In Focus

Hong Kong scores top Asian fintech investment as China's unicorns take a break

WeLab’s $220m series B funding round has some big-time backers including Alibaba.

Hong Kong was able to snag the top fintech investment of 2017 with startup WeLab receiving $220m in series-B capital infusion from big-time investors including Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and Credit Suisse, according to KPMG’s fintech venture pulse report. 

Through its proprietary technology, WeLab's mobile and online lending platform processes loan applications within minutes. As of December, the company has processed over US$28b in loans and grew its userbase to over 25 million. 

KPMG notes that Hong Kong was able to snag the top spot as China’s would-be unicorns are taking a breather amidst tighter regulatory scrutiny from the central government, enabling other fintech startups to take center stage. 

“As China’s central government continues to tighten controls around customer-facing internet finance activities, we have seen a major shift in fintech business strategy. Fintech companies that might have started with a customer focus are now embracing a B2B model, providing their solutions to traditional financial institutions in order to avoid the growing compliance requirements,” said KPMG China Head of Banking Arthur Wang. 

The report also noted higher levels of collaborative activity amongst regulators in the region with de-facto central bank Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission partnering to mentor and develop fintech initiatives in less developed economies in the region. 

Hong Kong similarly signed a data-sharing agreement with Singapore to collaborate on a blockchain initiative. 

Singapore’s GoSwiff and China’s BiWang Group occupy the second and third spot respectively after raising $100m reach via M&A activities.

India is also emerging as a rising fintech hub as Mswipe Technologies and scored $31m and $20m respectively in series-D funding, enabling them to secure sixth and seventh spots.

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