In Thailand, banks are starting to look into the local fintech scene

By Anisa Menur A. Maulani for e27

Bangkok Bank is the latest to foray into the industry with US$56 million initial investment budget

The rise of the Thai digital industry has led to more government and corporations participation – including a surge of banks setting up investment arms to fund fintech.

As reported by Bangkok Post, banks are following telco companies that have been investing in tech startups (including fintech) the past two years.

Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) and Kasikornbank (Kbank) are two local banks which had set up their own fintech-focussed VC firms, followed by Bangkok Bank (BBL) which announced their foray into fintech investment in Startup Thailand 2016 event last week.

According to BBL Senior Executive VP for Commercial Banking Virasak Sutanthavibul, the company’s board approved an initial investment budget of THB2 billion (US$56 million).

He also stated that the company is currently considering to set up a VC business unit.

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Meanwhile, in April, SCB already formed a wholly owned subsidiary Digital Venture Co to manage and operate its own venture capital.

SCB CEO Arthid Nanthawithaya stated that the bank had set aside US$50 million to invest in tech startups locally and overseas.

“Our new investment arm is set to acquire innovative businesses, especially in the fintech sector, to make inroads in the digital arena,” he said.

While global professional services company Accenture reported that fintech investment in Asia Pacific remains dominated by China (45 per cent of investment share in 2015) and India (35 per cent of investment in the same year), generally the number has been increasing dramatically.

In the first three months of 2016 alone, investments increased by 517 per cent compared to same period last year (US$445 million to US$2.7 billion).

With more banks in Thailand looking to invest in fintech, we can expect this number to continue increasing in the coming years.

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