Singapore-based SME growth financing platform Validus has announced that it had exceeded S$1 billion ($738.72 million) in disbursals of business financing to small and medium businesses across Southeast Asia. This milestone comes as the SME FinTech lender enters its sixth year of operations.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Validus reports having consistently outperformed itself against previous months in revenue and loan disbursements. The company has seen record growth and recently reported its strongest quarter to date, with total loan disbursements exceeding S$150 million ($110.81 million).

At present, Validus is disbursing more than twice the pre-pandemic levels. Monthly loan volumes have grown 300 percent in the last 24 months. Its default rate remains under 1 percent, which the company considers as a testament to the its partnership-driven model, data analytics, collaborative models, and sound risk management.

Founded in 2015 to address the unmet financing needs of SMEs, Validus is now the largest SME lending marketplace in Singapore, with a strong presence across Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand. It uses Data Analytics and AI to drive growth financing to the underserved SME sector via funds from individual and institutional investors.

The platform connects growing SMEs to accredited and institutional investors for fast, secure, collateral-free financing. Its differentiator lies in its strong origination channels, which involve partnership-led strategy and bank channels. It counts large corporations and government-linked companies such as ST Engineering, YTL PowerSeraya, and Siemens as partners to finance their supply chain relying on non-traditional data. This unique anchor-led customer acquisition strategy facilitates cross-selling.

Validus holds a Capital Markets Services Licence by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and has also received regulatory approval in Indonesia and Thailand, where it operates as Batumbu and Siam Validus, respectively. It also has a presence in Vietnam as Validus Vietnam. There are also plans to explore further expansion across the region and digital plays, specifically digital banks in some markets in the near future.

According to the SME Finance Forum, the funding gap in Southeast Asia stands at an estimated $300 billion. SMEs account for nearly half of the total GDP of five ASEAN founding members, including Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand. Financing will continue to play a crucial role in growth and recovery for SMEs as they transit in the post-COVID-19 era.

“While we have achieved a significant milestone, there is so much more we can do to drive access to affordable, collateral-free financing to enable the growth of small and medium businesses in Southeast Asia. While developing the origination and underwriting model, we were charting new paths and dealing with digital financing for digitally progressive SMEs. Our first $1 Billion took us five years. The next milestone of $2 Billion will take us only one year,” Co-Founder and Group Chief Executive Officer Nikhilesh Goel said in a statement.

“By growing and strengthening existing partnerships, forging new ones, and building a genuinely differentiated fintech proposition, we will continue to grow our support for underserved SMEs in the region,” he added.

In a previous finding from Validus’ Economic Impact Report, over 300,000 Singaporeans had directly or indirectly benefited from Validus’ SME financing platform. SMEs that obtained financing from the platform experienced a 17 percent increase in their annual revenue in 2018. GDP contribution from Validus-assisted SMEs grew by 18 percent. In addition, SMEs that obtained financing from Validus experienced robust employment growth of 12 percent as compared to 1 percent of the overall employment growth of Singapore’s businesses.

Validus was recently approved as a Participating Financial Institution (PFI) under Enterprise Singapore’s Enterprise Financing Scheme alongside local banks and established financial institutions.  The firm also garnered several awards, most notably the top prize at MAS FinTech Awards 2020 for the category for Singapore Financial Institution.

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