Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Fundraising For Southeast Asia Tech Startups Steady Despite Pandemic

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, fundraising for Southeast Asian tech startups remained steady in 2020, Bloomberg said citing a report by venture capital firm Cento Ventures. Big winners include Grab, Go-Jek and Go-Pay, Bukalapak, and Traveloka – together they received over half of all investment last year.

Tech startups in Southeast Asia raised a total of US$8.2 billion (~RM34 billion) in 2020 – just a 3% drop compared to 2019. Most of that capital (70%) headed to Indonesia, while Malaysia just received a paltry 5% of the total investment volume.

To be fair, Thailand and Vietnam got 5% and 4% respectively. And there’s an obvious reason why Indonesia is such hot real estate – its 270 million plus population.

The bigger picture is that the raging pandemic has barely dampened investment appetite, which is why Grab’s fintech unit raised US$300 million (~RM 1.21 billion) in January. Grab is also mulling a US IPO later this year.

Furthermore, any skittishness about the pandemic-stricken economy is quickly counteracted by the massive demand for e-commerce and contactless payment. Unsurprisingly, over half of tech investment in the region went to super-app companies and online retailers – reaching over US$4 billion (~RM16.6 billion) last year.

And you wonder why everyone and their mother talks about super-apps these days. If anything, the pandemic has made them invaluable to our daily lives.

“2020 offered a harsh reason to reassess how technology can be harnessed to maintain vital function of the society,” said Dmitry Levit, a partner at Cento Ventures, told Bloomberg.

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