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.