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Fintech startup SingX secures second round of funding

FINTECH start-up SingX has raised US$4.5 million in its second round of funding as it expands its online remittance services to two new markets, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Founded by former American Express banker Atul Garg, SingX - which began business in January - had raised US$2.5 million at its inauguration.

Investors in the second round of funding include senior bankers and high net worth individuals from Singapore and Hong Kong, it said in a press release. They join Mr Garg, veteran bankers Kula Kulendaran, Vineet Nagrani and Rajan Raju as shareholders. Former DBS head of enterprise banking Edwin Khoo also serves as adviser on the board.

SingX's first product, fund transfer from Singapore to India, has reached a monthly remittance volume of S$8 million, said Mr Garg on Wednesday.

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It has already signed up 4,250 customers, and he is confident of ramping up the customer base quickly as the service has seen many repeat users.

Mr Garg projected that transactions would reach S$100 million by year-end.

SingX's business model lets users save up to 90 per cent in remittance charges when transferring funds to India, Malaysia and Hong Kong, compared with bank transfers.

It does this by cutting out cable charges and bank commissions, and offering transparent and live foreign exchange rates. It charges a handling fee made known to the customer upfront.

SingX targets white collar individuals and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as customers.

Mr Garg said that customers like the transparency of the platform as it enables them to keep track of live foreign exchange (FX) rates and empowers them to make a transfer when they are comfortable with the FX rate. They also enjoy the ease of transferring money anytime from the convenience of their mobile phones.

"SingX's mission is to continue to make finance simpler and cheaper for individuals and small and medium-sized businesses. The latest funding from our investors will help us scale up our business faster, expand to new geographies and to develop a number of other products to meet the global cross-border payment needs of Singaporeans and their companies," he said.

Mr Garg added that SingX is launching remittances to two new markets - from Singapore to Malaysia, and from Singapore to Hong Kong - as these markets have a considerable amount of cross-border payments taking place because of their long ties with Singapore.

Currently, there are 350,000 Malaysians in Singapore who transfer money home to pay mortgages, bills, family and other expenses.

He noted that many Malaysians use a very cumbersome and unsafe process of remitting money from Singapore to Malaysia. They first stand in line at a money changer to convert their Singapore dollars to Malaysian ringgit, and then physically carry this money into Malaysia and queue up a second time at a Malaysian bank to deposit money. Using SingX would save them queueing twice, he said.

But will SingX be as cheap as or cheaper than moneychangers?

"To be honest, we are not cheaper than moneychangers but close to their rate," said Mr Garg.

SingX's remittance service to Hong Kong will also appeal to the many Singapore residents who invest in stocks, property and trade with Hong Kong and China, he said.

Figures from Singstat show that imports from Hong Kong into Singapore stand at around US$3 billion annually.

Malaysia was Singapore's second largest trading partner in 2016. Singapore imports goods and services worth S$50 billion per annum from Malaysia, with SMEs' imports accounting for S$12.5 billion.

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