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.

Take Down Traditional Finance Companies


FinAccel is a new company that aims to take down traditional finance companies proposing a different approach: enabling a credit line for online purchases.

The company is based in Jakarta, Indonesia, and essentially acts as a layer between its credit card and lending company partners and consumers buying online.

Started last year by Akshay Garg, who founded ad tech firm Komli, ex-McKinsey consultant Umang Rustagi, and Alie Tan, formerly of a number of startups, the company has raised an undisclosed seed round, which TechCrunch understands to be more than $1 million, led by Jungle Ventures to get started.

The idea behind FinAccel is to disrupt the credit industry by enabling consumers to reap the benefits with a model that fits today’s digital era.

Initially in Indonesia only, customers have 30 days to repay the amount at no added cost, but the startup is planning to introduce credit card-style payback plans soon.

We are basically putting a virtual credit in hands of five to 10 million people in next five years[…].

We want to go hard against the consumer finance companies,” Garg said. “There’s a crazy amount of bullshit marketing in the industry today” justifying the willingness to take down traditional finance companies

The goal, he explained, is more than just beating existing finance companies, FinAccel wants to unlock new consumer spending opportunities, particularly in the ecommerce space.

FinAccel has plans to be present across Southeast Asia’s six main countries with an expansion that will likely kick off next year starting with Thailand.

The lack of credit cards in emerging markets like Southeast Asia is one of the major hurdles that online commerce companies are facing.

A version of this appeared in TechCruch on June 1. Read the full article here.