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Hong Kong Startup News Roundup - 26 January 2020


[Funding alert] Digital wealth manager Kristal.AI raises $6M from Chiratae Ventures

Singapore-based digital wealth management platform, Kristal.AI, which is celebrating its fourth anniversary this year, has announced closing its latest Series A funding round of $6 million. 

The funding, which was finalised in December last year, is led by Chiratae Ventures (formerly IDG Ventures India) and Desai Family Office, which has interests ranging from fintech to boutique investments. Other investors include HNWI (high networth investors) names who are well known in the financial industry. 

TCM Sundaram, founding partner of Chiratae Ventures (formerly IDG Ventures India), said,

“Traditional banking is changing. One of the biggest differentiators in the future will be an advisor’s ability to deliver real-time, highly personalised investment experiences, and Kristal.AI is doing exactly that.” 

This round brings the total amount raised by Kristal.AI till date to $11 million. 

Home design startup Livspace raises $60 million

Home design and renovation platform Livspace has raised about $60 million from Hong Kong-based Tahoe Investment Group, and Singapore-domiciled Mercer Investments and EDB Investment, along with Kharis Capital, a European investment management firm and Venturi Partners’ managing director Nicholas Cator in his personal capacity, according to regulatory filings sourced from Singapore.

The investment has been made across multiple allotments and is likely to close next month in a round which could go up to $90-$100 million, people familiar with the matter said.

Livspace has raised about $150 million till date, according to share allotment disclosures made by the company. The company last raised$70 million in 2018, led by private equity firm TPG Growth and Goldman Sachs. Livspace declined to comment.

Livspace connects designers with customers as well as suppliers and, at the backend, operates a very complex supply chain to maintain delivery timelines. The company takes end-to-end ownership of a housing project, right from design to manufacturing to installation. The business also operates brick and mortar design studios.

FinFabrik x R3 digital assets league

FinFabrik is a capital markets fintech incorporated in Hong Kong and Shenzhen.  It partners with institutions in private markets primarily in Asia to grow new digital asset channels powered by distributed technology on its CrossPool platform.

The aim of CrossPool is ultimately to connect assets and capital by enabling private markets participants to develop standardised digital assets and workflows. Institutions handle the whole lifecycle on the platform: issuance, listing, trading permissions, KYC, transactions, payments, dividends etc.

FinFabrik uses Corda Enterprise, the distribution of R3’s Corda blockchain platform designed for large-scale enterprise use, to specifically handle the management transactions and settlement of digital assets at scale on CrossPool with full control of data privacy and security by its clients. 

Alex Medana, co-founder & CEO, FinFabrik, said:

“Joining the community of Corda Enterprise feels like we have finally graduated to the ‘Blockchain Premier League’. Corda has been built by and for the finance industry, particularly capital markets where we come from. It is an important milestone for us at FinFabrik, as we give our clients a turnkey solution to grow their digital channels that is scalable, secure and in line with their demands on data privacy. On top of its simplicity, an important factor for choosing Corda is the legal prose that we have been able to bake in on CrossPool: contracts can be read by humans and machines; they are lawful, enforceable and once written on a blockchain they become irreversible, tamper-proof, immutable. We now have the same technological baseline as major and well known financial institutions.”

Zegal Announces Most Affordable Legal Service in Asia for Small Business

Small businesses operating in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and the UK need to look no further for an affordable plan to easily manage all their legal and compliance needs.

Zegal’s launch of the Lite Plan marks a new age of affordability for startups and small businesses that have traditionally avoided using law firms for fear of bill shock. Zegal Lite includes access to the entire Zegal template library; e-signing; and unlimited document storage - making it the most affordable option available in Asia. Designed, ground-up for small companies, Zegal Lite ensures business owners the optimum legal health with the minimum keyboard strokes. Zegal’s round-the-clock customer service team is available to chat through the app at any time a question arises and dedicated law firms are on hand for more complicated queries. 

Zegal makes legal simple

Zegal’s unique smart contract creator means business owners don’t need to know any law to draft an NDA in under a minute or even more complex documents like a shareholders’ agreement. With livechat assistance, video walk-throughs and huge amounts of guidance, thousands of entrepreneurs and business owners trust the Zegal platform everyday for all their legal work.

Zegal’s Lite Plan at only HKD225 per month, now makes it more affordable than ever for small companies to instill legal protection right from the start. 

Fresh Boosts for Hong Kong SMEs

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Hong Kong face unprecedented challenges, but revolutionary progress in technology and China’s keystone projects – the Belt and Road Initiative and Guangdong Hong Kong Macao Greater Bay Area – present many equally unprecedented opportunities.

To help businesses take advantage of these opportunities and overcome the challenges, the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) recently launched a new round of measures to support SMEs. These including optimising the Dedicated Fund on Branding, Upgrading and Domestic Sales (BUD Fund) and SME Marketing Fund to boost support measures.

The government has increased capital injection into both funds, under which the overall funding ceiling and the first-funding allocation for each enterprise have been raised. The BUD Fund’s remit will be expanded to economies that have signed free trade agreements (FTAs) with Hong Kong. It helps to enhance the competitiveness of enterprises and expand markets in Mainland China and overseas.

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