Skype co-founder raises $105m for Southeast Asian fintech startup
By Coco Liu
Skype co-founder Geoffrey Prentice has raised $105 million in the first significant funding round for his latest venture, a microlending business in Southeast Asia, intensifying the battle for the region’s vast unbanked population.
Malaysian property developer Berjaya Group and Indonesian conglomerate Sinar Mas Group led the Series A investment round in Oriente, founded by Prentice in Hong Kong in 2017. The startup is poised to enter Vietnam and has recently expanded into the Philippines and Indonesia. Prentice declined to disclose the startup’s valuation but said it is growing faster than Skype did in its early days.
The microlending business model has been around for decades, but Prentice believes Oriente has an advantage — a sophisticated risk control algorithm that helps to keep the default rate around 1%. This compares to an industry average of 8%. The difference, Prentice said, allows Oriente to offer lower interest rates.
Photo courtesy of Jaume Escofet.