Singapore's UOB partners with Israeli crowdfunding platform

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore’s United Overseas Bank said it would invest $10 million in Israel-headquartered crowdfunding platform OurCrowd as part of the companies’ collaboration to help Asian startups raise equity funds.

UOB said the deal would allow accredited investors among its clients invest in OurCrowd’s portfolio companies, adding the partnership would help address the funding gap for small and medium enterprises in southeast Asia.

Sassoon Investment Corp, an investment holding company of Singapore-based Sassoon family known for building The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf brand, will also be investing in OurCrowd’s Asian expansion.

Crowdfunding is the practice of financing a project or venture by raising small amounts of money from many people, typically through the Internet. OurCrowd has invested over $200 million in 93 portfolio companies and has seen four exits since its 2013 launch.

UOB’s move is an example of how the global banking industry has been adopting financial technology by partnering with fintech companies, launching start-up programs or funding them.

Asia has become the second-most funded region for fintech, as investors keen to access to the world’s largest unbanked population and a private wealth market about to overtake that of North America, E&Y said in a report last year.

UOB had tied up last year with Singapore state investor Temasek to provide venture debt financing to start-ups in China, India and Southeast Asia.

Reporting By Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier