Bangkok-based fintech company Lightnet has nabbed $31.2 million in a Series A funding round to further develop a blockchain financial mobility network, according to an announcement.
Investors who participated in the round include UOB Venture Management, Hanwha Investment and Securities, 7-Eleven owner Seven Bank, Uni-President Asset Holdings, Chinese automotive and financial conglomerate WanXiang Group’s investment arm HashKey Capital, and Singapore-based Hopeshine Ventures, Du Capital and Signum Capital.
This marks one of the largest Series A rounds in Southeast Asia.
Thailand has a more mature financial sector than its peers in the region, but overall funding into the country’s startups has been modest compared to neighbours such as Indonesia and Vietnam. Following large financing rounds in companies such as aCommerce, Pomelo and most recently Finnomena, this significant investment in Lightnet could heat up interest in the ecosystem.
Lightnet was co-founded by Chatchaval Jiaravanon, a family member of the Thai conglomerate CP Group, and serial tech entrepreneur and former investment banker Tridbodi Arunanondchai. The startup offers smart contracts and distributed ledgers on its Stellar Network to target the $1 trillion remittance market.
Lightnet started with addressing the $150 billion market in Southeast Asia, where unbanked migrant workers still rely on outdated, costly and fragmented services.
“It’s vital that we build an ecosystem to provide Lightnet access to our partners’ vast user base and facilitate deeper penetration into local markets. We project that within three years, Lightnet will facilitate over $50 billion worth of annual transactions,” said Tridbodi Arunanondchai, the firm’s vice-chairman.
Lightnet offers three solutions, BridgeNet, LiquidNet and SmartNet, with the main platform already completed and the first transaction slated for the first quarter of this year, it said.
“In addition to the potential 500,000 cash agents across our ecosystem, Lightnet will integrate with several renowned payment and remittance partners such as MoneyGram, Seven Bank, Yeahka, Ksher across Japan, South Korea and several other Southeast Asia nations to ensure successful activation of our ecosystem,” said Lightnet CEO Suvicha Sudchai.
The lead backers in Lightnet’s Series A round have been active investors in fintech. UOB Venture Management has recently invested in Indonesian lending startup Amartha. Its parent bank UOB earlier debuted TMRW in Thailand, claiming the unit as ASEAN’s first mobile-only bank.
UOB Venture Management has also launched Asia Impact Investment Fund II, which has a mandate to invest in financial inclusion platforms.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s Hanwha is targeting more Southeast Asia investments in fintech as well as other sectors through its $200-million partnership fund with Singapore-based Golden Gate Ventures.