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Hong Kong Startup News Roundup - 18 August 2019

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Animoca Brands acquires digital collectibles marketplace Quidd for $5m

Mobile game developer Animoca Brands has fully acquired digital collectibles marketplace Quidd in a share-only deal worth $5 million. 

Quidd owns and runs an online marketplace where users can buy and sell digital collectibles like stickers, GIFs, cards, and 3D digital toys. It claims to have the "worlds largest assortment" of digital collectibles, and has established partnerships with big names like Disney, Marvel, HBO, and the NBA.  

Animoca claims the deal significantly increases its economic potential in the digital collections sector, and will also help broker a "powerful set" of intellectual property and media relationships.

Accenture selects APAC FinTech Innovation Lab start-ups for 2019 cohort

Global professional services giant Accenture has selected its latest batch of start-ups for the sixth Asia-Pacific edition of its FinTech Innovation Lab.

Having received a record number of submissions for the latest Asia Pacific edition of its accelerator programme FinTech Innovation Lab – a mentorship initiative hosted in collaboration with a number of leading financial institutions – professional services giant Accenture has whittled down the more than 170 hopefuls to just eight successful finalists, with three quarters coming from Greater China, including five companies based in Hong Kong.

“The programme gives startups the opportunity to fine-tune their business plans and services while enabling participating financial institutions to get a glimpse of innovations that will shape the industry for years to come.” said regional programme sponsor Piyush Singh, a senior managing director of Accenture's Financial Services practice in Asia-Pacific. 

The participating start-ups – which include a range of companies working on industry solutions through technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain – will now embark on a 12-week schedule of development activities alongside technology entrepreneurs, industry experts, and senior executives from matched financial institutions, culminating in November with a presentation before an audience of venture capitalists, the media and financial sector execs.

Hong Kong based equity investor leads South Korean fintech unicorn's latest round

Hong Kong-based equity investor Aspex Management led a $64 million funding round for South Korean fintech startup Viva Republica, the PayPal-backed creator of financial services platform Toss.

Viva Republica said the fresh funds boosted the company's value to $2.2 billion, with participation from Toss' existing investors, including Kleiner Perkins, Altos Ventures, Singapore's GIC, Sequoia Capital China, Goodwater Capital and Bessemer Venture Partners.

Founded in 2013, Viva Republic launched Toss four years ago as a simple and frictionless P2P money transfer service. Toss has evolved into a platform providing a range of financial services in one app, including banking, money transfer, dashboard and credit score management.

The lead investor in this round, Aspex Management, is an equity investment firm focused on Asia founded in 2018. It looks to invest in industries and companies exposed to large addressable markets with long-term potential and those undergoing structural changes.

"We like the large addressable market financial services offer and the unique leading position Toss occupies among mobile consumers," said Hermes Li, founder and chief investment officer of Aspex Management.

Fintech funding tops $8.3b in Q2 but Asia deals hit near-record low

Financial technology (fintech) funding in the second quarter of this year topped $8.3 billion globally but deals and funding in Asia hit near-record low and are on track to fall below 2018 total, according to the latest report released by CB Insights. 

Funding in the second quarter got a boost from 25 deals that were $100 million plus rounds worth approximately $5 billion in funding but every continent saw deals dip during the period, the report showed. For the entire first half of this year, global fintech saw 838 deals worth $15.1 billion, compared to the 1,895 deals worth $40.5 billion for the entire 2018.

CB Insights said India took the lead as the top market in Asia for fintech deals for the first time ever in Q2 while China saw deals dropped to a new five-quarter low of 15 deals, down 81% from the same period last year.

FinTech is getting traction in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has launched a series of initiatives to bolster the city’s status as an international financial center. At the end of last year, it started issuing virtual banking licenses.

With virtual banks, Hong Kong can offer an extensive range of financial products and services not only to customers of local and traditional banks but also to those in mainland China and around the world.

The HKMA has also opened an application programming interface (APl) to enable startups to develop their own applications (apps).

In fact, Hong Kong is one of the five ecosystems with the fastest-growing number of startups in the world. According to research by Whub, a startup community, about 14 percent of over 3,000 startups in the city are engaged in financial technology (fintech). And these APIs are the new fuel for innovation.

Find out more about Hong Kong's Fintech Ecosystem with the Hong Kong Fintech Whitepaper: Click here to get a FREE copy!

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