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business

Thai startup Lightnet aims to handle transactions for all of Asia


A Thai fintech startup with an ambitious plan to become a new remittance centre for Asia, Lightnet has managed to raise almost Bt1 billion in fresh capital in partnering with leading regional companies that are key players in the financial sector.

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Lightnet can offer cross-border remittance services with efficiency, speed, low cost and safety through a modern money-transfer system that relies on the reliable blockchain technology, said Chatchaval Jiaravanon, the company’s chairman and co-founder.
He said that, in the beginning, Lightnet would focus on more than 11 million migrant workers in Southeast Asia who must rely on remittance systems that are expensive, outdated and inefficient, or underground banking that is unreliable.
“They have to wait for days for their transactions to be completed,” he said.
This is a big market for Lightnet, a Bangkok-based new player in the field, as Asia’s cross-border remittance market is worth over US$1 trillion. 
Of this, the market size for Southeast Asia alone is $150 billion, according to Chatchaval, who is a member of the family behind the Charoen Pokphand Group.
On its website (www.lightnet.io), Lightnet describes itself as “a remittance provider company” and “the next generation financial network”.
“Lightnet was founded to become a new remittance centre that offers efficient, safe, cheap and speedy services to the four billion people across Asia,” the company’s chairman said.

 Vice chairman and co-founder Tridbodi Arunanondchai, chairman and co-founder Chatchaval Jiaravanon and CEO Suvicha Sudchai, from left.
He added that Lightnet uses the Stellar blockchain technology, which is fast, scalable and sustainable.
“This innovation of decentralised protocol will change the future of online financial world,” Chatchaval said.
Stellar is an open-source, decentralised protocol for digital currency to fiat money transfers which allows cross-border transactions between any pair of currencies.
A press conference was held on Thursday (January 9) to announce the launch of Lightnet and the agreement-signing with its major investors. 
Among the key investors are UOB Venture Management, Japan’s Seven Bank, Uni-President Asset Holdings of Taiwan, Hanwha Investment and Securities of South Korea, Singapore’s Du Capital, Signum Capital and Hopeshine Ventures, and HashKey Capital of Hong Kong.
Chatchaval said $31.2 million (Bt950 million) had been raised during the company’s Series A round of funding. With that cash, Lightnet has become Asia’s first blockchain company to receive financial backing from six large conglomerates to attain its goal of providing access to millions of Asians searching for improved financial mobility.
The fresh funding will go towards strengthening Lightnet’s investment in the underlying blockchain technology and building a next-generation financial mobility network, Lightnet said in a press release. 

Tridbodi Arunanondchai, Lightnet’s vice chairman and another co-founder, said the company aims to make financial transactions of over $50 billion (Bt1.51 trillion) within three years thanks to its strong network of partners.
“It’s vital that we build an ecosystem to provide Lightnet access to our partners’ vast user-bases and facilitate deeper penetration into local markets. We project that within three years, Lightnet will facilitate over $50 billion worth of transactions a year through our industry-leading partner network,” he said.
A tech entrepreneur and former investment banker, Tridbodi said Lightnet’s major investors include powerful players like Seven Bank from Seven & I Holdings, a retail group that owns 69,200 7-Eleven franchises all over the world. 
UOB Venture and Hanwha Investment are influential firms in Singapore and South Korea, respectively, he said.
Lightnet is offering three innovative solutions – BridgeNet, LiquidNet and SmartNet, chief executive Suvicha Sudchai said. The main platform has been completed and the first transaction is slated for the first quarter of this year, he added.
“In addition to the potential 500,000 cash agents across our ecosystem, Lightnet will integrate with several renowned payment and remittance partners such as MoneyGram, Seven Bank, Yeahka and Ksher across Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia to ensure successful activation of our ecosystem,” Suvicha said.

 

Published : January 10, 2020

By : Kittipong Thavevong Special to The Nation