Thailand’s Kasikorn Bank has launched ‘Beacon’, its inaugural FinTech fund with an initial bankroll of 1 billion baht (approx. $30 million) to invest in startups in South East Asia and beyond.
As Thailand’s largest bank by revenue, Kasikorn’s foray to back and invest in FinTech startups underlines the growing appetite for digital banking in the country. Between April and September 2016, the Bank of Thailand – the country’s central bank – revealed a marked 26% uptick in commercial mobile and internet banking transactions.
The launch of ‘Beacon’ is a part of Kasikorn’s core strategy to digitize the bank’s core processes in a number of areas that provides services to over 14 million customers, an announcement by the bank revealed. Beacon, akin to a lighthouse, will invest directly in startups that are both Thai-based and foreign. The bank plans to invest in 3-5 FinTech startups every year.
‘The main objective of Beacon VC investment is to create a sustainable profit for the bank with a strategy of value proposition for its products and services…reducing time and costs of innovation,’ an excerpt from the announcement added.
Additional details point to investments through other venture capital funds. Kasikorn has already backed Singapore-based Dymon Asia, a FinTech VC fund. The bank is also looking at two other unnamed VC funds to invest a total of over 200 million baht (approx. $6 million).
As CCN reported earlier in February, Kasikorn is also working on unveiling its own digital payments platform by the endo of the year. The goal with the FinTech platform is to facilitate faster, cheaper and seamless online banking transactions.
Speaking to TechCrunch following the launch of Beacon, Kasikorn’s senior investment manager Photchara Sripincha also revealed that the fund would look at investment opportunities in startups beyond the continent.
The primary markets for our focus are in Southeast Asia, but we are also opportunistic in Europe and China.
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