B2B payments platform Nium Private Limited recently joined Singapore’s unicorn club of privately held startup companies that have hit the $1 billion USD mark in valuation. With over 1000 fintech companies in the country, Nium’s success represents a pivotal moment for the nation as it aspires to establish itself as a vibrant powerhouse in the financial technology sector. 

Nium fintech unicorn

Nium became a unicorn after successfully raising more than $200 million USD in a Series D funding round led by US-based tech investor Riverwood Capital. Further contributing to the investment were Beacon Venture Capital, Rocket Capital, Singapore’s state investor Temasek, payments processor Visa Inc., and venture capital firm Vertex Ventures. DoorDash executive Gokul Rajaram, Co-Founder of Tribe Capital Arjun Sethi, and Chief Product Officer at FIS, Vicky Bindra, were other notable angel investors. According to anonymous sources, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC also took part in the funding. 

We explore the growth of Nium as it reached unicorn status

Including this series, the firm has raised approximately $300 million USD in total funding to date, growing its current valuation to over $1 billion USD. Southeast Asia is currently home to 17 unicorns, and Nium’s success positions the firm as the first B2B payments unicorn in the region. 

Although investors usually have their eyes and wallet out for richly-backed consumer tech giants such as Grab Holdings Inc., Nium’s success paves a promising path for other fintech startups coming out of Singapore. With this funding, the company plans to expand its payment network infrastructure, promote creative product development, recruit top industry expertise, and strategically acquire technologies and companies to solidify its position in the industry. Simultaneously, a portion of the funds will also help to accelerate the firm’s expansion in the United States and Latin America.

Nium bringing the world closer through payments

Co-founder and CEO of Nium, Mr Prajit Nanu, started the company in 2014 as Instarem. Mr Nanu is no stranger to the fast lane himself, having spent his 12-year career with fast-growing companies like Adventity and WNS Global Services. A year before Nium was born, the founder sought to send money from India to Thailand to organise a bachelor’s party for a friend but ran into several difficulties. Firstly the Thai resort did not want to accept his credit card and insisted on a bank transfer. Meanwhile, his bank in India required an elaborate list of paperwork just to deposit a mere $640 USD. Rather than sitting around and waiting for someone to make cross border payments less painful, he decided to do it himself. 

Elaborating on the investment, CEO Mr Nanu said that the initial goal for Nium was a humble one, and that was to remove complications in regional cross-border payments. Nevertheless, this goal has shifted in recent years, with the company’s sights set much higher. The company sees its role as a worldwide catalyst in facilitating more global commerce by reducing some of the payment friction that has held businesses back in the past. 

Today, the firm provides businesses with the tools and technologies they need to conduct financial transactions such as issuing cards and sending and receiving cross-border payments with minimum hassle. Thanks to Nium, users can access the world’s payment infrastructure via one single Application Programming Interface (API). Customers have the flexibility to move money to over 100 countries in real-time, payout in more than 60 currency options, accept cash in seven currencies, and issue cards in more than 40 countries once they are connected. 

Nium’s growth has been significant in the past year. Annually, the company says it processes $8 billion USD worth of payments and, to date, has distributed over 30 million virtual cards. Overall, its revenue has increased by more than 280% year over year, with an almost even split across EMEA and APAC. 

Future plans

Moving forward, two recent strategic partnerships are expected to further drive Nium’s success. One is the acquisition of Ixaris, which brought extensive virtual card issuing capabilities onto the platform, and Wirecard Forex India Private Limited, which will magnify the company’s exposure into India’s burgeoning payments sector. 

Nium has established a unique worldwide footprint of licensed infrastructure, bringing the world closer to real-time gross settlement and redefining payments for the modern era. With their network of licensed infrastructure, businesses can now easily integrate financial services into their business and banking applications. 

With more than 200 clients and counting, Nium’s software helps businesses accept online payments, transfer money, and issue physical and virtual credit cards. This funding comes just when the company’s worldwide market possibilities are growing significantly and rapidly in areas including embedded financial services, card payments, and cross border transfers. 

It looks hopeful that fintech unicorn Nium is on the right course to becoming a cardinal component of the global economy. The company proves that it has a significant role to play in Singapore startup trends, as we look forward to the faster and more democratic movement of money across borders.