SCB Digital Ventures to splash out $50m

SCB Digital Ventures, the financial technology (fintech) solutions venture arm of Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), expects to splurge US$50 million on initial funding this year.

The company has already invested around $25 million in both fintech mutual funds and venture-capital firms, Thana Thienachariya, chairman of the executive committee of Digital Ventures, said, adding that the $50-million fund has been set for equal investment in fintech mutual funds and venture capital firms.

The company has a policy of acquiring up to a 10% stake in each joint venture firm. It plans to partner with a foreign fintech startup that has expertise in data security after pouring money into two companies.

Currently, Digital Ventures is a strategic investor of Ripple, the US-based financial settlement solution provider. It has also joined hands with local property developer Sansiri to set up a property-technology firm, Siri Venture.

"We will get lower prices for investment in foreign fintech startups than local firms, mainly due to supply and demand. There is greater demand for local fintech investment, but there are no fintech firms that can match the company's requirements," Mr Thana said.

Mr Thana of Digital Ventures says there is demand for local fintech investment.

But Digital Ventures expects to collaborate with five local fintech startups that are involved in the Digital Venture Accelerator project to develop financial solutions. The first round of the accelerator programme will be completed in the next two months, while the next round is expected later.

For fintech mutual fund investment, it has invested in three foreign funds: Golden Gate, Nyca Fund II and Dymon Asia.

In case that the entire $50 million is spent, the bank will back additional funding, he said.

SCB, the country's third largest lender by assets, last year invested 1 billion baht in establishing infrastructure to facilitate change in the digital age. It has allotted another 40 billion baht for IT investment over the next three years.

Thai large and mid-sized commercial banks are keen on investing in fintech to guard their market shares against disruptive technologies.

Meanwhile, Bangkok Bank, the country's biggest bank, has partnered with an international innovation partner, Nest, to create an international fintech macerator programme called Bangkok Bank InnoHub.

Under the programme, the bank will explore and adopt innovative financial solutions and provide local startups the opportunity to expand regionally and internationally.

The programme will also be open to global startups through collaboration with Thai and Asean communities.

Bangkok Bank InnoHub will also allow the bank's new venture capital company, Bualuang Ventures, to explore investment opportunities in innovative financial technology companies.

SCB shares closed Friday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 158 baht, up 1 baht, in trade worth 941.7 million baht. Shares of BBL closed Friday on the SET at 185 baht, up 1 baht, in trade worth 942 million baht.

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