Cross-border trade is taking off for more small and medium enterprises in Asia. The pandemic hindered the progress as owners had to halt face-to-face meetings with their trade partners due to various lockdowns and travel bans.
For Rahul Shinghal, CEO of digital escrow platform Tazapay, cross-border trade relies strongly on trust, especially for small businesses. There are complex issues—payments need to be arranged, specific terms and conditions met, and documentation produced.
“It can be hard to feel assured that either the goods or payment will arrive,” he told KrASIA. Deals sometimes fall through completely if one side loses confidence. “This sends businesses back to square one, leaving them with wasted time and resources on a deal that didn’t materialize,” he said.
Shinghal saw a business opportunity. International B2B commerce for SMEs is an addressable market of approximately USD 8 trillion globally, while Southeast Asia alone accounts for USD 500 billion, according to him. Revitalizing and streamlining trade is especially important during the recovery.
Tazapay helps SMEs to run simple background checks on potential business partners, which can be completed within 24 hours, saving time and money for everyone. The company says it has made more than 500 assessments for customers.
Once a deal is sealed, Tazapay acts as a third party holding funds securely until both sides have confirmed that the obligations of the deal have been fulfilled. It will return the money if one party fails in its commitment.
Founded in April 2020 by Shinghal, Arul Kumaravel, and Saroj Mishra, Tazapay is part the fourth batch of Sequoia Capital India’s accelerator program Surge. It currently serves SMEs in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and India.
The company announced on Wednesday an additional investment of USD 1.75 million from existing investors Surge and Saison Capital, along with new backers such as RTP Global and January Capital. It previously bagged USD 3.2 million in December 2020.
“Tazapay’s solution will become increasingly critical as businesses continue to shift rapidly to digital-first operations,” said January Capital partner Benjamin Dunphy.
Earlier this year, the company partnered with Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)’s global trading network Proxtera, for which Tazapay will provide a protected payment service. We expect to see more of these partnerships in the future, promised Shinghal.