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Startups

Thai startup raises $80m from Toyota and others amid pandemic

Fintech company Synqa to speed cashless transactions in social distancing era

Synqa has attracted a host of big-name clients in Thailand, including McDonald's, with its payment gateway platform. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

TOKYO -- Bangkok-based fintech startup Synqa Holdings is looking to capture a slice of growing demand for cashless transactions in Asia by taking advantage of $80 million it recently raised.

Synqa, formerly known as Omise Holdings, completed its Series C funding led by Siam Commercial Bank's venture capital subsidiary SCB 10X and Tokyo-listed asset manager Sparx Group, Nikkei reported.

Four other Japanese investors, namely Toyota Motor's financial arm Toyota Financial Services, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., SMBC Venture Capital, and Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance, also participated.

The startup company changed its name from Omise Holdings on Apr. 30. Synqa sounds like the Japanese word for evolution, "shinka," whereas Omise means a "shop" in the language. The company was founded by Jun Hasegawa and Ezra Don Harinsut in 2013 in hopes of operating an e-commerce platform.

The startup, however, ended up expanding its presence in the fintech spectrum, providing a payment gateway that allows websites to complete transactions without sending shoppers elsewhere. It has attracted a host of big-name clients in Thailand including McDonald's, duty-free retailer King Power, the country's second largest mobile carrier True Corp. and hospitality giant Minor International.

Synqa also eyes broadening its decentralized financial network for safe, transparent, fast and cheap transfer of digital assets between individuals by using blockchain technology. Thus, the company name now represents its corporate identity rather than its origin.

The coronavirus pandemic has become a driver for cashless payments, as people began to prefer consumption and financial transactions in a fast, secure, non-contact and convenient manner.

The $80-million funding is expected to allow Synqa to enhance its technologies to provide better products and services for its customers, helping it to gain an advantage in expanding its footprint in the fintech area.

Investors, meanwhile, are likely to be awarded with the startup company's know-how in digital or fintech transformation.

Synqa, when it was still Omise Holdings, received $300,000 in seed funding from East Ventures in 2014. In its investment round up to Series B, it had raised over $25 million since being established. It had also earned $25 million from an initial coin offering through its subsidiary OmiseGO in 2017. Most recently, Nomura Holdings funded an undisclosed amount to the company in July 2019.

Thai soil is not the most fertile for startups, but a handful have reached Series C funding in the past. Online fashion retailer Pomelo raised $52 million in its Series C round in September 2019. The latest funding by Synqa is believed to be the first in Thailand after the economic uncertainties triggered by COVID-19.

Additional reporting by Masayuki Yuda in Bangkok.

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