Tencent co-founder Jason Zeng Liqing goes after new fintech investments in Southeast Asia

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 July, 2018, 8:57pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 July, 2018, 9:01pm

One of China’s top angel investors is looking to ramp up funding activity in Southeast Asia, as the region’s burgeoning financial technology market opens up new opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Tencent Holdings co-founder Jason Zeng Liqing, who established angel investment fund Decent Capital in 2007 after leaving the internet giant the same year, said on Wednesday that his Shenzhen-based company will initially target fintech start-ups in Singapore.

Zeng said this move by Decent Capital, in which he serves as chairman, would offer opportunities for technical knowledge transfer between China and Singapore as new investee companies gain access to the mainland through the fund.

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“Opening the vibrant Chinese technology network to Singapore as a base is a priority for us,” he said. “Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative is parallel to our interest in expanding the [start-up] ecosystem and promoting the development of specialised know-how to Singaporeans.”

This foray into Southeast Asia by Decent Capital, which has invested in more than 200 start-ups in China and California’s Silicon Valley, has come after the region achieved record fintech funding last year.

Venture capital-backed fintech companies in Southeast Asia raised US$218 million in funding across 46 deals last year, up 151 per cent from US$87 million across 44 deals in 2016, according to data from CB Insights.

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Decent Capital, which has been primarily focused in the fields of artificial intelligence, big data, machine learning, games, interactive entertainment and e-commerce, made its first investment in Singapore in 2016 with payments start-up Koku.

Zeng, who served as chief operating officer at Hong Kong-listed Tencent between 1999 and 2007, said in a meeting with the Monetary Authority of Singapore in May that he wanted closer collaboration with academic institutions in Singapore by fostering internship programmes with Chinese start-ups.