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Sri Lanka fintech start-ups seek funding in virtual pitch

ECONOMYNEXT – Seven Sri Lankan fintech start-ups, which are developing applications for insurance, payments and credit products, are seeking funding backed by Hatch, a start-up incubator which says it is engaged in a virtual accelerator program amid a Coronavirus pandemic.

The firms have undergone an intensive mentorship program guiding and readying them for guidance and investment. They then pitch for investments in a ‘demo day’.

“HatchX, the fintech chapter of Hatch is the first fintech accelerator in Sri Lanka and not only that, but it is also the first of its kind to have kicked off and gone virtual during the great lockdown of 2020…” Randula de Silva, Director, Hatch said at the demo day.

“When we first set off to think of doing a fintech accelerator, the intention was not only really to scout out and strengthen the brightest of the companies in the fintech landscape but also to open a new door towards creating a transformation in the financial sector in Sri Lanka by bringing together all of the stakeholders who are playing a key role in the financial ecosystem.

Sri Lanka has controlled the spread of Coronavirus and most economic activities have resumed subject to social distancing and health rules.

Virtual Pitch

The virtual pitch was streamed across all the continents on multiple forums.

Among potential investors, there were funds, angels, banks, and insurance companies.

Seven fintech start-ups pitched their business proposals – OGO Pay, iLoan, Smart Insure, Direct Pay, Algoredge, Fipbox and Helios P2P, to potential investor at a demo day which was live-streamed to potential investors worldwide.

OGO pay is targeting gig workers. It aims to make financial transaction easier for platforms to accept payments and from then on, the user can immediately with a click pay a loan, invest, or save.

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It also documents the transactions thereby making it easier to obtain credit from banks.

“By helping gig workers, we are also helping financial services to reach a market they couldn’t before due to constraints or because they didn’t look at those segments,” Imesh Liyanage, CEO, OGO Pay said.

“For platforms, we make it easier and cheaper to transact.”

OGO says it has processed over 37,000 transactions valued at over 28 million rupees. They are looking to raise 50 million rupees to further develop the business.

iLoan is a middle-man loan provider. It pays a creditor on behalf of a debtor, taking on the risk and the underwriting. Another option it offers is a loan with an interest rate similar to a temporary overdraft (TOD).

Currently, it has 13,000 registered users, over 5,000 loans processed and a loan book of 800,000. It seeks a 500,000 US dollar funding.

Partnering

Smart Insure, mainly targeting daily-wage earners, handymen and farmers, is a platform connecting an insurer through a base provider. They are partnered with Hutch and Allianz.

Direct Pay – a digital payment platform partnering with Cargills Bank, Sampath Bank, Nations Trust Bank and Commercial bank, provides payment solutions for individuals and businesses.

The services for businesses include an internet payment gateway, virtual Point of Sale and merchant app.

They have done 4.5 million dollars’ worth of transaction with 16,000 users and 7000 merchants and are looking to raise 750,000 dollars.

Algoredge is a big data analytics platform to help businesses make accurate decisions.

“In this age, if an organisation is making a decision which is not data-driven then it is merely an opinion,” Urumila Chandrasekeram, Co-founder of Algoredge said.

The start-up is seeking 80,000 US dollars.

Boosting Innovation

The 4-month long initiative by Hatch in partnership with Lankan Angel Network was funded by Ford Foundation.

“One of the things we are focusing in Sri Lanka is how we can support the innovative enterprises and start-ups that can help us create vibrant and resilient markets which will create an overall societal growth,” Pradeep Nair Regional Director for India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka Ford Foundation, joining via Zoom said

“That’s one of the outcomes and missions ford foundation has focused on, we are continuously looking for partnerships and organisations that can get us there.

“I do believe start-ups have a huge role to play in a country like Sri Lanka. I believe they can take advantage of lessons from other countries both in this region and other countries”.

Hatch started two years ago, with 500 members both in Colombo and Jaffna. It has three incubator programs in house and two accelerator programs. (Colombo/Sep15/2020-sb)