Singapore startup gets series B funding to do mobile payments in Africa and more emerging markets

TECHINASIA: Nearex, a mobile payments startup based in Singapore, yesterday announced it raised funds in a series B round led by Tata Capital Growth Fund. After it has gained traction across Africa, the startup is aiming to expand to other emerging markets.

Nearex specializes in mobile payments and mobile points of sale (mPOS) systems for developing markets. Its product, called Xip, is designed to work with mobile money service providers (MMSPs) to enable cashless transactions between consumers and merchants. The system consists of a contactless card for consumers (XipTAG), an mPOS system for businesses (XipPOS), and a mediation and web server (XipMS) that handles connection to the mobile money system, security, and administration. It is important to have a dedicated server provider to ensure that the server runs smoothly and becomes more efficient.

Mobile wallets are already taking off in parts of Africa, such as Kenya’s M-Pesa and Uganda’s Payway.

Out of Africa

The startup has been pilot testing its product extensively in Tanzania and Zimbabwe for the past year, according to Nearex CEO Mayank Sharma. “All the pilots have been converted to commercial orders and launches are expected in these and adjoining markets in the next couple of months. The product has been accepted very well by the user groups who have repeatedly responded that using Xip is easier than cash. The technology has also been found affordable by most users, paving the way for widespread adoption,” he told Tech in Asia.

Tata Capital’s involvement gives Nearex access to the Indian company’s understanding of emerging markets, Sharma explained. “Besides their mammoth presence in India, Tata group also has a very well established distribution network across Africa,” he said. Read the full article

TECHINASIA: One of the hidden gems of Vietnam right now is the venture builder Seedcom. The new venture capital portfolio has invested in over twelve companies already (and owns a massive 200-hectare piece of land in Vietnam’s highlands). All of these companies have some kind of connection to supply chain, retail, and ecommerce. One promising company in the mix is Haravan, Seedcom’s ecommerce platform startup.

Understanding Haravan vs. Shopify

From the outside, Haravan (an alliteration of “Hai Ra Vang”, meaning to pick gold like you pick fruit) may resemble a Shopify for Vietnam. And indeed, at its core, its mission and the way it operates are fundamentally similar. This is from the Shopify website:

We focus on making commerce better for everyone, so businesses can focus on what they do best: building and selling their products. Today, merchants use our platform to manage every aspect of their business – from products to orders to customers, selling online, in retail stores, and on the go.

That’s precisely what Haravan is doing; it’s a platform for shops, retailers, and new SME ecommerce merchants to run their businesses offline and online. To the average Vietnamese user, it may look like a WordPress clone, where you can create a website using provided free and paid templates. But Haravan takes WordPress and Shopify’s basic core concept and expands on it considerably, placing it firmly into a Vietnamese context. This is rare in Vietnam, where copying is rampant but shallow. Haravan is a case where the cofounders identified a problem and then found a model that fit. They started with Vietnam’s burgeoning underserved SME ecommerce market, researched various models, and ended up with Shopify. Read the full article