Beacon Venture Capital (Beacon VC), the corporate venture capital arm of Kasikornbank PLC. (SET: KBANK), participates in US$32.5 million Series A funding round of Aspire Financial Technologies Holding, Inc. (Aspire). Beacon VC joins the pool of international investors including Y Combinator, MassMutual Ventures SEA, Insignia Ventures Partners, Hummingbird Ventures, Picus Capital. KBANK and Aspire aim to work together to digitize banking to small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and online merchants in Thailand through the investment.
Aspire is Southeast Asia’s leading SME neo banking platform. It is building a scalable marketplace banking infrastructure that leverages third-party financial service providers to create a unique digital banking experience customized to SMEs’ needs.
AspireAccount, Aspire’s flagship product targeted at digital merchants and startups across the region. It offers an instant credit limit for daily business expenses, a virtual B2B payment acceptance and other tools to help SMEs manage their cash flow. It can be opened online in just a few clicks. A business credit card is next in line. It will be available and linked to each business account this year. Aspire currently operates across Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam.
Mr. Thanapong Na Ranong, Managing Director of Beacon VC, said: “Banking to the underbanked population and SMEs is one of the core focus of Beacon VC’s investment thesis. We are impressed with Aspire team’s ability to execute and expand the business to four countries within only one and a half year. Their background in e-commerce allows them to truly understand merchants’ pain points.
With Aspire, online merchants and SMEs can access financial services to operate their businesses through their mobile phones.”
Mr. Andrea Baronchelli, Co-Founder and CEO of Aspire, said: “With a mutual goal of creating a unique digital banking experience to customers, Aspire will leverage KBANK’s infrastructure to offer a unique financial experience to customers of Aspire and KBANK. KBANK has the largest SME customer base in Thailand, but a number of SMEs still lack access to funding and customized banking services. Aspire hope to offer services, including working capital loans, digitized merchant-supplier payments, and remittance services to facilitate KBANK customers through this investment and collaboration.”
Aspire represents the eighth direct investment by Beacon VC. Its most recent investments include Thailand-based wealthtech company Jitta, Southeast Asia’s leading cross-border payment company InstaReM, and ride-hailing and financial services unicorn Grab. The investment in Aspire will be used to scale the company’s operations across Southeast Asia, including Thailand.
Aspire operates a neo banking platform. It is serving a new generation of internet businesses with a mobile-first digital account across Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam. AspireAccount offers an instant credit limit for daily business expenses and tools to help SMEs manage their cash flow effectively. It can be opened online in just a few clicks. Founded in January 2018 by former Lazada executives, the company graduated from the world’s leading startup accelerator Y Combinator in Winter 2018 batch.