KRUNGSRI Finnovate is planning to spend on seven technology startups this year, five of which are new to its portfolio. These startups focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and Big Data analytics.
“If deals with all seven firms are finalised by the end of this year, an investment of approximately US$50 million [Bt1.5 billion] will be required,” Sam Tanskul, managing director of Krungsri Finnovate, said.
“This year, our goal is to become the best banking corporate venture capital [CVC] firm in Asean, with a focus on AI and data analytic startups,” he said at a press conference yesterday.
So far, a deal has already been sealed with one of the new firms – a Singapore-based start-up called Silot, which develops QR code-payment systems and is developing AI to help banks streamline their operations. Silot has already developed a QR code-payment system for Krungsri Bank, he said, adding that Krungsri Finnovate has invested $2 million in the company so far.
“Between $1 million and $5 million will be invested in each of the five new firms, while investment in startups that are already in Krungsri Finnovate’s portfolio could be worth more than $5 million,” Sam said.
He said Krungsri Finnovate’s investment budget from mid-2017 to date stands at $30 million and if all the deals are finalised this year, he will have to ask the board of directors for more capital.
“We expect negotiations to be finalised by the second quarter, which means investment capital requests will have to be handed in to the board of directors by the third quarter,” Sam added.
Krungsri Finnovate will also hold roadshows in 12 cities this year, including Beijing, Hong Kong, Taipei, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore and Seoul, to seek collaborations with high-potential startups.
“Our priority has always been to focus on Thai start-ups, but now there are fewer high-potential startups here. This is why we are looking in the Asean and Asia-Pacific regions to find potential new tech firms to partner up with,” Sam said after the press conference.
Krungsri Finnovate will, however, continue to empower the Thai start-up ecosystem via its Krungsri Uni Start-up project, he said. This year, it will work with Abac University to launch the “Krungsri Uni Start-up Abac Hackathon”, focusing on deep technology such as AI, blockchain and data analytics.
“Investing in tech-startups is beneficial because they can help banks streamline their operations and in turn, lower their operating costs,” he explained.