Financial institutions are lining up behind blockchain, a technology that promises to make business processes more efficient and cut costs.
In the first nine months of 2016, some US$1.4 billion had been invested globally in blockchain startups, according to PwC, highlighting the craze surrounding the technology.
In Asia, fintech startups attracted US$10.5 billion in the first nine months of 2016, more than doubling fintech funding for all of 2015 (US$4.3 billion). Given the surge in fintech investment in Asia, Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Francis Chan and Zhen Qin, predict a significant rise in investment going toward blockchain startups in the region.
In November 2016, R3, a fintech startup based in New York that leads a consortium of over 70 of the world’s leading banks and financial institutions, opened the R3 Asia Lab in Singapore to research and develop blockchain solutions for the region’s financial services firms.
Ripple, the US-based company behind the payment network of the same name, has started to expand to Asia as well, launching a joint-venture with Japan’s SBI Holdings in January 2016. Called SBI Ripple Asia, the company focuses on extending Ripple’s reach to Asian countries.
Blockchain, the technology that underpins digital currency bitcoin, is a distributed database that maintains a continuously growing list of ordered records. By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data – once recorded, the data in a block cannot be altered retroactively. It has been praised by some of the world’s largest financial institutions as a new form of data sharing and asset transfer capable of eliminating intermediaries, central third parties and expensive reconciliation processes.
Today, we take a look at Asia’s most active investors and venture capital firms in the bitcoin and blockchain space.
Asia Fintech Merger and Acquisition Fund of Funds
In December 2016, Credit China Fintech Holdings, Shanghai Xinhua Distribution Group Ltd, Jilin Province Investment Group Corp Ltd. and others, joined hands to launch the “Asia Fintech Merger and Acquisition Fund of Funds” (Asia Fintech FoF) in Beijing.
The 10 billion yuan (US$1.44 billion) public/private-sector fund focuses on investment opportunities and mergers and acquisitions in the fintech sector.
Credit China Fintech Holdings director Sheng Jia said: “Our investment will center on leading companies in the fields of big data, AI, cloud computing, mobile payment, supply chain financing and blockchain.”
Huiyin Blockchain Venture
Huiyin Group, a multibillion-dollar investment company based in China, launched Huiyin Blockchain Ventures in December 2016 with US$20 million in committed capital to invest over a six to 12-month period in bitcoin-related companies in China and abroad.
The firm has already started investing through the fund in a number of startups include India’s bitcoin brokerage company Unocoin, content monetization platform Yours, and e-commerce marketplace Purse.io.
Life.SREDA is a venture capital firm based in Singapore focusing on growth-stage fintech companies.
In early-2016, Life.SREDA launched a venture fund targeting investments in the blockchain ecosystem. Called the Banking on Blockchain Fund (BB Fund), the fund was launched with an initial capital infusion of US$5 million from Life.SREDA.
The fund is based in London and focuses on European and Asian fintech firms that leverage blockchain technology.
More specifically, it provides startup capital for early blockchain companies that have use cases relevant to banks.
SBI Group is a financial services company based in Tokyo. SBI Investment is the core company in the SBI Group’s asset management business and one of Japan’s leading venture capital firms focusing on growth sectors such as information technology, biotechnology, life science and fintech.
SBI Investment led Kraken’s “multi-million dollar” Series B funding round in February 2016. Kraken is a digital currency exchange platform.
SBI Investment and SBI Holdings are both investors in Ripple, the US-based company behind the payment network.
Last year, SBI and Ripple established SBI Ripple Asia, a joint-venture focusing on boosting Ripple adoption in Asia.
IDG Capital, previously known as IDG Capital Partners, is venture capital fund focusing on early to growth-stage Chinese companies in the technology sector.
It is part of the IDG Ventures, a global network of venture capital funds with approximately US$3.6 billion under management and a portfolio of over 220 companies.
IDG Capital has an investment portfolio of over 100 start-up companies, including Ctrip, Sohu, Baidu, China Finance Online, Tencent, Soufun, HomeInns, NetDragon, Allyes, and Kingdee.
Established in 2010, 500 Startups is an early-stage venture fund and seed accelerator with about US$200 million in assets under management. 500 Startups is headquartered in California with operations all around the world include the UK, South Korea, Malaysia and Turkey.
500 Startups has several funds focused on different international regions or operational verticals. For instance, 500 Durians is a US$22 million fund focused on the Southeast Asian market, 500 Kimchi is a US$15 million fund focused on the South Korean market, and 500 Mobile Collective is a US$10 million fund focused on mobile app startups globally.
500 Startups has invested in blockchain startups Fluent, Monetsu and Neuroware.
First appeared at FintechNews HK