Singapore C2C marketplace snags $85M in Series C

Online classifieds marketplace Carousell secures US$85 million in Series C funding, which will be used to bolster its AI and machine learning capabilities, and adds DBS Bank as an investor and retail partner.

Singapore classifieds online site Carousell has snagged US$85 million in Series C funding, adding DBS Bank to its crop of investors and as a retail partner on its marketplace.

Co-led by Rakuten Ventures and EDBI, the latest round also included other existing investors 500 Startups, Golden Gate Ventures, and Sequoia India. Carousell previously raised US$41.8 million from three rounds of fundings.

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The consumer-to-consumer (C2C) marketplace currently operates in 19 cities across seven Asian markets, offering more than 144 million listings that have grown to include cars, jobs, financial services, and property.

The fresh injection of funds would go towards beefing up the company's capabilities in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, said Carousell's co-founder and CEO Quek Siu Rui.

"In the past six years, we've gathered a lot more data, feedback, and learnings about the problems and friction people face when buying and selling online," Quek said, adding that it hoped to address these with technology as well as support local cultural norms and behaviours in Southeast Asia. "The investment will enable us to continue building up our teams with top tier talent to accelerate our development of highly anticipated features, and more AI and machine learning capabilities."

According to Carousell, its marketplaces had sold 50 million items since launch. It began adopting AI technology last year with the introduction of features such as smart listings and personalised browsing. It also tapped machine learning and AI to combat fraud.

In a previous interview with ZDNet, Carousell CTO Lucas Ngoo said the company's fraud rate stood at 0.05 percent. The company had deployed TensorFlow and Google's Cloud Machine Learning engine to identify and flag potential fraud risk, Ngoo said.

Carousell added that the new funds would be used to "deepen the company's presence in key markets" as well as support the launch of more categories across the region.

Apart from being a new investor, DBS said it would be offering financial products and payment services on Carousell's platforms. The Singapore bank's group CEO Piyush Gupta said: "We're stepping up our participation in ecosystems, improving the customer journey, and using data to inform our offerings. The investment in Carousell further builds on that."

Gupta added that it hoped to tap the online platforms to reach communities in and outside of Singapore.

DBS also runs its own automotive marketplace, facilitating the sale of used cars between, as well as property marketplace where it matches tenants with landlords. In addition, following the liberalisation of Singapore's electricity market earlier this year, the local bank launched a marketplace to help households switch retailers.