In the past few years, a prolific rise has been observed in the number of small and medium scale enterprises and startups, in and around Southeast Asia. After setting up small businesses, the primary problem most entrepreneurs face is the management of working capital and to be specific, maintaining a balance between focusing on nurturing their business and cash management. Owing to the prevalent need for some technology which could do that for these digital entrepreneurs, Singapore-headquartered startup Aspire, came up with an idea to solve the working capital needs of SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises). Founded in January 2018 by ex-Lazada CMO Andrea Baronchelli and a team of former Lazada executives, this Neo-bank is a fully owned subsidiary of Aspire Financial Technologies Holdings Inc., a Delaware (US) Corporation.
How Does Aspire Work?
ASPIRE is a technology organization which aims to reinvent SME banking in Southeast Asia. It delivers convenient financial services to SMEs and startups by providing them with a 60 day, interest-free credit line of up to S$100,000 to easily secure their working capital. This neo-banking platform is backed by leading venture firms and private investors to cater to the financial needs of these SMEs. It basically works on the concept of seed funding. AspireAccount, the startup’s flagship product, provides merchants and startups with an instant credit limit for daily business expenses, as well as a business-to-business acceptance and other tools to help them manage their cash flow.
Market Presence Of Aspire
Insignia Ventures Partners, Mark 2 Capital, Picus Capital, and Hummingbird are the investors who have been associated with this Fintech startup in the past, to name a few. Currently, Aspire delivers its services in Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam. This startup bridges the gap between owners of SMEs and financial service providers by letting their customers open business accounts and choose from a multitude of banking options. As stated by ex- Lazada CMO Andrea Baronchelli, around 1000 bank accounts are opened in Aspire every month and it has a seen substantial growth in its market value by garnering the attention of several digital entrepreneurs.
Funding For The Neo-Bank
Till date, Aspire has raised about $41.5 million and is planning to collaborate with potential investment banking firms and service providers to create a platform which could generate higher revenue and fulfill the working capital needs of the increasing number of SMEs and startups. Recently, it raised $32.5 million which shall be used to introduce new services and expand its presence in the Southeast Asian markets.
Southeast Asia’s digital economy is slated to grow more than six-fold to reach more than $200 billion per year, according to a report co-authored by Google. The next facility in line, this neo-bank will be launching as early as this year is a business credit card which will be linked to each business account. Aspire is thus planning to serve more and more small businesses which do not have access to credit lines, accounts, and other financial services and help them to grow quickly.