Dublin natives land $1.2m to roll business out in south east Asia
Two Dublin entrepreneurs have landed $1.2m (€1.09m) in capital to help them roll out their fintech business First Circle into the south-east Asian market.
Patrick Lynch, formerly of Morgan Stanley, and Tony Ennis, formerly of the Web Summit, have concluded the major funding round that will help them expand their SME financing platform into the Far Eastern market.
The investment has been led by Dublin and London-based Key Capital and was supported by firms in San Francisco and Singapore.
The Irish fintech company will provide access to collateral-free business financing in a marketplace estimated to be worth more than $50bn.
The 26-year-olds founded First Circle last year alongside Dutchman Jorrit Koop in a bid to deal with the undersupply of short-term working capital in the Philippines and across south-east Asia.
First Circle believes there is a lack of focus on business financing in the Asian markets with consumer lending, mortgages and asset-based lending taking priority.
"Much like in Ireland, small businesses are the lifeblood of the Filipino and south-east Asian economies. Yet despite their potential in a rapidly expanding economy we were surprised by the lack of support offered to local businesses, particularly when it comes to access to capital. We're looking to change that and early indications suggest we're onto something", said First Circle ceo Patrick Lynch.
"We're building a community of the most dynamic SMEs in south-east Asia and providing them with the funding and support they need to reach their full potential," he added.
SMEs can apply for a cash-flow loan on First Circle in five minutes and receive a decision within 24 hours.
Successful applicants receive their loan the following day.
Following this funding round the Irish firm now has San Francisco-based 500 Startups among its backers. The managing director of the venture fund, Khailee Ng, said SMEs have become "incredibly bankable".
"This is an obvious and immediate multi-billion dollar opportunity that banks have been slow to grasp.
"We funded First Circle because it has assembled a team of financial insiders who clearly do," he said.
First Circle only launched its service in the Philippines on October 8, operating in beta mode there since April.