Investment apps in Southeast Asia attract a lot of funding, and now some are throwing quick follow-ups as well. For example, Indonesian robo-advisor app Bibit raised $ 65 million in May, just four months after a growth cycle of $ 30 million. Now based in Singapore Syfe announces that he has closed a $ 30 million Series B, just nine months after his Series A. He also said that all full-time Syfe employees will receive equity in the company.
The lead investor for the latest round is Valar Ventures, who also led Syfe’s Series A, marking the fintech-focused venture capital firm’s first investment in an Asian startup. Returning investors, Presight Capital and Unbound, also participated.
This brings Syfe’s total raised so far to $ 52.4 million since its inception in 2019. The startup has not disclosed its Series B post-currency valuation, but founder and CEO Dhruv Arora has told TechCrunch that it was up 3.6 times over its Series A. The company also did not disclose the total number of users, but assets under management have increased four times since January, in large partly thanks to user recommendations and the launch of new products such as the Syfe Cash + and Core portfolios.
âTo be honest, we weren’t really looking to elevate a Series B,â Arora told TechCrunch. âWe’ve seen some of the positive results from our A-Series resources. We’ve really grown the team and started launching new products and options for our users. Syfe could probably have waited another six months to a year to raise another round, he added, but his investors approached the startup again and offered good terms for another round.
About 50% to 70% of new users each month come from referrals from existing customers, which keeps Syfe’s acquisition costs extremely low, says Arora. Since the start of this year, she has also doubled her team in Singapore to more than 100 people, allowing the startup to explore different types of distribution strategies and partnerships. The app currently has users in 42 countries, but only actively markets in Singapore, where it holds a Capital Markets Services license from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). He intends to announce a second market soon.
Syfe was founded in 2017 and launched its app in July 2019. Prior to founding Syfe, Arora was an investment banker at UBS Investment Bank before becoming vice president and head of growth for the Indian grocery delivery startup. Grofers.
While personal investment rates are still low in Southeast Asia, interest has has increased significantly over the past year. One of the most frequently cited reasons is the economic impact of COVID-19, which has motivated people to earn income from their money instead of keeping it in savings accounts.
âMost of my career has been spent in Hong Kong, Singapore and parts of India. I think culturally we have always been told to save, save, save, âsays Arora. “It made sense because the banks were offering good interest rates, but now the majority of economies have a negative real interest rate.” Along with the growing familiarity of consumers with online wallets and other digital financial services, this paved the way for the arrival of investment apps, attracting clients who may not have gone to brokerage houses. traditional.
Arora says he expected people to become more interested in investing, but gradually over a period of about five to seven years. Instead, this change is happening much faster. âMy point of view is that the savings accounts of tomorrow become smart investment accounts. That’s my take since we launched Syfe, but this last year has clearly shown that it has to happen and that it has to happen much bigger. So I think this wave will continue, âhe said.
While many investment apps focus on millennial users, Syfe’s target demographic is broader. In the past six to nine months, Arora claims that there has been a slight increase in the number of users aged 50 and over on the platform and that its oldest user is 93 years old.
âThe users in this segment have become a larger percentage and the reality is that they generally have a higher disposable income. The average customer in their 50s will deploy, in our experience, almost double the more conventional demographic, which could be between 30 and 40, âsays Arora.
Of the many investment apps that have emerged in Southeast Asia, users most often compare Syfe to Stashaway, Endowus, and Autowealth when looking for a platform. Arora says the space has plenty of room to develop as retail investment in the region is still very low. âI think it’s still very early in the game. There is enough room for several players and I think more will come in this area because if you can put your procurement measures in place it can be a very profitable business.
In terms of differentiation, Syfe focuses on developing new products and localizing and personalizing users so that customers can create more personalized portfolios.
Syfe has a team of financial advisers for users who want one-on-one consultations, but Arora says most Syfe investors rely entirely on her app to decide how to invest. Over the past nine months, she has only added one new advisor to her team, while focusing on the intuitiveness of her user interface.
âThe human touch is optional, but it’s not necessary and in many cases it’s only needed once to help people understand the offer,â says Arora. “But our goal will always be to be a technology company and for the app to become so intuitive that whether you’re 18 or 93, you can use the offer with very little guidance.”
In a press release, Andrew McCormack, Founding Partner of Valar Ventures, said: âSyfe was our first investment in Asia and we have been impressed with its rapid and sustained growth over the past two years. The opportunity for the company to meet the savings and investment needs of a growing consumer population in Asia remains significant, and we are confident that Syfe will continue to grow at a strong pace.
Update: Corrected message to indicate that funding was in USD.