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Exclusive-Singapore's ADVANCE.AI raising $200 million from Warburg Pincus-led investors - sources

By Reuters

By Anshuman Daga

SINGAPORE – Singapore-headquartered tech startup ADVANCE.AI is raising about $200 million in a funding round that will propel it into a small group of Southeast Asia unicorns – unlisted companies valued at $1 billion or more, two sources familiar with the matter said.

ADVANCE.AI, which uses artificial intelligence-driven technology to offer digital identity verification, fraud detection and credit scoring services, has secured Warburg Pincus as the lead investor in the funding, the sources said.

The sources declined to be identified as the funding has not been finalised.

There was no response to Reuters queries sent to ADVANCE.AI.

The backing from Warburg Pincus, one of the world’s biggest private equity firms, is expected to help ADVANCE.AI scale up its business significantly. Investments from large global funds usually help startups notch higher valuations in subsequent funding rounds. Warburg Pincus declined comment.

One of the sources said ADVANCE.AI’s valuation will more than double from its last capital raising Series C round two years ago.

The company currently counts Chinese investment firm GSR Ventures and a subsidiary of Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings among its investors.

In 2019, ADVANCE.AI had raised $80 million from investors including Chinese venture capital firm Gaorong Capital and Pavilion Capital. Earlier, it raised nearly $55 million, according to the company’s website.

In the startup world, securing a valuation of at least $1 billion or a so-called unicorn status is often seen as an important milestone and underscores the maturity of a company.

ADVANCE.AI caters to more than 1,000 clients in its key sectors such as banking, e-commerce, fintech and retail.

As the COVID-19 pandemic boosts consumers’ and companies’ adoption of digital platforms, rapidly-growing fintech and e-commerce startups are fast attracting investments https://www.reuters.com/world/the-great-reboot/southeast-asia-tech-dealmaking-booms-investors-place-post-covid-bets-2021-08-27 from global and local investors as they bet on post-pandemic technology plays.

From its strong presence in Southeast Asia and India, ADVANCE.AI is now expanding into newer markets such as Mexico.

Last year, the company was part of a consortium that had applied for a wholesale digital banking licence in Singapore but was unsuccessful.