Smile API, the leading information infrastructure startup company in the Philippines focused on employment and finance data, has once again raised significant funding concluded by its new investor Afore Capital, a $300 million US-based venture firm focused on pre-seed startup investing.
It was the second seed round for Smile since its founding in April of last year with CreditEase, and Plug and Play as investors. Figures of the latest pre-Series A round are not disclosed. Anamitra Banerji, Managing Partner at Afore Capital, said they invested in Smile because of the progress the startup has made in a short span of time pertaining to its Application Programming Interface (API), a first-of-its-kind digital platform in the Asia Pacific (APAC) Region that enables wider financial inclusion by serving as a bridge between the public and financial institutions in terms of financial data or source of income data.
Smile's major focus at present is on employment data of casual employees, freelancers including gig workers. Banerji pointed out that one of the main challenges in the local market in Southeast Asia is data, like banking and finance data, which lenders require lenders to provide before making credit decisions. Smile bridges this gap by enabling people to get and make use of their employment data.
"Financial inclusion is the first step in being fully open to all the possibilities that life has to offer. You have to have financial security and must take risks. But you can't take risks because no one is willing to lend you," Banerji noted. Besides employment data, Smile's digital platform also allows e-wallets, loans, insurances, digital bank accounts and many more applications to become available through a simple but clear white-labelled interface within the client application using the Smile API infrastructure, all while keeping the end user in full control of what data is shared and with whom.
The Afore executive shared they are excited to work with Smile API because of the opportunity that it offers to a lot of Filipinos and folks across Southeast Asia.
"Smile API really empowers a lot of developers, fintech, insurtech and a whole host of other services that are oriented towards financial inclusion. But providing employment data history in API format makes it very easy for Fintechs to build around and ultimately offer lending and credit products," Banerji added.
Smile API CEO Jerome Eger, along with Smile Chief Product Officer Jan Alvin Pabellon, likewise announced the company has expanded its coverage to 40 million Filipinos -- basically anyone who is employed whether they are a gig worker or salaried employee.
Smile's two new customers include local B2B logistics provider Tarana.ph, and fintech startup Plentina.
Smile Employee Survey
Smile also announced a partnership with Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, Inc. (TWHI), where it will donate Php50 for every answered survey. TWHI is a non-stock, non-government organization, providing services to persons with disabilities (PWD). The survey can be found here.
About Smile API
Smile Technology Pte Ltd is one trusted source for employment data in Asia. Smile provides user-authorized access to valuable employment and income data from HR, payroll, commerce, and marketplace platforms through a single API. Banks, fintech, recruitment agencies, and other service providers can leverage employment and income data to increase adoption and conversion, and reduce cost, and risk. Permission to access their own personal data is given by each individual user, to enable seamless data sharing with trusted parties.
About Afore Capital
Afore Capital is a $ 300 million venture fund that focuses on the pre-seed stage and is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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