Aspire Raises $ 158 Million Series B to Create Complete ‘Financial Operating System’ for Southeast Asian Businesses – TechCrunch
Aspire, the Singapore-based neobank that wants to become an “end-to-end financial operating system” for Southeast Asian companies, is getting closer to its aspirations with a Series B of $ 158 million. million dollars in debt, and was led by a global growth capital investor focused on FinTech, with participation from DST Global Partners, CE Innovation Fund, B Capital Partners and returning investors MassMutual Ventures, Picus Capital, AFG and Hummingbird Ventures. The debt capital was provided by the Fasanara Capital hedge fund.
The round also included angel investors from some notable fintech startups, such as Wise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus; the co-founders of Qonto Alexandre Port and Steve Anavi; the founder of Uala, Pierpaolo Barbieri; Xendit co-founder Moses Lo; Hendra Kwik, co-founder of Payfazz; and Clara co-founder Gerry Colyer.
Aspire was founded in 2018 to provide working capital loans to small and medium-sized businesses, but soon after its inception it began to adopt a multi-product strategy. Its service portfolio now includes bank accounts for cross-border businesses, corporate cards and automated invoice processing, all connected to financial management software. The company also operates an incorporation service for Singaporean corporations called Aspire Kickstart.
More than 10,000 business accounts have been opened on Aspire, and in total they process around $ 2 billion annually, doubling in five months from May.
“What we’re trying to do is connect traditional banking to software, because we realize the biggest problem is that these two are completely disconnected,” co-founder and CEO Andrea Baronchelli told TechCrunch. “So you have access to accounts, cards, but these are not fed by software. In bringing them together, our vision is to go beyond the concept of digital banking and essentially create an operating system where this banking product and software will coexist.
In addition to Singapore, Aspire also operates in Indonesia and Vietnam and is laying the groundwork, including regulatory, to expand into other Southeast Asian markets, although Baronchelli said it was too early to do so. announce which markets Aspire focuses.
Based on the company’s product research and interviews with companies, Baronchelli said that an average SME uses seven vendors for their bank accounts, credit solutions, currencies, invoice management and payroll and accounting. Aspire’s goal is to become a one-stop-shop for end-to-end solutions for SMBs. Most Aspire customers sign up when they need their first business account or corporate card, then start using its other products as they grow.
For large SMBs that already have commercial accounts, Aspire tries to capture their attention with value-added products, like its expense management software or credit solutions.
Aspire’s credit cards and working capital loans typically start at around $ 50,000 and can go up to $ 300,000, but can be customized as businesses expand to increase lines of credit. “We had to do this because we realized that our segment is a moving target by definition,” said Baronchelli. “We cannot be extremely tied to the amounts because our businesses and our customers are growing. “
The company’s plans for creating an end-to-end ecosystem are how it differentiates itself from other fintechs that offer business accounts, like Volopay, Wise, and Revolut. Aspire is currently working on building its payroll system, as many of its clients have employees in different countries. It is also adding more features to its invoice management tool to make it easier to reconcile payments with account balances.