.3 billion into investments, particularly in industries such as e-commerce, and healthcare, and biotechnology. Its investments in Southeast Asia include Gojek, Tokopedia, Zilingo, ONE Championship, Social Bella, VN Pay and SCommerce.

Temasek is also participating in a $4 billion private investment in public equity (PIPE) offering as part of Southeast Asian ride-hailing and payments giant Grab’s merger with blank-cheque company Altimeter Growth Corp. Other investors in the fully committed PIPE are BlackRock, Fidelity, Mubadala and Permodalan Nasional Bhd.

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.