soCash, a Singapore-based fintech startup, has snatched a seed round of $400,000 to become the ‘last mile’ for banking services and ecommerce. The startup will release an app aimed to connect small shops into a scalable network for cash withdrawals as part of a product roadmap that is aimed at working with banks to extend cash distribution beyond ATMs.

The proceeds from global angel investors will fund the acceleration of their product development and expansion of their network to 1000 ‘cashpoints’ within the city-state.

In Singapore, demand for cash is growing at 9%.

“Contrary to the prevalent narrative, data from central banks show that cash usage is growing globally. Consumer preference poses an expensive challenge for banks to meet this increase in demand for cash. soCash’s platform is a superior digital alternative for efficient access to cash,” said Rekha Hari, Managing Director of soCash.

The company claimed to be at various stages of engagement with leading banks in Asia and the US to integrate the software into their digital banking platforms.

“Our business model – transaction fees and network monetization. soCash is significantly cheaper than ATM transaction, so banks pay us a transaction fee, which we share with the cashpoint. As we build our network of cashpoints across cities, we are building a last mile capability to banks and ecommerce companies, ” said Hari.

“Our pitch to banks is this. For large banks with existing ATM network, we can offload 25% of their ATM volumes, especially in residential areas. For banks betting on fully digital banking models, our pitch is to make cash ubiquitous via soCash platform rather than investing in their ATM infrastructure,” she added.

The company will be expanding the venture to either Hong Kong or Malaysia, with long-term plans to expand to India and Indonesia once they have sufficient critical mass.

A version of this appeared in Deal Street Asia on July 10. Read the full article here.

Vietnamese Government proposes separate stock exchange for startups

Hanoi’s co-working culture is facilitating SMEs and small startups Source:

The Vietnamese government proposed to set up a separate stock exchange for the country’s startups and SMEs, as reported by Tech Wire Asia. The National Financial Supervisory Commission (NFSC) and the State Securities Commission had been planning to establish a stock exchange for startups within the next few years.

This proposal, however, has been met with criticism from industry players. This is mainly due to Vietnam’s arguably small scale startup scene that is far from ready to be listed on the stock exchange, as the average startup valuation has remained below US$10 million.

Every company needs to meet a lot of requirements to be listed on the stock exchange, and most startup companies would be unable to do so. – Do Hoai Nam, Founder of ‘Up’ Co-working Space

Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue has expressed support for a separate stock exchange, as he feels that it would create favorable conditions for startups to thrive. The Deputy Prime Minister also adds that the government will be setting up institutions that will help SMEs get off the ground.

The government’s initiative, although positive in terms of startup and SME support, hints at a lack of understanding in startup infrastructure. As startups are difficult to value, it will be difficult to list on the stock exchange.

Vietnam should customize regulations to include big startups into the existing stock exchange- Cao Quy Vu Anh, CEO of ‘Fundstart’ crowdfunding platform


A version of this appeared in Tech Wire Asia on June 27. Read the full article here.