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Brick raises $8.5m to build a single API layer for open finance in Southeast Asia

Source: Brick

Brick has raised $8.5 million of funding in a Seed investment round led by prominent global venture capital investors Flourish Ventures and the global venture capital firm Antler.

Other investors in the round include Trihill Capital, existing investors - Better Tomorrow Ventures and Rally Cap Ventures, and notable fintech operators including Sima Gandhi (Plaid, Creative Juice), Yan Wu (Bond), Brian Ma (Divvy Homes), Ooi Hsu Ken (Iterative), Amrish Rau (Pine Labs) and Andrea Baronchelli (Aspire) also participated. The fundraising supports Brick’s vision of powering the next generation of fintech companies with easy to implement, cost-effective and inclusive fintech infrastructure.

Brick was founded in 2020 by Gavin Tan and Deepak Malhotra (CTO). Gavin was an early employee at Aspire. Deepak built the first unicorn neobanks for millennials in India as co-founder and CTO of Slice.

“Brick is building fintech rails for Southeast Asian technology companies,” said Gavin Tan, CEO. “This funding enables us to accelerate our growth, scale tech platforms to expand our product offerings, and support more developers in the region to build inclusive financial services. We’re delighted to welcome Flourish, and to deepen our partnership with Antler.”

Gavin added, “The funding also allows us to recruit senior local talents in each country where we operate such as Indonesia, so as to localise our product and ensure that it aligns with the best practice and the highest standard of good corporate governance and consumer protection, especially within the ambit of data integrity and protection. Compliance, consumer protection and consumer trust are our top priorities at Brick.”

Brick builds Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for fintech and consumer tech companies. These APIs make it easy for popular fintech platforms to offer payment, credit, investment and insurance products to their consumers by connecting those platforms with hyper-local data sources. For example, if a user wants to take out a loan, Brick’s technology can immediately connect the platform with the user’s financial account, or gather mobile wallet or employment data to help process the loan application.

This technology automates and integrates the otherwise time-consuming process of collecting data from different sources to facilitate financial transactions. That means fintech platforms can quickly offer their users a wide range of tailored financial products - and enhances access to finance at a time of accelerating digital adoption across Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

Brick works with thousands of developers in the country and has signed up more than 50 paying clients. These include some of Indonesia’s fastest-growing Indonesian fintechs and conglomerates like Sinarmas Group and Astra Financial. The company supports more than 13 million API calls and almost 1 million consumers each month.
Over the last six months, Brick has expanded on its API suite to better serve technology companies in Indonesia. In addition to its market leading Brick Data API, the company now offers Brick Verification and Brick Payments. This allows the Brick API suite to cover deeper use cases and enables developers to launch world-class products with a single API integration. For example, the end-to-end user journey of onboarding, underwriting and disbursement for a user who wants to take out a loan, can now be automated with Brick Verification, Brick Data and Brick Payments respectively.

While currently focused on Indonesia, the biggest Southeast Asian economy, Brick plans to cover the whole region, starting with expansion into Singapore and the Philippines later this year.

Leading investors
“Brick is ideally positioned for growth, with a great team and a leading competitive position in a market with strong regulatory support for open finance,” said Smita Aggarwal, Global Investments Advisor at Flourish Ventures. “In order to catalyse financial services growth across customer segments, Southeast Asia needs infrastructure that enables secure and fast integration for identity verification, credit underwriting and financial planning for customers. We’re excited about the momentum that Brick has created in a short period of time and how it is improving the customer experience of accessing digital financial products. We believe that broad adoption of open finance tools can accelerate financial inclusion across the region and provide a significant boost to the growth of the economy. We look forward to working with Brick as it powers the rise of embedded finance in this hugely underbanked region.”

"We are thrilled to continue to partner with Gavin Tan and Deepak Malhotra,” said Teddy Himler, Partner at Antler. “We believe in the model and the vision of open finance for SouthEast Asia. With Brick, we believe the region will have a more transparent, competitive, and innovative fintech ecosystem. While Europe took a regulatory driven approach, we feel the market pull from fintech apps (and their customers) to build on top of the brick foundational API infrastructure. We believe that the most innovative ASEAN banks, governments and consumer services will embrace open finance as a way to leap-frog traditional payments and data infrastructures."

“Innovations in the Southeast Asia financial services sector have especially been benefiting the underliterate and underpenetrated markets, such as Indonesia. We are proud to back Brick to be a catalyst for more innovations in the region,” said Valerianus Ian Sulaiman, VP of Investments at Trihill Capital.
Fintech and open finance

Brick serves a vibrant and fast-growing tech ecosystem in Indonesia, with more than 5,000 technology companies who are increasingly leveraging fintech in their product offerings. Indonesian fintechs attracted over $1 billion of venture capital in 2021, up from $282 million in 2020.

The high demand is coupled with strong regulatory support. Bank account penetration in Indonesia remains below 50% and, in order to meet the government’s target of 90% financial inclusion by 2024, the central bank published comprehensive open banking API standards in 2020. Brick works closely with Bank Indonesia and Indonesia’s Financial Services Authority (OJK).

Research shows that open banking can have powerful economic impacts in emerging markets, where it can significantly boost financial inclusion. Research conducted by Flourish Ventures and McKinsey & Company shows that broad adoption of open-data ecosystems in India could result in a four to five per cent increase in GDP by 2030. Flourish believes that the potential boost in Southeast Asia could be even greater since the region ranks ahead of India in terms of digital adoption but lags in access to traditional, bank-provided financial services.

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