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Sankalp Shangari, Founder and CEO, LALA World (right)

Singapore-based blockchain startup LALA World today announced that it has raised a US$2 million in Series A funding round from an undisclosed investors.

The announcement follows a recent pre-ICO announcement that the company has made, which is set to happen on November 15 to December 5.

LALA World uses blockchain technology to help under-banked and under-served communities, particularly migrant workers, to access various financial services without intermediaries and with minimum transaction costs. With a product called LALA Wallet, the company claimed to be able to reduce transaction costs to under one per cent from the current number of 10 per cent.

It currently works with governments, corporations, and local communities in Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey, and Azerbaijan. An example of such partnership in Malaysia is the provision of LALA Kit (consisting of mobile phones, SIM cards, et cetera) and on-boarding of migrant workers before they leave their home country.

LALA World aims to get 500,000 migrant workers in Malaysia on board its ecosystem over the next 12 months.

The company plans to announce new partnership “soon.”

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LALA World was founded in April 2016 by Sankalp Shangari, a Punjab-hailed seasoned investor in fintech and natural resources.

Shangari came from a family whose members were migrant workers in Southeast Asia and the Middle East; the founding of LALA World was inspired by first-hand account of exploitation as told by his family members. For example, to send money back home, the workers had to rely on sending physical cheque for remittance. The process would take weeks and incur high middlemen costs.

“Around 2.5 billion people don’t have basic access to proper financial services. The majority of the under-banked face severe challenges as they lack basic banking education. Sending pay-checks to their hometown would take weeks and to compound matters, they have to pay various charges, which can be pretty hefty,” Shangari explained.

“In the past 20 years, while the world has changed and the internet has transformed things, the travails migrant workers go through are still the same. I know what they went through and that’s why I started LALA World,” he continued.

A recipient of a national scholarship programme in India targetting high-achieving, underprivileged students, Shangari received his Masters in Energy, Trade and Finance from Sir John Cass Business School in London.

He went on to work in engineering and banking in India, the US, and Singapore before founding Shagari Ventures in 2012. The family-run investment holding vehicle’s most notable investment includes Indian payment fintech firm InstantPay.

Image Credit: LALA World