Ascend Money, a startup under Thailand’s biggest agribusiness conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group), has become the nation’s first financial technology (fintech) unicorn after its latest funding, it said Monday.
US investment firm Bow Wave Capital Management LP joined CP Group and Jack Ma’s Ant Group Co. in the USD 150 million financing round, Ascend Money said Monday. This funding raised the company’s valuation to USD 1.5 billion.
The company will use the fresh capital to improve its mobile payments application TrueMoney Wallet, including expanding digital financial services across South-East Asia.
Ascend Money Co-President Tanyapong Thamavaranukupt said he “expect[s] more competition in the industry.” according to Bloomberg, as competition from local rivals in fintech has begun to be more aggressive.
The company’s goal is to have 35 million e-wallet users or half the population of Thailand by 2023, up from the current 18 million, he said.
Last week, the country’s oldest bank and third-largest lender Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) unveiled plans to reform its business structure to invest in fintech, expecting to become the ASEAN leader in five years.
Founded in 2013, Ascend Money has grown rapidly by utilizing CP Group’s extensive network of 7-Eleven convenience stores in Thailand. It provides users with online payment services such as mobile top-ups, bill payments, and peer-to-peer transfers under the TrueMoney brand.
The company now has operations in six countries: Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Its total payment volume stood at USD 14 billion in 2020.
Ascend Money is also considering going public after reaching a valuation of USD 1.5 billion, co-President Monsinee Nakapanant told TechCrunch, without providing a specific timeline.