Credit: LHoFT

On Wednesday 3 July 2024, the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (LHoFT) announced the successful conclusion of the inaugural edition of Catapult: Financial Inclusion Southeast Asia.

This acceleration programme is designed to empower fintech startups to achieve significant growth and to drive innovation. Hosted over two intensive weeks in Bangkok, Thailand, and in Luxembourg, the programme offered a platform for collaboration and development in financial services.

Catapult, renowned for accelerating fintech startups globally since 2016, closed its first edition in Asia "with resounding success", noted LHoFT. Supported by Luxembourg's Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, the programme welcomed fifteen fintech startups from ten countries.

Over the two weeks, participants engaged in 37 workshops and over 90 hours of intensive training, guided by 40+ mentors and involving 32 partners from ASEAN fintech associations and Luxembourg stakeholders. This immersive experience provided startups with essential tools, personalised mentoring, and networking opportunities, including participation in Money 20/20 Bangkok and Nexus 2050 in Luxembourg.

Deputy Director for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, Geneviève Hengen, commented: "This first edition of the Catapult: Inclusion Southeast Asia has been a transformative journey for all participants, fostering diversity and innovation by empowering underrepresented fintech entrepreneurs with the resources, mentorship and global network needed to develop solutions that uplift the most vulnerable communities, ensuring inclusive growth and financial accessibility."

This edition featured diverse fintech startups, spanning blockchain, digital banking, payments, credit scoring, risk management, IT consulting and sustainable financing. InvestEd (Philippines), with its Gen Z-focused lending platform, won the competition and was awarded €10,000. Farmvocacy (Philippines), with its farm sustainability efforts, won the "Coup de Coeur" prize and was awarded a full invitation to the African Microfinance Week.

Among the Catapult Alumni were AIForesee (Indonesia), BlueDuck (Malaysia), Ekko (Vietnam), Fina Fintech (Laos), Finfra (Indonesia), GoodTech Information Systems Inc. (Philippines), Global CreditPros, iCare Group (Singapore), Laneth Tech Company (Thailand), Lao Mobile Money (Laos), LTS VENTURES (Laos), Noburo Wealth-Being (Thailand) and Wahine Capital (Malaysia). Each brought unique technologies and perspectives, enriching the vibrant fintech innovation ecosystem in the region.

LHoFT added that Catapult: Inclusion Southeast Asia's debut yields "impressive" outcomes, with startups reporting major improvements in business strategies and vision. Notably, collaborations such as the partnership between Farmvocacy and Laneth Tech, born from the programme, exemplify Catapult's transformative potential. This marks the first official partnership among several announced within the cohort. Startups are also actively pursuing investments from top financial institutions and venture capitalists, as well as forging essential connections with potential clients.

Catapult's central mission is to generate impact by connecting fintech ecosystems worldwide with Luxembourg, fostering cross-border collaboration and knowledge exchange to enhance global competitiveness. This initiative not only opens doors to new customer bases and investment opportunities but also cultivates synergies across diverse markets.

LHoFT CEO Nasir Zubairi stated: "Catapult: Financial Inclusion Southeast Asia has demonstrated the power of fintech to bridge markets and foster sustainable growth. This programme underscores Luxembourg's commitment to being a pivotal hub for global financial innovation and inclusion."

LHoFT aims to drive global financial inclusion by expanding its Catapult programme to new regions and fostering innovative approaches. The latest edition of Catapult highlighted the impact of collaboration and innovation in the fintech sector. The programme accelerates not only business growth but also cultivates a global fintech community. There are three more editions slated for 2024: Catapult: Green Fintech, Catapult: Inclusion Ukraine and Catapult: Inclusion Africa.