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

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.