Beacon Venture Capital (Beacon VC), the corporate venture capital arm of Thailand’s Kasikornbank (KBank), has participated in Singapore-based neobanking startup Aspire Financial Technologies‘s US$32.5 million Series A funding round, which was announced early last month.
Beacon VC joins a pool of international investors, including Y Combinator, Mass-Mutual Ventures (MMV) Southeast Asia, Insignia Ventures Partners, Hummingbird Ventures, Silicon Valley’s Arc Labs, and Picus Capital.
Through this partnership, KBank and Aspire aim to work together to digitise banking to small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and online merchants in Thailand.
“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 both organisations. 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, digitised merchant-supplier payments, and remittance services to facilitate KBank customers through this investment and collaboration,” said Aspire Co-founder and CEO Andrea Baronchelli.
Founded in January 2018 Baronchelli (former EVP and CMO at Lazada), Aspire aims to “reinvent SME banking in Southeast Asia”. The startup is serving a new generation of internet businesses with a mobile-first digital account across Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam.
The startup’s flagship product AspireAccount, targeted at digital merchants across the region, can be opened online in just a few clicks. It is free and comes with an instant credit limit for daily business expenses, a virtual B2B payment acceptance and other tools to help SMEs manage their cash flow.
Aspire claims it provides SMEs with a 60-day, interest-free credit line of up to S$100,000 to solve their working capital needs. Its goal is to provide business owners with fast and simple access to the funding they need to grow.
A business credit card is next in line and it will be available and linked to each business account as early as this year.
Aspire graduated from Y Combinator Winter 2018 batch.
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.”