Block backs Japanese fintech startup Kyash in $41.2M round

Kyash, a Tokyo-based mobile financial app, has raised $41.2 million (4.9 billion JPY) Series D funding. 

The round comes from a number of investors including Japan Post Investment Corporation, Block (formerly known as Square), Greyhound Capital, SMBC Nikko Securities, Altos Ventures, Goodwater Capital, StepStone Group, JAFCO Group, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Capital and others. 

According to a report by Nikkei, this marks Block’s first investment in an Asia-based company. The Series D brings Kyash’s total funding to approximately $107.7 million (12.8 billion JPY) since its inception in 2015. 

The startup will use the latest proceeds to double its headcount and bolster product growth, Shinichi Takatori, chief executive officer of Kyash, told TechCrunch. 

Founded by Takatori, who previously worked in the banking and consulting industry, Kyash offers a mobile banking app that enables consumers to make online and offline payments, remittances, and ATM withdrawal services. In addition, Kaysh, the issuer of Visa Card, provides flexibility by issuing virtual and physical pre-paid debit cards. When asked about its B2B business, Kyash has carved out its white-labeled card issuing platform to infcurion last year and is focused purely on direct channel business, Takatori said in an interview with TechCrunch.  

Takatori said Kyash currently focuses on the Japanese retail market, which is the third-largest economy globally, adding that it may consider overseas expansion in the mid to long term. The company has obtained two licenses – prepaid debit cards license in 2020 and fund transfer license in 2017 – from the government to operate its financial services in Japan. 

“We have achieved unit economics positive already, which is a very positive factor for investors to consider investment,” said Takatori, who did not provide the number of users and total addressable market. 

With social distancing being enforced globally during the COVID pandemic, cashless payments are becoming the norm. Accordingly, the pandemic has impacted global challenger banks’ growth rates. Based on a report by Fincog, Kyash also grew about 22% from January to May 2020 like other competitors, Robinhood and Starling Bank. (Kyash also raised $45 million Series C in March 2020 during the pandemic.) 

“Challenger Bank is a core them in fintech and unbundling of traditional banking has become an irreversible trend globally,” said Takuma Baba, managing director of Japan Post Investment Corporation. “We believe Kyash’s user-first and mobile-first philosophy and product architecture will allow it to evolve into a key platform upon rebundling the financial services with technology.” 

“JAFCO made the first investment in Kyash before the service was launched, and this round marks its fifth investment,” said Atsushi Fujii, partner at JAFCO. “We believe that the company will take a further leap forward and become a leader in the next generation of finance.”

“We will continue to expand our business by creating new alliances and increasing collaborations and garner further trust from our customers,” Takatori said.

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