Fintech SOCASH raises US$6m to expand to Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong

22 July 2019

FINTECH startup soCash is gearing up to grow its Asian distribution network after raising US$6 million in Series B funding, it announced on Monday.

The funding round was led by Japan’s Glory Ltd, and participated by global venture capital fund network Vertex Ventures as well as Standard Chartered Bank’s innovation, investment and ventures arm, SC Ventures.

soCash’s mobile app turns shops into ATM alternatives, allowing users to withdraw cash or make loan applications at the checkout. This converts the retail outlets into “virtual branches” in its network, said Hari Sivan, co-founder and chief executive of soCash.

With its new funds, the Singapore-headquartered startup will expand its distribution network in Indonesia, Malaysia and Hong Kong. It has obtained the relevant regulatory clearances in the three markets.

The startup said it is “aggressively” building its team in the three markets, to cater to demand from virtual bank players looking for a smarter distribution alternative to physical branches and ATMs.

It is looking to quickly scale up in South-east Asia and will seek to form partnerships to do so, soCash added.

“With the emergence of virtual banks and open banking, our network is well equipped to offer sales and distribution with flexibility and massive scale,” Mr Sivan said.

Glory Ltd develops, manufactures and sells high-end cash processing and retail automation machines. Minoru Higashiyama, leader of the long-term vision project team at Glory Ltd said: “We believe that the current supply chain of cash needs to transform as the transportation of cash across large distances costs billions of dollars each year, a cost largely passed on to consumers.”

“soCash’s approach of connecting retailers, banks and consumers on a platform for cash circulation is a perfect fit to Glory’s hardware and IoT (Internet of Things) business,” Mr Higashiyama added.

Meanwhile, Standard Chartered was the first bank in Singapore to partner with soCash. The bank has integrated soCash into its mobile banking app in Singapore since 2017, enabling customers to withdraw cash from the network of retail outlets as well.

Alex Manson, global head of SC Ventures, said: “Our investment in soCash will give us valuable insights into the usage and the future of cash, without conventional costly channels such as branch counters and ATMs.”

Earlier this month, the startup added ICBC to its list of partner banks in Singapore, which also includes Standard Chartered, DBS and POSB.

Its cash network platform in Singapore now comprises more than 1,400 shops.

Vertex Ventures was the sole investor in soCash’s US$5.5 million Series A round in August 2018.


SC Ventures launches first venture: Solv

22 July 2019

Standard Chartered Innovation Fund eyes FinTech investments in the region

The lender is building a venture portfolio focused on digital transformation in finance

13 June 2019

SC Ventures, a fully owned subsidiary of Standard Chartered, is currently in talks with potential partners to jointly invest about $100 million (Dh367m) each in three financial sector start-ups and is scouring Middle East and Africa for more co-investment options.

"We are now working on at least three ventures [start-ups] that could involve partnerships and third party investments,” Alex Manson, the head of SC Ventures told The National, without specifying the geography of potential transactions.

The ticket size of the joint investments depends on the nature of the venture but the funds raised for the deals being negotiated will be less than $100m, he said, adding that the bank is “resisting the urge to throw too much money” at any one company and wants to help scale the start-ups with the help of partners and co-investors.

Standard Chartered has already partnered with PCCW, Hong Kong Telecom Trust and Ctrip Financial Management to launch a new digital-only retail bank in Hong Kong, which was among the first to receive a licence to operate from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. Standard Chartered holds 65.1 per cent in the joint venture, while PCCW, HKT and Ctrip Finance hold 10, 15 and 9.9 per cent, respectively.

Mr Manson has met some of the bank’s strategic clients and investors in the UAE and sees potential investments in the second-biggest Arab economy.

“This place is ready,” he said.

“There’s lots of ideas and energy behind financial innovation in this market ... there are a number of things we want to follow up in the UAE” in terms of deals, he added.

The lender, Mr Manson said, is looking to co-invest in start-ups across its footprint of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

“I anticipate that at any point in time we will have 10 to 15 ventures in our portfolio [in different stages of growth] … But we are at an early stage of building that portfolio,” he said, declining to specify the total amount of funds earmarked for investments in ventures.

Banks are increasingly looking to establish dominance in digital services and next-generation technologies in a bid to simplify and speed up transactions. Conventional lenders are also looking to set up their own neo-banks – digital-only banks – or bring on board financial technology (FinTech) firms to incorporate their faster and cheaper solutions in their respective banking services.

Alex Manson, head of SC Ventures. Courtesy Standard Chartered Bank
Alex Manson, head of SC Ventures. Courtesy Standard Chartered Bank

SC Ventures, established in 2017, is also taking minority stakes in FinTech firms through its $100m innovation investment fund, which Mr Manson said is on course to be fully invested by the end of 2020. Increasing the size of existing FinTech investments is an option, he said.

SC Ventures has already invested undisclosed amounts in FinTechs such as Ripple and Paxata. Its typical investment at an early stage FinTech is $5m or less as it participates in follow-on funding rounds as well.

“In the FinTechs that we work with, we only take minority stakes and that is with the view to partner and help them scale,” Mr Manson said.

“Our objective is to rewire the DNA of banking and transform it … to bring the capabilities [of FinTech ventures] to the main [Standard Chartered] bank,” he noted.


Messaging platform Symphony raises US$165m from Standard Chartered

12 June 2019

SYMPHONY Communication Services, a messaging platform backed and used by Wall Street banks, on Wednesday said it has raised US$165 million in new capital as part of its Series E funding round to bolster growth in Asia.

Standard Chartered and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group were added to the existing stable of investors that include Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Credit Suisse Group and Morgan Stanley. In a statement, Michael Elanjian, head of digital strategy and fintech, Corporate and Investment Bank, JPMorgan, said the bank has repeated its support for Symphony, with the platform driving "meaningful transformation" in the industry.

The latest funding brings its total capital raised to date by Symphony to more than US$460 million.

The platform allows for secure and compliant messaging in the office and on-the-go among traders, and creates automated workflows for banks. Its messaging system has, in part, been billed as a competitor to the system offered by Bloomberg due to its pricing. 

Symphony's basic communications service starts at US$20 monthly for enterprise clients, a fraction of the thousands of dollars that banks are charged by Bloomberg for access to chat tools bundled with stock price information and news.


Fintech Bridge: Connecting the Dots

30 April 2019

Today's guest is Marion Bernardi - Fintech engagement lead at SC Ventures, a Standard Chartered Bank business unit that promotes innovation, invests in disruptive financial technology and explores alternative business models for the financial industry.

Marion tells us about the recent launch of the SCVentures Fintech Bridge - a platform that connects and matches partners from the fintech ecosystem to the Bank’s internal community. It’s not always easy for startups and banks to work together and the Fintech Bridge seeks to facilitate and accelerate this process. In our conversation with Marion we explore the differences between Europe and Asia when it comes to the way startups see the financial ecosystem, and we discuss the appetite of Fintech startups to move into the ASEAN market.

Learn more about the SCVentures Fintech Bridge here :


We’ve launched our 5th eXellerator lab in Kenya

8 April 2019

Standard Chartered Bank today announced the official opening of its Africa eXellerator lab, an innovation hub that will serve as a platform to collaborate with fintechs in Kenya and the broader African region, drive innovation and develop new business models or services to meet client needs in the Africa region. This furthers adds to the Bank’s other eXellerator labs located in Singapore, Hong Kong, London and San Francisco.

Powered by SC Ventures, the Bank’s innovation, ventures and investment unit, the Africa eXellerator lab has been established at the Bank’s Kenya head office in Chiromo, Nairobi, where fintechs can closely workshop new technologies and solutions.

Speaking during the launch of the Africa eXellerator, Standard Chartered Kenya’s Chief Executive Officer, Kariuki Ngari, said: “We are a connector bank – connecting clients, markets and products with networks and facilitating trade and investment across our global footprint across some of the fastest growing markets. We are establishing an innovation centre in Kenya – the Africa eXellerator lab, to develop better products and services for our clients. For example, we will focus on developing solutions in artificial intelligence, cyber security and ‘Banking Made Easy’, to ensure we provide the best possible services to our clients of today, and tomorrow.”

Speaking at the same launch event, Global Head, SC Ventures, Alex Manson, said: “Banking is all about serving clients in the way they want to be served. We are rewiring the DNA in banking both in and outside the Bank, including an extended team of partners as good ideas and great execution come from everywhere. Our eXellerators provide the tools and environment to develop, experiment and validate new ideas and business models emerging from both our own intrapreneurs and our partners.”

SC Ventures’ Africa Region Lead, Kennedy Mubita, said: “The Africa eXellerator’s key mission is to generate value by emulating intrapreneurial, human centred and technology skills across the Bank’s franchise in Africa. The high digital adoption rate and vibrant fintech ecosystem, coupled with our strong client franchise, make for an exciting landscape for client co-creation, partnerships and innovation in Kenya, which will have applications across the Africa region.”

Standard Chartered has been co-creating solutions and establishing new partnerships to improve client experience and change how we approach and think about banking. Following the successful pilot launch of its digital retail bank in Côte d’Ivoire last year, the Bank has further rolled out digital-only retail banks across Africa this year, in Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana and Kenya. Most recently, the Bank announced the establishment of a joint venture with PCCW, HKT and Ctrip Finance to deliver a new standalone digital retail bank in Hong Kong. It also announced it will be launching an open platform for Small and Medium Enterprises in India, to help them grow by providing access to a range of financial and business solutions, as well as the SC Ventures Fintech Bridge, a market-first online platform, through which the Bank seeks partnerships with fintechs to solve business challenges.

For further information please contact:

David Lawrence
Standard Chartered Bank Kenya
+254 203 294 045


SC Ventures' Hari Rajmohan & Marion Bernardi talk to Pitchdeck Asia

1 April 2019

ATP tour visited the offices of SC Ventures in Standard Chartered Bank for the Pitchdeck Asia Startup Ecosystem tour to have a conversation with Hari Rajmohan, Marion Bernardi & Rene Michau. SC Ventures defines itself as a team working towards “rewiring the DNA in banking”. They invest in fintech startups and promote rapid testing & implementation of new business models.

Over the next 50 mins, they talk about how with the backing of Standard Chartered Bank & a US$100 Million fund, SC Ventures is spearheading fintech projects across various verticals of the bank by partnering with many fintech startups and promoting innovation across multiple divisions within the bank.

Listen to the entire episode to know more in depth about their work, on how startups get in touch with them to collaborate, their learnings, future plans and also get some insight into the type of startups with whom they work.

We would love to hear back from you, do leave us a review on our shows and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel nd hit the like button to support us.


We've launched our SC Ventures Fintech Bridge

New portal to tap best solutions from fintech ecosystem, combining with Bank’s innovation

18 March 2019

Singapore – SC Ventures, the innovation, ventures and fintech investments unit of Standard Chartered Bank, has created a market-first platform to connect community builders such as start-ups, investors and accelerators to the Bank.

SC Ventures Fintech Bridge connects and matches partners from the fintech ecosystem to the Bank’s internal community, where they can propose solutions to challenges posted by the Bank’s business units or request for investments. Investors can also use the portal to recommend start-ups to the Bank for future collaborations. This simple and fast process means that start-ups can move from initial application to final selection within just three months.

SC Ventures Fintech Bridge has made four commitments:

  • Direct connection to the right people – Standard Chartered facilitates the start-up journey by helping them get to scale
  • No time wasted – A quick process to matchmake start-ups with the bank
  • Funding guaranteed for proof of concepts (PoCs) – All challenges on the platform are funded by a business sponsor for testing the solution
  • Exposure to our markets – Start-ups have the opportunity to test in different markets across the Bank’s connected network, and the possibility of securing further partnership investment

Alex Manson, Head of SC Ventures, said: “We understand how frustrating it can be for fintech start-ups to find the right people to take their solution forward. We also recognise that the best ideas can come from everywhere, not just inside, but also outside the bank and we need them to transform the bank. SC Ventures Fintech Bridge plays into our desire to continuously look for new opportunities to collaborate and partner with outstanding and creative talent across our footprint to solve our challenges.”

Marion Bernardi, who leads fintech engagement at SC Ventures, said: “Our partnership with start-ups is not only about running PoCs, but also helping them to achieve scale. The fintechs who have worked with us appreciate how we have helped them navigate through a big corporation like Standard Chartered. SC Ventures Fintech Bridge gives us the capacity to broaden our connections to the global fintech ecosystem to seek out the best partners.”

SC Ventures Fintech Bridge is for fintechs who want to work with Standard Chartered Bank and gain new clients. It is a global platform supported by a connected network across Asia, Africa, Middle East, and Europe through the Bank’s footprint. Through this single portal, Standard Chartered is ready to share its challenges, and offer direct connections at a global scale for collaborations and future partnerships.

Standard Chartered has been driving innovation in the banking space, co-creating solutions to improve client experience and establishing new partnerships and solutions to change how we approach and think about banking. Standard Chartered set up SC Ventures, a business unit to promote innovation, invest in disruptive financial technology, and explore new business models.

For further information please contact:
Rachel Lin
Head, Innovation, Tech & SC Venture Communications
+65 6596 4330


Partnering with PCCW, HKT and Ctrip Finance to build a new virtual bank in Hong Kong

17 March 2019

Joint venture granted virtual bank licence

Hong Kong – Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited (“Standard Chartered”), PCCW Limited (“PCCW”), HKT Trust and HKT Limited (“HKT”) and Ctrip Financial Management (Hong Kong) Co., Limited (“Ctrip Finance”) today announced the establishment of a strategic joint venture to deliver a new standalone digital retail bank in Hong Kong. The joint venture will be conducted under a new entity, which today was granted a licence to operate a virtual bank in Hong Kong by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (“HKMA”).

Standard Chartered will hold 65.1% in the joint venture, while PCCW, HKT and Ctrip Finance will hold 10.0%, 15.0% and 9.9% respectively. The joint venture will draw on the partners’ respective strengths to reach a broader spectrum of customers and to redefine the digital banking experience in Hong Kong by:

  • Integrating virtual banking into the service offerings to PCCW’s, HKT’s and Ctrip’s well established customer bases
  • Providing a suite of retail financial services and products, as well as unique telecom, entertainment and travel propositions from partners all in one place
  • Offering services that are personalised to customers’ circumstances, interests and needs
  • Ability to open accounts and apply for financial services on-the-go in real-time

Subject to regulatory approval, the Board of Directors will comprise Mary Huen (CEO of Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited) as Chairman of the Board, Susanna Hui (Executive Director and Group Managing Director of HKT), Janet Feng (CEO of Ctrip Finance and Senior Vice President of Ctrip Group), Dr Michael Gorriz (Group Chief Information Officer of Standard Chartered Bank), Samir Subberwal (Regional Head of Retail Banking, Greater China and North Asia of Standard Chartered Bank), Deniz Güven (CEO of the Virtual Bank) and three Independent Non-Executive Directors.

Mary Huen said: “As the oldest note issuing bank in Hong Kong, Standard Chartered has been serving the community for 160 years. Today, we are delighted to be among the first to receive a virtual bank licence from the HKMA and we are excited to partner with PCCW, HKT and Ctrip Finance. The strengths of our partners combined with our own rich banking expertise mean that we are in a strong position to provide diverse financial solutions to redefine the banking experience for customers in Hong Kong.”

Susanna Hui added: “As a trusted service provider and innovator, the addition of banking services to our digital ecosystem highlights an essential part of our integrated platform for consumers and merchants, and is a natural extension of our product offerings and relationship with our customers. We look forward to working with Standard Chartered and Ctrip Finance to provide a seamless and secure digital platform for customers to manage their financial matters.”

Janet Feng said: “Fully digitised retail banking is an innovation with extremely exciting implications for the travel industry, and Ctrip Finance is delighted to partner with Standard Chartered, PCCW and HKT to launch a new virtual bank in Hong Kong. The new initiative is set to provide Ctrip customers with a travel experience that is more comprehensive in service and convenient to use. Ctrip Finance remains committed to providing the most timely and professional financial services to travellers.”

For further information please contact:
Gabriel Kwan
Standard Chartered
+852 2820 3036

Ivan Ho
PCCW Group / HKT
+852 2883 8747 International, ltd.
International PR
+86 21 3406 4880 ext 196455