Siam Commercial Bank Becomes First FI in Thailand to Embrace Blockchain Technology

SBC Digital Ventures, the venture arm of Siam Commercial Bank, has participated in Ripple’s US$55 million Series B funding round, making it the first Thai financial institution to invest in a blockchain company and to express interest in the use of the technology for financial services.

“Siam Commercial Bank is excited to take a pioneering role in investing and piloting money transfers through Ripple’s network,” said Thana Thienachariya, chairman of the executive committee of Digital Ventures, a subsidiary of Siam Commercial Bank.

“Our participation makes SCB the first Thai commercial bank to move forward with remittance and other use cases with blockchain. Our due diligence was conducted by Digital Ventures, the investment and innovation arm of SCB, reaffirming our commitment to cultivating a solid fintech ecosystem for Thailand.”

Siam Commercial Bank joins Japan’s SBI Holdings, Standard Chartered and Accenture Ventures as new investors in Ripple. Other investors that participated in the round included Santander Innoventures, the venture arms of CME Group and Seagate Technology, and Venture 51.

Ripple started expanding to Asia in January this year when it announced a new partnership with SBI Holdings to launch SBI Ripple Asia.

The new company solely focuses on expanding the use of Ripple products and services through sales and engineering efforts for Asian markets, notably Japan, China, South Korea and Taiwan.

According to Yoshitaka Kitao, the president and CEO of SBI Holdings, “distributed financial technology is already beginning to transform the financial system.”

“We’re excited to help Ripple drive even broader adoption of its enterprise solutions in Asia and around the world,” Kitao said.

“Following the recent creation of our joint venture SBI Ripple Asia and in light of incredible customer growth, we are very pleased to increase our investment in Ripple.”

Alongside Ripple, SBI Holdings’ asset management business SBI Investment is also an investor in Kraken, leading the startup’s “multi-million dollar” Series B funding round back in February.

Ripple said it will use the new capital to accelerate customer growth, pursue strategic partnerships and grow the team internationally.

“Our mission is to make cross-border payments truly efficient for banks and their customers, and in doing so, lay the foundation for an Internet of Value where the world moves money as easily as information,” Chris Larsen, CEO and co-founder of Ripple said. “We’re thrilled to have these world-class investors joining forces with us to help make this vision a reality.”

Digitalization is forcing banks to undergo extensive transformation and Standard Chartered’s investment in Ripple demontrates the bank’s commitment to its digitalization agenda, said Alex Manson, the global head of transaction banking of Standard Chartered.

“Ripple is one of the most advanced distributed financial technology companies in the industry with a tested and viable solution,” he said.

“Leveraging Ripple’s deep expertise in technology, financial services and compliance, we can co-develop more use cases to better serve our clients and their ecosystems’ needs in an evolving marketplace.”

But according to Accenture’s group chief executive of financial Services, Richard Lumb, the benefits of blockchain technology could have an impact well beyond banking and financial services. He cited blockchain’s real-time reporting and fraud detection capabilities as features that could significantly impact a number of industries.

In addition to Accenture’s investment, Lumb said the firm has formed an alliance with Ripple to “investigate new ways to help clients use their technology.”

The deal brings Ripple’s total funding raised to over US$93 million. Other investors in Ripple include GV (Google Ventures), Andreessen Horowitz, IDG Capital Partners, and Jerry Yang’s AME Cloud Ventures.

Ripple’s global network currently includes 15 of the top 50 global banks, 10 banks in commercial deal phases, and over 30 banks that have completed pilots.

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