Ascend Money—backed by Charoen Pokphand Group, which is controlled by Thailand’s richest man Dhanin Chearavanont and his family—said Monday it had raised $150 million from new and existing investors, boosting its valuation to $1.5 billion.
In this latest funding round, U.S.-based investment firm Bow Wave Capital Management joined existing investors CP Group and Alibaba Group’s Ant Group, Bangkok-based Ascend Money said in a statement.
“The pandemic’s disruptive effects have accelerated the growth of the digital economy across Southeast Asia,” Itai Lemberger, founder and chief investment officer of Bow Wave Capital Management, said in a statement. “We’re proud to support Ascend Money on their mission-fulfilling journey to drive financial inclusiveness for sustainable growth of the region.”
The company plans to use the fresh funding to grow the user base of its e-wallet app TrueMoney Wallet by expanding into services such as digital lending, digital investment and cross border remittances across Southeast Asia.
“The company is expanding the platform and services to help improve the accessibility, affordability and impact of financial services.” Suphachai Chearavanont, founder and chairman of Ascend Money, said in a statement. “In short, Ascend Money provides a financial platform of opportunity for those financially excluded as well as SMEs around the region.”
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Supachai—the youngest son of Dhanin—is the CEO of CP Group. Dhanin and his three brothers draw their wealth primarily from CP Group, one of the world’s largest producers of animal feed and livestock. Their father Chia Ek Chor and his brother Choncharoen Chiaravanont started the business in 1921 as a shop selling seeds imported from China to Thai farmers. Today, CP Group also owns 7-11 stores across Thailand, holds a controlling interest in mobile operator True Corp and has interests in real estate.
Dhanin, 82, was CP Group’s chairman and CEO for 48 years until he stepped down in 2017. He and siblings had a net worth of $30.2 billion when the list of Thailand’s 50 Richest was published in July.
Supachai founded Ascend Money in 2013 as a business unit of Ascend Group, which is a spinoff from True Corp., one of Thailand’s top telecom operators. Ascend Group operates now as a subsidiary of CP Group.
Ascend Group operates TrueMoney, a digital payments platform that serves more than 50 million users across Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. At the height of the pandemic last year, the firm handled $14 billion of payments.
“Ascend Money is driving cashless society and the adoption of financial services across the region through TrueMoney Wallet application,” Tanyapong Thamavaranukupt, co-president of Ascend Money said in a statement. “The company has also expanded its portfolio to cover a full range of digital financial services including digital lending, digital saving, and digital investment.”