Thai fintech startup Ascend Money picks up $ 150 million for a valuation of $ 1.5 billion – TechCrunch


Ascend Money, the Thailand-based fintech startup behind TrueMoney, an electronic wallet service, today announced it has raised a $ 150 million Series C round for a valuation of $ 1.5 billion.

The Series C cycle was led by Charoen Pokphand Group, which is a major shareholder of Ascend Money, with participation from Bow Wave Capital Management and returning backer Ant Group.

Ascend Money will use the product to develop its electronic wallet application – TrueMoney Wallet – and expand its digital financial services ranging from digital loans and digital investments to cross-border remittances in Southeast Asia.

The company, which was founded in 2013, also plans to strengthen its global operations in six countries: Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia and the Philippines.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, electronic payments through TrueMoney Wallet have grown exponentially due to social distancing measures and growing public awareness of contactless transactions in the region, Tanyapong Thamavaranukupt, co-chair, told TechCrunch of Ascend Money. Its users in Thailand have grown from 17 million at the start of 2021 to 20 million now, while transactions in its online payment use case have grown by more than 75%, Thamavaranukupt said.

“The growth of electronic payment suggests changing consumer spending habits as Southeast Asia moves towards a digital economy and cashless society,” Thamavaranukupt said.

“The disruptive effects of the pandemic have accelerated the growth of the digital economy in Southeast Asia,” said Itai Lemberger, Founder and CEO of Bow Wave Capital Management.

Its total payment volume stood at $ 14 billion in 2020 in the six countries of Southeast Asia, an 84% growth between 2019 and 2020, according to its press release. About 70% came from Thailand while 30% came from the international market, Co-Chair Thamavaranukupt said. In Thailand, Ascend Money has around 70% of the market share based on its own research, Thamavaranukupt said.

Ascend Money told TechCrunch that it has so far amassed a total of 50 million users through TrueMoney and offline channels, including around 88,000 TrueMoney agent networks, which is its main strength for the business. regional expansion.

The e-wallet service also serves as a payment channel for B2B, ranging from big brands to local SME owners as well as street market entrepreneurs. The TrueMoney Wallet platform provides digital lending service to clients, including small business entrepreneurs, who do not have traditional credit scores to access digital loans, as well as the payment service, Thamavaranukupt said. .

“In addition to the e-wallet, we are an agent-based payment and remittance service provider. Since last year we have also deployed TrueMoney Wallet for agents [networks] and migrated our offline agent to the online platform, which would help improve and digitize their operations, ”Thamavaranukupt said.

True Money Agents are local entrepreneurs, who have registered with Ascend Money to earn additional income by being their agents to provide services such as bill payment, phone top-ups, and domestic remittance services. and cross-border, he explained.

“We provide TrueMoney Wallet and the TrueMoney Agent service in certain other countries outside of Thailand. Most users are unbanked and the underbanked population has limited access to basic financial services, ”Thamavaranukupt said.

“Ascend Money provides a financial platform of opportunities for financially excluded people as well as SMEs in the region. The company’s success is also a testament to Thailand’s ability and its strong ecosystem to support FinTech companies and domestic startups for their overseas expansion, ”said Suphachai Chearavanont, Founder and Chairman of the Board of administration of Ascend Money.

Last year, Ascend Money also opened a service for expats like Burmese and Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand, allowing them to register with TrueMoney Wallet and transfer money to their families in the home country. , Thamavaranukupt said.

Ascend Money plans to go public after reaching $ 1.5 billion in valuation, co-chair Monsinee Nakapanant told TechCrunch without providing a specific timeline.


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