The Brick Closes $8.5M Seed to Enable Open Funding Across Southeast Asia – TechCrunch
Financial apps are proliferating across Southeast Asia, making it easier to keep books or get a loan online. But that means fintechs need access to vast amounts of data that they can use to verify customer identities, creditworthiness, or aggregated information from online accounts. Brick wants to simplify the process with an API suite that connects financial applications to “hyper-local” data sources, including banks, mobile wallets and telecommunications.
The company today announced the closing of an $8.5 million funding round led by Flourish Ventures and Antler. This amount includes undisclosed seed funding from The Brick, which TechCrunch reported in May 2021, but the majority of it is fresh capital, said co-founder and CEO Gavin Tan. The Brick currently operates primarily in Indonesia, but plans to expand to Singapore and the Philippines before eventually covering all Southeast Asian markets.
Other attendees include Trihill Capital and returning investors Better Tomorrow Ventures and Rally Cap Ventures, as well as individual investors like the co-founder and CEO of Creative Juice and the former head of business development and strategy at Plaid, Sima Gandhi; Yan Wu, co-founder of Bond Financial Technologies; Brian Ma, founder of Divvy Homes; Iterative Co-Founder and Managing Partner Ooi Hsu Ken; Amrish Rau, CEO of Pine Labs; and Aspire co-founder and CEO Andrea Baronchelli.
Founded in 2020 by Tan and CTO Deepak Malhotra, The Brick now has over 50 paying customers and supports over 13 million API calls and nearly 1 million consumers per month. Tan was an early employee of neobank Aspire, while Malhotra was co-founder and CTO of Indian neobank Slice.
The Brick’s 25 data partners include some of Indonesia’s biggest banks, but Tan says that over the past year, “we’ve actually moved a bit away from just focusing on banking services in due to the local landscape and the huge unbanked/underbanked population in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Only 25% of adults regularly use a bank account in Indonesia, so we have expanded our business to mobile wallets, e-commerce, telecom operators, government social security data, which have proven to be very popular. »
The Brick’s APIs include Brick Data, Brick Verification and Brick Payments, which can enable an end-to-end process for online lending, including user identity verification, underwriting and ensuring that funds are transferred to the correct bank account.
When TechCrunch first spoke to The Brick last year, many of its customers were online lending providers, but it has since expanded into new verticals. Its second most popular vertical is personal financial management applications, where its APIs power the budgeting function. Its third-largest vertical is bookkeeping and accounting apps used by businesses. Other clients include investment firms, banks and some of Indonesia’s largest conglomerates, including Sinarmas Group and Astra Financial.
The funding will be used to double The Brick’s presence in Indonesia and regional expansion. The Philippines was chosen as one of The Brick’s next markets due to the “development of open banking”, Tan said. “There are already regulatory projects in the Philippines by regulators, many open banks and banks open to finance,” Tan said.
Singapore was chosen because “regulators have always been a leader in terms of thinking about open finance, so that’s helpful, but another important factor is that there are a lot of modern fintech startups there, which which means that they are already aware of open finance solutions”.
Other open funding API startups in Southeast Asia include Finverse, Brankas, and Finantier.
According to Tan, the advantage of The Brick is that “we are by far the market leader in terms of coverage with over 25 separate data connections” in Indonesia.
In an email to TechCrunch, Flourish Ventures Global Investment Advisor Smita Aggarwal said, “The Brick plays an important role as a digital conduit that connects financial institutions, businesses and customers. It enables platforms, apps and fintechs to integrate identity and financial data through simple automated processes. This investment aligns strongly with our broader commitment to an inclusive and supportive financial ecosystem that serves all.