Since its inception, SoftBank Group Corp. has made a name for itself as a significant player in the tech startup industry. But it has been a tough year for the Japanese conglomerate and its CEO Masayoshi Son, as valuations for its new startup bets hit a record low last quarter.
The situation is a far cry from when SoftBank was riding high on the strong performance of its Vision Fund, the $100 billion fund it set up to invest in tech unicorns.
Despite the sliding valuations, which are sapping Softbank’s risk appetite, the company has made efforts to gain a foothold in the burgeoning Asian fintech market.
Softbank’s investments in Asia reflect the region’s growing importance in the global fintech landscape. With a population of around 4.75 billion and a rapidly growing middle class, Asia is home to a vast and untapped market for fintech products and services.
Moreover, the region is also home to some of the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial fintech companies. In recent years, we’ve seen several Asian fintech startups gain global recognition for their cutting-edge products and services.
Here are the top five notable fintech investments made by Japan’s Softbank in Asia
Funding Societies: Singapore
In February last year, SoftBank led a US$294 million funding round for Funding Societies, a Southeast Asian peer-to-peer lending platform.
Founded in 2015, it provides small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access to financing through a network of individual and institutional investors.
Funding Societies has disbursed over US$2 billion in loans to Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
SoftBank invested US$2 billion through Grab investment to earmark the ride-hailing operations in Indonesia.
Grab, which operates in 480 cities in eight countries, is Southeast Asia’s first decacorn and the most prominent technology startup in the region.
The company went public in December 2021 but reported a US$575 million loss from April to June last year.
In 2015, Softbank invested US$1.6 billion in Paytm, and since then, the company has become one of India’s largest digital payments companies, with a user base of over 350 million people.
Paytm’s success has been driven by the rapid growth of digital payments in India and the company’s ability to expand its product offerings beyond just mobile recharges.
It was reported that SoftBank sold 4.5 percent of their stake in Paytm for US$200 million last year.
In 2021, Softbank invested US$250 million in banking and credit technology unicorn Zeta.
Founded in 2015 and valued at US$1.45 billion, Zeta provides digital solutions for enterprise clients, including banks, employers, and insurance companies.
The company focuses on providing corporate clients with the tools they need to digitize their employee benefits programs and improve their employees’ financial wellness.
In 2018, PolicyBazaar, an Indian online insurance comparison, and financial services company, raised US$200 million, led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund.
However, SoftBank sold 5.1 percent stake worth ₹1,043 crores of PB Fintech, the parent of Policybazaar, through an open market transaction recently.
Founded in 2008, PolicyBazaar provides a platform for consumers to compare and purchase insurance policies from various providers.
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