International Finance

UOB’s private equity unit co-leads S$42.2 mn funding of Thai fintech

UOB Lightnet
UOB was among the top three investors in the funding round for Lightnet

UOB Venture Management, the private equity unit of UOB, co-led a US$31.2 million (S$42.2 million) funding round for Thai fintech startup Lightnet.

In the Series A funding round for the Bangkok-headquartered Thai fintech startup Lightnet, UOB Venture Management was among the top three investors, with the other two being Hanwha Investment and Securities and Seven Bank.

Apart from the trio, other investors in the fray included the likes of Singapore-based Hopeshine Ventures, Signum Capital and Du Capital. Uni-President Asset Holdings and HashKey Capital.

Chatchaval Jiaravanon, whose family operates the Charoen Pokphand Group, among Thailand’s largest organisations, is one of the co-founders of Lightnet. The other founder is Tridbodi Arunanondchai, an erstwhile investment banker.

Lightnet said that all 7-Eleven retail shops in Japan and around 69,200 convenience outlets across the globe are owned by investor Seven Bank.

Over 9,000 7-Eleven and Starbucks across Taiwan, China and the Philippines belong to another investor Uni-President Asset Holdings, which is the investment subsidiary of Uni-President Enterprises Corp.

The Bangkok-based start-up offers remittance services by utilising blockchain and linking the existing financial systems with its network of cash agents, which refers to places that can dole out cash, such as convenience outlets.

It seeks to substitute the informal banking and Swift processes currently employed by banks, and it will primarily focus on Southeast Asian expatriate workers who don’t possess bank accounts of their own as its customers.

The money generated from the fundraising will be deployed to augment Lightnet’s investment in the underlying blockchain technology on Stellar Network – the fintech’s blockchain partner, and to develop a financial mobility network.

Suvicha Sudchai, Chief Executive Officer of Lightnet said that the Thai fintech  startup’s core platform is ready and the first operation is expected in the initial quarter of 2020.

He added that the firm will collaborate with payment and remittance allies such as MoneyGram, Seven Bank, Yeahka and Ksher – from Japan, South Korea and various South-east Asian countries to guarantee an effective activation.

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