PawnHero from the Philippines wows ‘em at Echelon 2015
By Benjamin Cher June 25, 2015
- 10 finalists from 14-city run of local Echelon satellite events
- PawnHero aims to be a financial solution for the unbanked
FINTECH startup PawnHero from the Philippines was crowned the winner at Echelon Asia Summit 2015, bucking the trend of Thai startups claiming the top prize over the last two years.
PawnHero beat out homegrown hero Nanu, as well as Flow Account, highlighting the growing popularity and emergence of financial technology services (fintech) startups in the South-East Asian region, where the population in emerging markets remains largely unbanked.
The Manila-based company was among the 10 startup finalists at Echelon Asia Summit, previously known as Echelon, an annual regional event organised by Singapore-based startup blog e27.
The event combines exhibitions, conferences and pitching competitions, bringing together startup ecosystem players, investors and entrepreneurs.
The finalists came from all over the region after a 14-city run of local Echelon satellite events. Judges for the competition comprised venture capitalists from firms such as 500 Startups, Global Brain, Rakuten Ventures, Gree Ventures and Kickstart Ventures.
PawnHero is an online pawnshop. It offers the PawnHero card, which acts as a debit card that allows customers to withdraw cash from ATMs, pay bills, and perform financial transactions without a bank account.
The startup aims to be the financial solution for the unbanked, and is looking to launch operations in Vietnam soon, cofounder and chief executive officer David Margendorff (pic above) told Echelon participants.
Echelon Asia Summit included other awards, such as the Global Brain award, which was presented to myRealTrip, a Korean startup which connects travellers to local and professional guides who are able to tailor tours and provide local insights.
myRealTrip currently only caters to Korean travellers, but is looking to launch a new product for others in July, intending to expand its user base beyond South Korea.
Shanghai-based startup ChaseFuture bagged both the Braintree-Paypal Most Promising Startup award and the People’s Choice Award.
The People’s Choice award, as e27 cofounder and chief executive officer Mohan Belani put it, “is here for the audience to recognise the best startup, as clearly the judges don’t know better.”
ChaseFuture, an online admissions consulting platform, helps students choose and prepare for university applications in the United Kingdom and the United States.
It is currently seeking Series A funding of about US$5 million to establish itself as the market leader in China, as well as to build up its operations and partnerships.
Singapore’s National Research Foundation also presented Tech Venture Awards to nine startups: Smipter, Adcoin, PawnHero, Jewel Paymentech, Flow Account, Replicon, GlobeTrekker Challenge, Sustainable Alternative Lighting Corp, and Nanu.
These startups will receive a free booth at the Singapore Tech Venture convention in September.
Other notable startups in the final 10 were Wovn.io, which has developed code to translate websites into various language at the click of a button; and AirShr, which has developed a Bluetooth device capable of capturing radio content.
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