Thai lender SCB eyes more GOJEK-like deals to stay on top of tech game

Tana Pothikamjorn, executive vice president and head of digital banking platform at Siam Commercial Bank.

For Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), Thailand’s largest lender by assets, investing in Indonesia-based ride-hailing unicorn GOJEK was a strategic way to counter the rise of tech-enabled models that are disrupting traditional businesses.

“We try to find a way to partner quickly and scale with startups. Even with the big platforms, if you cannot beat them, partner with them. So find more strategic partnerships that you can invest in and grow out of them,” SCB executive vice-president Tana Pothikamjorn told DealStreetAsia on the sidelines of the Bangkok Fintech Fair.

Pothikamjorn said SCB sees more such strategic partnerships as its answer to the rise of technology.

Earlier this month, GOJEK announced an undisclosed investment from SCB as part of its ongoing Series F funding round. The lender will also partner with the ride-hailing startup’s Thai affiliate GET in the area of payments.

The oldest bank in Thailand, SCB is also among the most active in terms of investing in the fintech sector. It operates a venture capital fund, Digital Ventures, which is also a limited partner in other funds such as Siri Ventures, Golden Gate Ventures, Nyca Fund II and Dymon Asia.

In addition, with the doubling of Digital Ventures’ fund size, Pothikamjorn said the firm expected to do more direct investments in startups.

“Initially, it was mostly a strategic mandate, so you have seen a lot of the fund-of-funds operation. But there are opportunities like GOJEK where we have a solid partnership that we can build on a single direct investment.”

Edited excerpts of an interview:-

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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.

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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.