Issue 10

Captii Ventures leads seed round into Malaysian online payments startup Curlec

Multi-stage investor Captii Ventures has led a seed funding round into Curlec, a Malaysia-based online direct debit payments company, according to an official release. 

Terms of finance of the investment were not disclosed. Curlec plans to use the proceeds to further grow its Malaysian operations and expand its presence in the SME market. Launched in early 2018, Curlec makes it easy for businesses to collect recurring payments and take control of their cash flow. 

Curlec now enables businesses of all sizes to access this payment mechanism by providing a simple, online solution that offers APIs to automate the entire collection workflow. “I believe that this new addition into Captii Venture’s portfolio will bring great value to the payments ecosystem, initially in Malaysia and later throughout Southeast Asia,” said Ng Sai Kit, Chief Executive of Captii Ventures. 

“There is a large opportunity in this space, as direct debit has traditionally been the hardest payment method for businesses and consumers to access prior to the introduction of Curlec. We have been tracking Curlec’s progress since as early as March 2018 and they have achieved significant milestones to date,” he added. 

Curlec, a VC-backed fintech company, offers a simple solution for collecting direct debit & FPX payments online, allowing businesses to be in control of when they get paid. “Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, particularly with SME companies, and up until now collecting payments has been incredibly admin-heavy and expensive. 

SMEs have traditionally been underserved by banks, so we are stepping in to provide a simple solution that takes the pain out of collecting payments so they can focus on growing their business,” said Zac Liew, co-founder and CEO of Curlec. 

Captii Ventures invests in marketplaces, new media, fintech, agritech & enterprise applications. Its investments include Curlec, Digify, PouchNation, AzStack, Shoppertise, Mimosatek, BFab, Avana, Alterra, UangTeman, Sorabel, Muslim Pro, Sendhelper, OnOnPay and Computer Guys.


From – Deal Street Asia


InnoSpace Thailand aims to invest in 50 startups this year: Report

InnoSpace Thailand aims to invest in 50 startups this year, according to a Bangkok Post report. The Thai venture capital firm is a public-private sector venture supported by the Thai Industry Ministry. 

According to the report, InnoSpace manages a $15.85 million (500 million baht) fund backed by investors such as PTT, Siam Cement Group, CP Group, ThaiBev and Bangkok Bank. 

It also runs an incubator for Thai startups located in the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation in Wang Chan district, Rayong province. InnoSpace has invested in three digital technology startups so far and wants to build more local unicorns. 

It runs two financial programmes called the Angel Fund and Startup Ready Campaign to connect foreign VCs with its local network of startups and government agencies. 

Moving forward, InnoSpace Thailand shared that it “can raise more funds” from new partners in the near future. 

It will also seek cooperation with state financial institutions such as the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand and Krungthai Bank.

From – Deal Street Asia

Narita to become first airport in Japan to use facial recognition for boarding instead of document checks

The operator of Narita International Airport near Tokyo said Thursday it will introduce in spring 2020 a facial recognition technology-based system that enables passengers to board planes, after check-in, without showing their passports or boarding passes. 

Narita will be the first airport in the nation to adopt a system that does not require passengers to pause for identification when boarding, according to Narita International Airport Corp. 

The operator hopes that the system will improve convenience for passengers ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and Paralympics. 

Passengers will first have photos taken of their faces at self check-in kiosks where they enter passport and boarding pass information. 

High-performance cameras set up at the baggage drop-off counters, safety inspection areas and boarding gates will track the passengers and check their identity against the registered photos as they make their way through the boarding process. 

While passports and boarding tickets will not be manually checked at such locations, passengers will still have to go through existing procedures at immigration control. 

Final details of the boarding process when using facial recognition are yet to be confirmed, and it was not clear whether travelers would be able to choose to board using conventional, non-biometric screening. 

After working out any initial flaws, the airport operator plans to introduce the system first for flights operated by All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, and then for other airlines in stages.

From – The Japan Times

SoftBank Group invests $10m in Swedish solar cell maker Exeger

Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp (SBG) has entered into an agreement to invest $10 million in Exeger Operations AB, Stockholm-based manufacturer of solar cells, according to an announcement. 

SB Energy Corp, a Japanese subsidiary of SBG, and Exeger have entered into a strategic partnership agreement to accelerate the global rollout of the Exeger technology. “We will use this initial SBG investment to accelerate commercialization across multiple markets,” said Giovanni Fili, founder & CEO of Exeger. 

Exeger produces solar cells that are meant to work efficiently in both artificial and natural light, with the potential to enable self-powered devices. The solar cells are used to integrate into mass market products like electronic devices, for a smarter use of energy, replacing the need to connect to an outlet for charging. 

“The development of this innovative technology, which can convert any light into energy that can be used in any way, will dramatically transform people’s lifestyles and behaviours,” said Shigeki Miwa, general manager of CEO Project Office and representative director & CEO of SB Energy Corp. 

The business of Exeger falls into one of the core business lines of SB Energy of generating power using natural energy. Since the establishment of SB Energy Corp in 2011, the firm has been engaged in solar powered energy projects such as establishing solar parks as well as expanding through acquisitions.

From – Deal Street Asia

500 Startups Japan team launches new fund called Coral Capital

500 Startups’ Japan team is breaking off to start a new early-stage investment firm called Coral Capital. The company will debut with a new fund and be run by James Riney and Yohei Sawayama, who launched 500 Startups Japan in 2016. 

The pair have raised 5 billion yen ($45 million) and aim to make larger investments compared with rival early-stage venture capital firms, the two said in an interview. 

Fundraising took about two months and will see many of 500 Startups Japan’s limited partners return for the new Coral fund, including Mizuho Financial Group Inc. and Taizo Son, one of Japan’s best-known seed investors and the younger brother of Masayoshi Son. New investors include Shinsei Bank. 

Coral will operate out of the same Tokyo shared-office space used by 500 Startups Japan, and all five of the existing employees will migrate to the new fund. “It has been a win-win relationship between us and 500, but in terms of why entrepreneurs are picking us as investors in the market, it is in a lot of ways because of the reputation we built as general partners,” Riney said. 

The pair said the departure from 500 Startups is amicable and that they will continue to cooperate on events and investments “for the foreseeable future.” They will also continue to service the 2016 Japan fund for 500 Startups, which has invested about 5 billion yen in 43 companies. For 500 Startups, it means the loss of one of their largest teams outside of Silicon Valley. 

The fund’s founder Dave McClure stepped down in 2017 amid allegations of sexual misconduct, leading employees at the company’s Canada fund to resign in protest. Riney said McClure’s departure had “pretty much zero” to do with the decision to launch Coral. “500 has and continues to be a strong global brand,” said Kelsey Cullen, a spokeswoman for 500 Startups. 

Riney and Sawayama’s portfolio for 500 Startups includes satellite-communications provider Infostellar Inc. and automation service SmartHR Inc. Another investment, restaurant reservation app Pocket Concierge Inc., was acquired by American Express Co. in January. The two have leveraged social media and services such as job fairs to reach Japan’s entrepreneurs and generate deals. 

“In Silicon Valley, Andreessen Horowitz has lots of partners: there’s recruiting help and PR help and management help and there’s all kinds of help,” Riney said. “But we were one of the first VCs in Japan to bring in an in-house recruiting person and build that as a pillar of the support that we provide.”. 

Venture funding continues to expand in Japan, doubling since 2015 to about $3.5 billion last year, according to Uzabase Inc. That’s a record, but still far behind the $111 billion and $105 billion raised in the U.S. and China last year, respectively, according to Preqin. Coral’s first fund will exclusively focus on Japanese startups, but Riney and Sawayama are thinking of expanding further in Asia.

From – Deal Street Asia
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