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Asia: Ascend Money becomes first fintech unicorn in Thailand

Ascend Money lands $150 million in funding from US-based Bow Wave Capital Management, Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group, and Ant Group

A noticeable feature of Southeast Asia's tech ecosystem is its growth rate, with many companies hitting billion-dollar valuations in the past few months. In September, regional classifieds marketplace operator Carousell and Indonesian B2B payment gateway provider Xendit attained a billion-dollar valuation after closing funding rounds.

Last year, Asian-based Ascend Money logged $14 billion in payment volume, according to KrAsia. You would not be wrong if you predicted that the startup is not that far from being called a unicorn.

A year later, Ant-backed Ascend is now valued at $1.5 billion after receiving USD 150 million in funding from US-based investment firm Bow Wave Capital Management, Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group, and Ant Group.

Given Ascend's USD 1.5 billion valuation, it is the first and only fintech unicorn in Thailand. The startup plans to use the latest injections to grow its user base across its existing markets, including Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The company will also expand its fintech services, which span lending, mutual fund investments, and cross-border remittances.

Commenting on the latest development, Monsinee Nakapanant, co-president of Ascend Money, said, "As Southeast Asia's homegrown fintech company, our mission is to enable everyone to access innovative financial services to better their lives."

"At the same time, the unicorn achievement reinforces our ability to scale our purpose and mission. Looking ahead, we continue to strengthen collaboration with our stakeholders in the region to improve the lives of many through our platform."

Ascend Money serves over 50 million users through its e-wallet application and 88,000 TrueMoney agents. The fintech service logged payment volume to the tune of USD 14 billion in 2020, with users in Thailand driving most of the transactions per KrAsia.

Thailand in focus

GDP: $501.795 billion in 2020 compared to $544.264 billion in 2019

Population: 69,799,978 in 2020 compared to 69,625,581 in 2019

GDP per capita: $7,189 in 2020 compared to $7,817 in 2019