Cross-border payment startup InstaRem eyes IPO in 2020 after closing $13M Series B

Cross-border payment startup InstaRem has raised $13 million in new financing as it looks to expand its business, which is rooted in Asia, into Europe and North America ahead of an eventual public listing as soon as 2020.

The Singapore-based startup said the raise was led by China’s GSR Ventures, an early investor in Didi among others, with participation from Japan/Netherlands SBI-FMO Emerging Asia Financial Sector Fund. Existing backers Vertex Ventures, Fullerton Financial Holdings, and Global Founders Capital also joined the round. Instarem previously closed a $5 million Series A in March 2016.

InstaRem operates a cross-border payment service that is targeted at business users, including banks and retailers, although it does operate a consumer service. By working with banks and using wholesale rates, the firm is able to get good cross-border rates for its retail customers, too, InstaRem CEO and co-founder Prajit Nanu told TechCrunch.

Right now, the company says it is processing 150,000 transfer each month, with an average size of $1,800 per transaction.

It initially started with Australia, and since expanded to support moving money out of Hong Kong, Canada and Singapore and into 50 countries worldwide. Now, with this funding, it is working to get necessary licenses to expand to all markets in Europe and the U.S. before the end of the year as it aims to take a larger bite out of an industry that processes over $500 billion in transactions per year. It is also targeting faster Euro payments, dropping the time from around 24 hours to less than ten seconds.

To kickstart its expansion push, the company has expanded to Europe through an office in Lithuania. (Its headquarters are in Singapore with most of its development team currently situated in India.)

That Lithuanian outpost will house 25 staff before the end of the year, according to Nanu. He explained that an abundance in local talent plus relatively low cost of operation was behind the decision to locate InstaRem’s European office there. The firm said it will work closely with GSR in China where it has been busy making inroads.

Nanu revealed that this is likely to be the last round of VC funding for his company since he believes InstaRem is 12 months away from reaching profitability. Already it is net profitable in some markets, he added.

“We should have enough capital to run the business — we didn’t want to raise too much,” Nanu explained. “If we hit profitability, we could be looking at an IPO for 2020 [which] would give enough time to build our business.”

Hong Kong is attracting tech IPOs, with gaming firm Razer following the lead of selfie app company Meitu, and Singapore is also vying for public listings. However, the InstaRem CEO said it would most likely aim for a U.S.-based IPO.

“In three years time I think we’ll have a great story,” he added. “We are making payments a level ground for all, whether that’s a small mobile wallet service with 20,000 customers or a small to mid-sized bank doing international payments.”