Ant Financial leads $92m funding in Chinese e-signature service provider Tsign

Photographer: AFP/Getty Images

Tsign, an electronic signature service provider in China, announced on Monday that it has raised 650 million yuan ($91.87 million) in a Series C round of financing led by Ant Financial.

Gobi Partners, a venture capital firm investing across China, Hong Kong and ASEAN, and Chinese venture capital company Eminence Ventures, which specialises in enterprise services, also participated in the current round of investment.

The cooperation between Tsign and Ant Financial represents “an alliance between two market majors,” said Tsign in a statement on the company website. Ant Financial, the fintech arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, currently has 1.2 billion users worldwide.

The funding will help Tsign reload ammunition to compete for a larger market share against homegrown counterparts including BestSign, which was the largest e-signature company in China with a 35.8% market share in 2018, according to iiMedia Research. In July 2018, BestSign merged with Beijing-based rival 51signing.com, which ranked third with an 8.5% market share, to create a market giant serving almost half of the clients in the Chinese market.

Tsign ranked fourth with a 7.2% market share, while Shenzhen-based Fadada.com came second, taking up 18.1% market share in 2018, according to iiMedia Research.

Tsign, founded in December 2002 and based in Hangzhou, started the business as an online platform for electronic signatures, and expanded to provide other services covering the verification, archiving and online management of contracts, as well as related legal services.

The company has served more than 210 million individual users and over 2.89 million companies in the fields of finance, internet, supply chain, intellectual property protection, and business registration as of June 2019, according to the statement. It counts Alibaba, Baidu, and Chinese video surveillance products suppliers Hikvision and Dahua Technology as its corporate clients.

The company launched a so-called “smart contract strategy” in September 2019, seeking to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to provide more convenient and intelligent online electronic signature services.

Tsign will use the proceeds to increase investment in e-signature product research and development, as well as talent recruitment. The company also plans to enhance the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in its smart contract offerings.

The Chinese e-signature service provider has so far raised four funding rounds including the latest investment. In January 2018, Tsign closed 150 million yuan ($21.20 million) in a Series B round led by Shenzhen-based private equity firm Qianhai Wutong M&A Fund with participation from THG Ventures, a venture capital firm backed by Chinese state-owned Tsinghua Holdings.

The company also secured 45 million yuan ($6.35 million) in a Series A round led by Chinese venture capital company Oriental Fortune Capital in December 2016. The firm closed 10 million yuan ($1.41 million) in a Series pre-A round from investors including Hangzhou-based Joynt Capital in early 2015.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.