GoBear ceases operations across Asia following recent staff cut

Singapore-based fintech company GoBear is ceasing operations across all its markets. In a LinkedIn post, GoBear said it will begin the process of closing the business. It is added that COVID-19 has created a challenging operating environment for the company, and it has been unable to raise more funds to continue operations despite its best efforts. 

"We had amazing employees, partners, vendors, and fans along the way that made our accomplishments possible. Thank you to everybody who believed in us and has been part of our journey," GoBear said in a LinkedIn post. According to a press statement, the factors that led to the decision included a prolonged period of weakened demand for some financial products and services, in particular travel insurance.

GoBear will be conducted in a phased and controlled manner over a short time frame and in adherence with local laws and regulations across the markets that it is operating in. GoBear's website is currently active in seven markets: Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The company currently has 165 staff across Asia, and 20 staff on its marketing team. Marketing duties are helmed by its chief growth officer Nelson Allen, who was previously appointed CMO in April 2019. Meanwhile Jose Kasijo helms the role of vice president of marketing at GoBear. 

Adrian Chng, CEO of GoBear, said: “GoBear has made the difficult decision to close the business. This is a difficult time for our employees, and our priority is to conduct the process with the utmost care and guidance to our staff. We take our responsibility to our customers, employees, partners, and vendors very seriously and we intend to fulfil our existing commitments to them as part of an orderly business closure process." According to its press statement, employees will be provided their required notice periods and salaries. GoBear’s intends to fulfill existing commitments to employees, partners, vendors, and work with the relevant authorities to ensure adherence to local laws and regulations.

Founded in 2015, GoBear started as a metasearch engine and eventually grew into a financial services and data platform aimed to improve people’s financial health across Asia. According to the company, it has served over 55 million users searching for more than 2,000 personal financial products. GoBear's financial services platform comprises an online financial supermarket, digital insurance brokerage, and digital lending all built on a strong foundation of alternative data. 

The closure of business comes four months after GoBear cut 22 staff from its workforce. The Straits Times reported that the fintech company let go of six employees in Singapore, and 16 employees from its overseas counterparts. The staff cut, which made up approximately 11% of its workforce, was reportedly also due to the impact of COVID-19. It is added that GoBear attempted to mitigate the negative impact by implementing other cost-cutting initiatives such as stopping non-essential projects, as well as reducing fixed cost and software licences.

In 2019, GoBear raised US$80 million in funding, which it used to improve the platform’s search and match functionality. Specific areas included customer onboarding and fulfilment solutions, personal financial management, alternative credit scoring, financial education, and investment platforms, said GoBear CEO Adrian Chng in a press release. GoBear said then that it banked on two approaches to acquire access to additional key technology and grow its services – partnerships with, and investments into other technology companies.

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