Silot, an ambitious fintech startup, has just launched in Southeast Asia and bagged a US$800,000 seed round from China’s ZhenFund to get started. It’s the sole investor in this round, and it’s ZhenFund’s first bet in Southeast Asia.
Layer of consumer data
It’s complicated – but roughly, Silot can be imagined as a software that connects offline merchants with apps and consumers.
Merchants plug into Silot’s platform through a point-of-sales device and use it to process different types of payments, including through digital wallets. But it’s more than a payments solution. Apps, let’s say, a food discovery app, can also link up with Silot to send targeted offers to specific user groups.
To bring more customers into the shop, merchants always like this.
This activity – processing payments and driving more consumers to merchants – results in a collection of data, which is interesting, for example, to financial institutions seeking to understand consumer behavior. They can also connect with Silot to learn from the data.
“It’s a B2B solution,” stresses co-founder and CEO Andy Li. The platform is meant to be implemented by financial institutions and so-called merchant acquirers. These are agencies who have relationships with merchant networks and deal with them on behalf of payments providers. Silot isn’t the one going around from shop to shop to do sales. Here’s more on how merchant aquirers work (PDF).
Li declined to go into further detail about the app’s differentiation and inner workings.
Nonetheless, he thinks Silot is particularly well-suited to Southeast Asia, where digital wallets have proliferated, which tend to result in closed ecosystems where one merchant only accepts one type of payment. Silot helps merchants accept multiple wallet payments, learn more about their customers, and potentially even track their behavior across borders.
“To provide yet a new payment solution is not a big difference, but to bring more customers into the shop, merchants always like this,” says Li.
Silot already has some partners and merchants across China and Southeast Asia. It’s setting itself up for another funding round in the next quarter.
The plan is to launch in Singapore and Thailand first, then expand to Australia, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Like Li, many of the startup’s core team members are former Baidu executives from China, but they’ve set up the company in Singapore to target the region, because of startup-friendly government regulations and innovative institutions. Its R&D center in Beijing supports the Singapore team.
Silot is currently applying to Singapore’s PayPal incubator, but is still waiting to see if it gets accepted.
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