Thailand’s startup media outlet Techsauce published two detailed reports this month; Investor Guide Q1 2017: Thailand Tech Startup Report and its annual Southeast Asia’s Top 75 Fintech Startups Report. What were the key takeaways to know about Thailand’s startup ecosystem and Southeast Asia’s tech investment landscape? We take a look at both reports:
How did Thailand startups do in terms of funding?
Total funding figure in Thailand is getting bigger – no less than $85.2 million as seen in the chart below. The exact number can’t be pinpointed as there were several undisclosed Series B investments.
Notable funding mentions:
- E-book platform Ookbee raised $19 million from Chinese giant Tencent to create a digital content ecosystem in Thailand
- Fintech startup Omise raised $17.5 million led by Japanese firm SBI Investment
- Ecommerce marketplace Orami (now Moxy) raised $15 million from Facebook’s Eduardo Saverin B Capital
- 3 food tech deals were made in 2016. At the beginning of 2017, B2B food supplier platform Freshket has raised an undisclosed six digit funding round
- Corporate Venture Capital was a trend in 2016 that saw numerous corporations shift focus to technology and innovation as both direct investors and limited partners. This trend is expected to continue well into 2017 with the emergence of property tech in Thailand, pioneered by real estate giant Sansiri
In the graph below, you can see that the number of funded startups has shot from 3 to 75 in only four years. The number of active angel investors and the number of VCs have also grown in tandem.
Data from the report also shows that ecommerce still remains the top category for investors and increased steadily on a year-to-year basis. The second category is logistics with funding raised by aCommerce, Giztix and more.
Only two months into 2017, and already eight startups have already raised funding this year.
The diversity of Thai startups attracting investors show that there is more room for verticals such as education tech (edtech) and travel tech.
The report also predicts that by Q2 2017, there should be more funding given to a variety of startups in different sectors and investment opportunities in Thailand’s ecommerce landscape.
Southeast Asia’s top fintech trends
- While core technologies such as blockchain and AI have gotten a lot of publicity, startups that can realistically develop it or utilize it are still limited but extremely attractive to investors
- Each country in this report is making moves to launch regulatory fintech sandboxes to test out financial technology framework – Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.
- Many fintech firms in the region have mandates to work with banks and regulators, which means expanding beyond their domestic market may be a challenge
- The entry of Alibaba’s financial arm, Ant Financial, into the region has caused startups that offer similar services to quickly adapt or risk getting squeezed out
The image above shows that Singapore is well ahead of other countries in terms of number of fintech companies with 31 players, followed by Thailand with 14 players. More doesn’t necessarily mean better, it will be time until one emerges.
With each country taking initiative to become less cash dependent, for example, Thailand government’s PromptPay initiative, this will be a continued trend into Q2 of 2017.
Insurance technology is still a minority but with Thailand’s Asia Insurance introducing online insurance packages and companies such as AXA and FWD offering online insurance in Singapore, the space is growing.
Financial technology in Southeast Asia is still growing and must in a region where only 27% of the population has a bank account. That leaves around 438 million people unbanked and endless opportunities for fintech firms to bridge the gap that traditional financial institutions are struggling to fill.
2017 is already shaping up to be another year of startup growth in Thailand but investors will be more strategic with their money. As fintech matures, it can only nurture the growth of online transactions.