Why Tencent Co-founder Chose This Fintech Startup As the First Investment in Singapore The company provides foreign exchange (FX) technology solutions to non-bank remittance companies and liquidity providers

By Komal Nathani

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Singapore-based KOKU has raised US$2 million in pre-series A funding to accelerate its expansion in Southeast Asia, in a round led by Jason Zeng, co-founder of Tencent Holdings and founder of Chinese angel investment company, Decent Capital.

What Makes it Different?

KOKU, who enables Non-Bank Financial Intermediaries (NBFIs) to provide cheaper, quicker and digital-first remittance services through technology, will be using the funds to enter markets like Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia and Cambodia. The company is also looking to double their headcount in the next six months considering the rapid growth of transactions made by the customer every day. KOKU is targetting to increase transaction volume of $10 million per day to $30 million.

According to the World Bank, expected remittance flows in 2019 to the East Asia and Pacific region is set to grow by a further 4.2 per cent from the forecasted value of $142 billion in 2018. By tech-enabling businesses in the region with technology, there's an opportunity for KOKU to capitalize on the increase in cross-border transactions, digital remittance and financial inclusion.

"Tech-enabling non-bank remittance service and liquidity providers requires quite a complex and different business model, it's hard work," says Calvin Goh, Founder and CEO of KOKU.

"Having said that, it's extremely rewarding when we're able to tech-enable this group of NBFIs and help them succeed in scaling their operations. We've created a lot of curiosity and interest within the industry because of this. With the amount that's secured in this round of funding, we're confident that we're in good standing to further develop our offerings and expand into new markets as we move towards Series A," he adds.

Road Ahead

The Vice President of Decent Capital's angel investment department says that this is the first company in Singapore in which Zeng has invested since co-founding Tencent.

Sharing the same sentiments, he says, "With their expansion plans and continued advancement of their technology, we look forward to seeing the positive impact on the remittance industry throughout the region."

Since the initial funding round, KOKU has made strong progress in empowering businesses to upgrade their offerings through technology; as a result, KOKU is able to increase cross-border collaboration between non-bank remittance service and liquidity providers in the region.

The fintech startup works with Non-Bank Financial Intermediaries (NBFIs) including non-bank remittance companies and liquidity providers. It is already working with partners in Singapore, Hong Kong and the Philippines to enable them to scale their operations.

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Komal Nathani

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific

A firm believer of hard work and patience. Love to cover stories that hold a potential to change the momentum of business world. Currently, a part of all-women web team of Entrepreneur’s Asia Pacific edition to jig the wheel of business journalism!

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