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S'pore-Based Fintech Startup GoBear Lays Off 22 Staff Despite Recent US$17M Funding

Singapore-based fintech startup GoBear announced yesterday (1 September) that it would be retrenching 22 employees due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This makes up 11 per cent of GoBear’s total workforce of 200 employees. The affected employees are from GoBear’s operations, product and technology teams.

Out of the 22 employees, six are from the Singapore office, of whom three are locals. Around 70 per cent of the team remaining in Singapore are locals or permanent residents.

According to GoBear, affected staff have been provided with post-employment support.

The retrenchment exercise came after a slew of cost-cutting initiative in recent months, including halting non-essential projects and reducing fixed cost and software licenses.

GoBear Remains Resilient Amid Covid-19

According to interviews with GoBear CEO Adrian Chng, GoBear’s main revenue stream comes from its sale of qualified consumer leads to its partners.

In some cases, revenue is acquired through a cost per acquisition model where clients pay only once they’ve sold a product.

Despite Covid-19, GoBear’s financial services platform has seen gross margin positives with growth across the insurance and lending verticals.

Its digital insurance brokerage segment a 52 per cent increase in average order value within the last three months.

GoBear’s acquisition of AsiaKredit, a leading digital consumer lender registered a 50 per cent year-on-year revenue growth from loan products.

A significant portion of GoBear’s transformation into a full financial services platform has also been completed in 2019.

Last year, GoBear raised over US$80 million in funding from Walvis Participaties, a Dutch venture capital fund, and Aegon N.V, a leading financial services provider.

Retrenchment Necessary To “Future Proof” Business

In May 2020, at the height of the pandemic, GoBear also raised another US$17M funding from Walvis Participaties and Aegon N.V to accelerate its transformation.

Since 2015, it has served over 55 million users in seven countries with over 2,000 personal finance products.

GoBear’s goal is to address the 300 million people in the Asian market that remain underserved by existing financial services through financial literacy and inclusion, says Adrian.

Despite GoBear’s advances, Covid-19’s impact has led it to conduct the retrenchment exercise.

“This decision was not taken lightly,” says Adrian.

“We have had to take measures to adapt our business to overcome challenges and future-proof it for what lies ahead, by focusing on our growth engines of digital lending and digital insurance brokerage.”

Featured Image Credit: GoBear

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