Lightnet rakes in B1bn in Series A

Lightnet rakes in B1bn in Series A

Fintech aims to replace SWIFT

From left  Mr Tridbodi, Mr Chatchaval and chief executive Suvicha Sudchai plan to reorganise the way cross-border money transfers are done.
From left  Mr Tridbodi, Mr Chatchaval and chief executive Suvicha Sudchai plan to reorganise the way cross-border money transfers are done.

The local startup scene began 2020 with a bang as a Thai fintech firm raked in almost 1 billion baht in Series A funding last week.

Lightnet -- the brainchild of Chatchaval Jiaravanon, a member of the family that owns Charoen Pokphand Group, and tech entrepreneur Tridbodi Arunanondcha -- is a cryptocurrency startup based around the Stellar network that aims to reduce the cost and time of cross-border, cross-currency payments.

The company was started in 2018 and expects to have its first transaction completed by the end of January with over 30 e-wallet, money transfer and payment partners. While founder Mr Chatchaval comes from the CP family, Lightnet is a wholly independent startup.

"Startups have to be focused," said Mr Tridbodi, Lightnet's vice-chairman and co-founder. "We are singularly focused on making money transfers better, faster and cheaper."

The US$31.2-million Series A round was led by UOB Venture Management, Seven Bank, Uni-President Asset Holdings, HashKey Capital, Hopeshine Ventures, Signum Capital, Du Capital and Hanwha Investment and Securities.

The company said funds from the latest fundraising will go towards strengthening its underlying blockchain technology on the Stellar network and building a new, cutting-edge financial mobility network.

Lightnet aims to use its technology as a B2B payment gateway that will replace SWIFT money transfers used to move money between international bank accounts. SWIFT payments often take 1-3 days to complete or even longer depending on the countries involved, while Lightnet can be done in real-time. SWIFT transfers can also be expensive as they are converted to US dollars before transferring to the final destination.

Mr Tridbodi said he expects the company to become the top player in remittance payments in Asia in the next three years, handling $50 billion in transactions.

Asia's cross-border remittance market is worth an estimated $150 billion. The technology could be a huge boon to migrant workers in Asia who need to transfer funds frequently across borders.

"People expect their payments with MasterCard or Visa to be instant, so why not their money transfers?" he said.

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