Exclusive: Thailand’s Siam Commercial Bank to launch VC arm to fund tech startups

The Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) is setting up its first venture capital fund, with a target size of up to $50 million, focussed on startups raising Series A or higher stage capital, a source familiar with the development told DEALSTREETASIA.

SCB is currently in the process of seeking approval from the Bank of Thailand, and it expects to launch the fund in the first quarter of this year.

The contours of the new fund are currently being worked out, it is learnt.

“The fund size will be around $30-$50 million and it will invest in technology-focused startups,” the source said.

The bank has roped in Thana Thienachariya, former marketing executive at DTAC, to run the fund and also a new subsidiary, that will be focussed on fintech research.

“SCB will also set up a new subsidiary, which will focus on doing FinTech-related research. The research budget will come from 1-1.5 per cent of the bank’s net profit,” the source added.

Over the last two to three years, the south east Asian country has been witnessing lot of interest and some action from the venture capital industry who are keen to tap the technology startups in the region.

The ecosystem is maturing to make way for individual investors some of who are setting up their own funds to invest in startups.

Tan Passakornnatee, founder of Ichitan Group in Thailand, and Paiboon Damrongchaitham, president of GMM Grammy Pcl, have set up a venture capital fund with their personal money worth 13 million baht under a new company, called Paiboon and Tan Co Ltd.

They scout for potential startups through their TV programmes, called ‘Suer Tid Peek (Tigers With Wings), a pitching platform for startups.

“There will be five committees to comment and select startups, which can create positive impact on Thai society, and winners will receive the seed funding from Paiboon and Tan Co Ltd,” Tan told.

DEALSTEETASIA learnt from another source in a brokerage house that Apple Wealth’s chief executive Prasit Srisuwan has been in talks with Suphajee Suthumpun to launch a new venture capital fund in the first half of this year. Suphajee was former chief executive of ThaiCom, a subsidiary of Intouch Holdings, before serving as chief executive of Dusit Thani Pcl since the beginning of this year.

Thailand startups have raised investments from a couple of active venture capital firms such as Ardent Capital, Inspire Ventures and Galaxy Ventures.

Apart from venture capital funds, there is a spate of corporate funds from the houses of telecom majors while the banking sector is also treading this space, particularly the developments in fintech, with interest. All the big three telcom operators in Thailand have launched the corporate venture capital units, includingInVent by Intouch Holdings, DTAC Accelerate and True Incube by True Corp.