Thai fin­tech As­cend Money plans SE Asia ex­pan­sion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS | MARKETS - By BLOOMBERG

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.

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