Neat, a Hong Kong-based fintech startup, announced today that it has raised a $11 million Series A to help small businesses do cross-border banking. The round was led by Pacific Century Group, with participation from Visa and MassMutual Ventures Southeast Asia, and returning investors Dymon Asia Ventures, Linear Capital and Sagamore Investments.
Neat also announced a strategic partnership with Visa, which means that in the next few months Neat will start issuing Visa credit cards to SMEs and startups.
This brings Neat’s total funding to $16.5 million, including its seed round announced at the end of 2018.
Like San Francisco-based Brex, which achieved a $2.6 billion valuation last year, Neat focuses on giving startups and small businesses a more efficient, online alternative to traditional banking.
Its services allow them to open business accounts for multiple currencies online, send and receive payments from different countries and apply for corporate credit cards. Neat’s new funding will be used for expansion, with a focus on Southeast Asian customers that do trade with European companies. Last year it opened a Shenzhen office to serve Chinese export businesses, as well as an office in London for Western European companies that trade in China.
Neat co-founder and CEO David Rosa told TechCrunch that businesses are still looking to digitize more of their operations despite the worldwide impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Neat is serving entrepreneurs around the world that trade with Asia. Before they may have fitted visits to the bank into their business trips to Hong Kong, this is no longer an option,” he said.
Corporate credit cards can be difficult for startups and SMEs to get because they typically need about three years of audited financials to qualify even for low spending limits, Rosa said. Employees often cannot get a corporate card because their managers do not have the tools to control their spending limits, making reimbursement more difficult. Neat’s partnership with Visa aims to solve many of the problems they encounter (it also offers a Neat Mastercard). In the future, Neat will launch tools for automated payroll, accounting and logistics.
In a statement, MassMutual Ventures managing director Ryan Collins said, “We’re proud to support Neat in the company’s vision to support entrepreneurs. There is a clear demand for better financial products for SMEs, especially when it comes to cross-border payments and trade, and we’re confident that Neat’s passionate and innovative team will deliver.”