Omise, a Bangkok-based payment enabler much like Stripe, has raised a $17.5 million Series B round to expand its reach across Southeast Asia, reports TechCrunch.

The company proves a payment gateway system that allows any retailer take credit card payments online. Omise isn’t releasing any figures for its business but Harinsut said the company can reach profitability inside the the next year.

The company offers its service in Thailand and Japan (the birthplace of CEO Jun Hasegawa), but there are plans to expand to Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, where it has carried out closed testing.

Omise funding history

This new round, which is one of the largest for a fintech company in Southeast Asia to date, was led by Japan-based SBI Investment, with participation from Sinar Mas Digital Ventures (SMDV) in Indonesia, Thailand’s Ascend Money (affiliated with mobile operator True), and existing backer Golden Gate Ventures. Omise has now raised over $25 million, including a $2.6 million Series A in May 2015 andundisclosed round from Golden Gate Ventures last October, right after the Singapore-based VC firm announced a new $50 million fund.

Competitive e-payment market

There are many rivals, including 2C2P which raised $7 million last year and ispowering a social commerce trial with Facebook. Stripe, meanwhile, is in the region, but it appears to be working on creating demand in the U.S. from overseas via its Atlas project, rather than going for a full-on localization approach.

Unlike its local competitors, Omise is solely focused on digital payments and not cash.

Around 60% of payments online right now in Southeast Asia.

He explained that the challenge is about reaching suitable scale. Omise makes its money by charging 3.65% on transactions, with a one dollar fee for up to $60,000 (1 million THB) withdrawn, but it offers flexible packages for larger customer.

A version of this appeared in TechCrunch on July 21. Find the original version here.

fintech opportunity in Southeast Asia


South Korea is being left out of a global wave of fintech alliances due to its inward-focused strategy and a lack of deregulatory reforms to respond to market changes. But the country aims to become Asia’s fintech center by building a “fintech bridge” with major nations, especially to seize the opportunity in Southeast Asia.

South Korea is trying to catch up with the global trend. On June 15, the Fintech Center of Korea, an affiliate of South Korea’s Financial Services Commission, hosted a Fintech Demoday in Singapore to promote Korean fintech firms’ entry into Southeast Asia.

However, Korea’s approach to seize the fintech opportunity in Southeast Asia does not seem to be in the right direction from two aspects:

  1. The strategy is focused too much on exporting Korean fintech abroad, rather than creating a financial innovation ecosystem through regulatory reforms and cooperation with other countries.
  2. Direct discussions are not being held among regulators. For meaningful alliances to create a more vibrant fintech ecosystem, it is important to clear regulatory hurdles through binding agreements between financial regulators.

Jeffrey Jones, an international lawyer specializing in finance comments,

It is very sad that we have one of the most tech-savvy populations on the globe, but the legal and regulatory system prevents this population from developing products and services that could create jobs for so many young people.

Such concern comes as global financial centers such as Singapore, Australia and the UK have joined hands to bolster the fintech industry and solidify their leadership position as global financial hubs. On June 16, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission signed a contract to boost cooperation on financial innovation.

In May, Singapore and the UK also agreed to form a “fintech bridge” to foster financial innovation.

A version of this appeared in Korean Times on June 22. Read the full article here.

Firms in Vietnam Adopt IFRS

Source: dealstreetasia

As the demands from World Bank, IFC and foreign investors become unavoidable, firms in Vietnam are required to adopt International Financing Reporting Standards (IFRS) in 2020. The application of the international system will be required first by firms listed in HCM City and Hanoi’s stock exchanges.

Evidence showed that the switch to IFRS brought important economic results, with long-term benefits outweighing short-term costs and implementation challenges. The benefits include transparency, accounting quality, comparability and market liquidity among others, a finance ministry official has said. By 2018, Vietnam should have the required legal framework for applying international financial reporting standards.

Inefficient financial regulatory controls

In Vietnam, accounting standards are issued by the Ministry of Finance of Vietnam and are known as “Vietnam Accounting Standards”. The Department of Accounting and Auditing Policy of the Ministry of Finance has formed the Vietnamese Accounting Standards Board (VASB) to develop and approve the standards.

The Ministry of Finance states that it takes International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) into account in developing Vietnamese Accounting Standards . However, the IASB website states clearly that Vietnam has not yet adopted the IFRS or the IFRS for SMEs. Some Vietnamese companies prepare IFRS financial statements for the purpose of reporting to foreign investors. However, those IFRS financial statements are supplementary financial statements published in addition to – not instead of – financial statements prepared using VAS. 

The lack of the international reporting standard subject businesses in the country to additional work for their statutory reporting commitments and harm the domestic Vietnamese business by restricting their access to foreign capital.

This change in regulation hopes to attract more foreign investment in Vietnam.

A version of this appeared in AmCham Vietnam on June 17. Read the full article here.