Money Forward, a well-established financial tech startup, has launched its IPO, marking a watershed moment for Japan’s burgeoning fintech scene.
The firm, started in 2012, is now worth US$505 million after listing on the Mothers Index Futures section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, which is designed for high-growth and emerging stocks.
“For the fintech industry in Japan, I think this is the first case” of going public, said Money Forward CEO Yosuke Tsuji on Friday at a press conference in Tokyo.
The IPO raised approximately US$25 million.
Tsuji has struck it rich, with his 19 percent stake now worth US$98 million. He led the startup in raising around US$50 million in investment from its inception to series D in October 2016.
Don’t bank on it
Money Forward, which offers financial management services for both individuals and businesses, might be seeking to disrupt Japan’s banks, but it can only do so by partnering with them.
“Local banks are a big part of local infrastructure,” Tsuji told Tech in Asia last year. And so his business forms alliances with the banks to access consumers and enterprises that could benefit from its automated, internet-based approach to finances.
Indeed, a number of Japanese banks are among its investors.
Money Forward is aiming at US$24 million in sales this year, up from 2016’s US$13.6 million.
But, like most startups, the team isn’t turning a profit – it booked an US$8 million loss at the last count.
Converted from Japanese yen. Rate: US$1 = JPY 113.
With reporting from Peter Rothenberg in Tokyo.
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