Singapore based institutional FX liquidity and tech solutions startup Spark Systems has announced additional investment in the company alongside robust volumes so far in 2020.
Spark said that global banks HSBC and Citigroup will be participating in Spark’s Series B funding round, which has so far raised $16.5 million over two tranches. OSK Ventures International Bhd., a Kuala Lumpur-based investment firm, also joined the current round, which was done at a valuation of just over $70 million according to Spark Systems’ CEO Wong Joo Seng.
HSBC, Citi and OSK join Goldman Sachs as investors in the company.
Mr. Wong stated that the funds raised will be sufficient for the next three and a half years of operations and growth, although more investors will likely participate in the current round later this year.
According to Mr. Wong “trading started to surge into late February just as the contagion spread.”
Singapore has become the world’s third leading FX trading hub behind only London and New York. According to BIS data, Singapore-based FX trading volume accounts for roughly 10% of the $6 trillion plus of daily global activity in the currency markets.
Spark currently provides clients with prices from global banks which have pricing systems set up in Singapore.
“We are executing in Singapore on a one to two millisecond time basis,” Mr. Wong said, noting that executions in London or New York could take on the order of 380 milliseconds, so the time savings from the regional operation is substantial.
Spark apparently recorded an average $5.5 billion-a-day trading volume during Q1-2020, up from $2.5 billion during the same period in 2019. But the slowing global economy is now starting to dampen activity in the second quarter, Mr. Wong said, with average trading volume sliding to $4.5 billion to $5 billion a day.
“If you have GDP shrinking, if you have numerous companies that are badly affected, it will affect the level of economic activity and the amount of forex being traded,” he said.
The vast majority of the firm’s trades currently involve Group-of-Ten assets, but Mr. Wong said that Spark sees opportunities for the firm to boost its capabilities in emerging-market currencies such as the Korean won, Chinese yuan, Malaysian ringgit and Indonesian rupiah.
“We see Singapore as a very natural hub for corporate treasury and for emerging market currencies price discovery,” he said. “We’d like to be the center where that is being traded.”