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Indian mobile gaming platform Mobile Premier League raises $90 million

Mobile Premier League (MPL) has raised $90 million in a new financing round as the two-year-old Bangalore-based esports and mobile gaming platform demonstrates fast-growth and looks to expand outside of India.

SIG, early-stage tech investor RTP Global, and MDI Ventures led MPL’s $90 million Series C financing round, with participation from existing investors Sequoia India, Go-Ventures, and Base Partners. Times Internet and actor Salman Khan are also early investors in MPL. The new investment brings MPL’s to-date raise to $130.5 million. It was valued between $375 million to $400 million pre-money, according to a person familiar with the matter.

MPL operates a pure-play gaming platform that hosts a range of tournaments. The app, which has amassed over 60 million users, also serves as a publishing platform for other gaming firms. MPL, which does not develop games of its own, hosts about 70 games across multiple sports on the app today.

The Bangalore-based startup also offers fantasy sports, a segment that has taken off in many parts of India in recent years.

Because fantasy sports is only one part of the business, the coronavirus outbreak that has shut most real-world matches has not impeded the startup’s growth in recent months. The startup claimed it has grown four times since March this year and more than 2 billion cash transactions have been recorded on the app to date.

Sai Srinivas, co-founder and chief executive of Mobile Premier League, told TechCrunch in an interview that the new financing round validates that esports is here to stay and it is beginning to see its e-commerce moment.

“I believe that esports will be inducted by the Olympics way before than cricket does. And the market cap of esports will most probably will exceed those of all physical sports combined in the next 10 years,” he said.

“Even in an environment as challenging as the current one, we are impressed with the success and accessibility of the platform concept – giving users a unique variety of experiences and social interaction. MPL’s track record speaks for itself, so we’re excited to support the team as they grow and expand,” said Galina Chifina, Managing Partner at RTP Global, in a statement.

But since an aspect of MPL is about fantasy sports, its app is not available on the Google Play Store. Google Play Store prohibits online casino, and other kinds of betting, a guideline Google reiterated last week as it pulled Indian financial services platform Paytm from the app store for eight hours. Srinivas declined to comment on Google and Paytm’s episode. 

The startup plans to expand outside of India in the following months, said Srinivas. He did not name the new markets, but suggested that India’s neighboring countries as well as Japan and South Korea will likely be part of it. 

The startup also plans to expand its gaming catalog and offer more marketing support to third-party developers, who currently either sell license to MPL or work through revenue-sharing agreement with the Indian startup.

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Qoala raises $13.5M to grow its insurance platform in Indonesia

Online lending firms might be beginning to feel the heat of the coronavirus pandemic in Southeast Asia, but investors’ faith in digital insurance startups remains unflinching in the region.

Jakarta-based Qoala has raised $13.5 million in its Series A financing round, the one-year-old startup said Tuesday. Centauri Fund, a joint venture between funds from South Korea’s Kookmin Bank and Telkom Indonesia, led the round.

Sequoia India, Flourish Ventures, Kookmin Bank Investments, Mirae Asset Venture Investment, Mirae Asset Sekuritas and existing investors MassMutual Ventures Southeast Asia, MDI Ventures, SeedPlus and Bank Central Asia’s Central Capital Ventura participated in the round, which pushes the startup’s to-date raise to $16.5 million.

Qoala works with leading insurers including AXA Mandiri, Tokio Marine, Great Eastern to offer customers cover against phone display damage, e-commerce logistics and hotel-quality checks. The startup says it offers personalized products to customers and eases the burden while making claims by allowing them to upload pictures.

The startup maintains partnership with several e-commerce firms including Grabkios, JD.ID, Shopee and Tokopedia and hotel and travel booking firms PegiPegi and RedBus.

It uses machine learning to detect fraud claims. It’s a win-win scenario for customers, who can make claims easily and have more affordable and sachet insurance products to buy, and for insurers, who can reach more customers.

Qoala processes more than 2 million policies each month, up from 7,000 in March last year. The startup said it is working on insurance products to cover health and peer-to-peer categories. The startup, which employs about 150 people currently, plans to double its headcount in a year.

“As a relatively new entrant in the space we are delighted to partner with leading global investors whose tremendous thought leadership as well as operational experience will allow us to maintain our innovative edge. This truly demonstrates the ecosystem’s belief in what Qoala is trying to achieve — humanizing insurance and making it accessible and affordable to all,” said Harshet Lunani, founder and chief executive of Qoala, in a statement.

Kenneth Li, managing partner at Centauri Fund, said Qoala’s multi-channel approach has the potential to unlock Indonesia’s untapped insurance industry.

“Our thesis identified that Indonesia has a considerably low gross written premium (GWP) to GDP ratio in comparison to other emerging countries, coupled with the large growing middle class in need of more security in their financial planning which allows immense potential for the insurance sector to take off in Indonesia through innovative propositions,” he added.

According to one estimate (PDF), Southeast Asia’s digital insurance market is currently valued at $2 billion and is expected to grow to $8 billion by 2025. Last week, Singapore-based Igloo extended its Series A financing round to add $8.2 million to it.

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