TECHNOLOGY logistics start-up Shiptek Solutions Corp. is setting sights on expanding to Singapore by late this year to early next year. This as the company officially welcomed on Wednesday Union Bank of the Philippines, Inc. as a strategic investor.

“We’re looking at later this year to next year to start expanding to our first country… We’ll probably expand to Singapore because that’s one of the major hubs in the world, one of the biggest port cities in the world. Then from there, we see where we go,” Shiptek Chief Marketing Officer Nico Martin R. Gonzales told reporters Wednesday.

UnionBank, through digital unit UBX Philippines Corp., bought 52.37 million shares in Shiptek, or 30% of the company, via a share purchase agreement signed May 9. Mr. Gonzales said the entry of the Aboitiz-led lender positions Shiptek to boost its domestic presence and gives it room to focus on going international.

“With the partnership with UnionBank, we secure our hold of the Philippines, make it easier for us to expand in the Philippines. But we are looking for that strategic market that will take us to the next level as well for global expansion,” he said, adding that the company is looking at China, Hong Kong and India.

Shiptek is a Filipino firm led by Eugenio “Jun” S. Ynion, Jr., which developed digital platform XLOG that streamlines the freight forwarding logistics process for containerized cargos and couriers.

It is targeting to handle 500,000 to 1 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) by yearend, from the mid- to high-thousand TEUs it has been recording the past six months.

“With the support of UnionBank and their expertise in dealing with shippers and service providers alike for their financial needs, we really believe we can hit our target aspiration of 500,000 to 1 million TEUs by the end of the year,” Mr. Gonzales said.

UnionBank said its investment in Shiptek is part of its aim to find industries where banking services could be embedded.

“This whole concept of embedded banking is really built around how to facilitate the banking activities around a particular ecosystem… The whole idea is you need to be able to embed the banking experience as part of the activities in these ecosystems, and all of these ecosystems are moving to platforms,” UnionBank Senior Vice-President and Platform Development Head Ramon G. Duarte said.

“Logistics is a key stage in the whole supply chain process that happens between corporates, their suppliers and their customers. Wherever there is a logistics activity, there is very likely to be a financial transaction as well,” he added.

Mr. Duarte noted after Shiptek, UnionBank is currently in discussions with health maintenance organizations (HMOs) over possible joint ventures. He also cited opportunities in education and health care sectors. — Denise A. Valdez