Thai fintech Ascend Money plans SE Asia expansion
Ascend Money Co, a digital financial services venture between Charoen Pokphand Group and Ant Financial, is poised to embark on a $100 million expansion next year into Southeast Asia.
The Bangkok-based firm, which operates payments and online lending platforms, will expand its network of sales agents, boost marketing and potentially make acquisitions in the region, Chief Executive Officer Punnamas Vichitkulwongsa said at a media briefing in Singapore on Wednesday.
“We’ ll grow very aggressively in an organic way and also through acquisitions that fit our road map,” said Punnamas, who has previously worked at Singapore Telecommunications Ltd and Temasek Holdings Pte. He added that Ascend already bought five companies last year.
Ascend Money is seeking to profit from providing financial services to the 420 million people in Southeast Asia that have limited access to banking facilities, according to figures provided by the company. It currently operates in Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam with 20 million customers.
The firm plans to enter Malaysia next year and is aiming to serve 100 million customers by 2020, Punnamas said. The company is aiming to increase tenfold the number of agents in its sales network to 500,000 by next year, he said.
Thai agriculture-to-telecoms conglomerate Charoen Pokphand owns 80 percent of Ascend Money. The rest is owned by Ant Financial, China’s largest provider of internet financial services and an affiliate of billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.