Bangkok Bank Names Blockchain Startup For Global Fintech Accelerator
Ethereum-based digital cash startup attracts interest from one of Thailand and Southeast Asia's largest banks.
Bangkok Bank has chosen Everex, an Ethereum-based startup out of Singapore, to be one of eight startups participating in its upcoming fintech accelerator. The “cash transfer system” startup will have the opportunity to be heard by potential investors including Bangkok Bank and its subsidiary, Bualuang Ventures, and global venture capital fund and accelerator, Nest. Startups from 32 countries applied for the program.
The “Bluefin” businesses will work with Bangkok Bank InnoHub and Nest over the course of a 12-week program. The very best startups taking part in the accelerator will present business plans to Thai and international investors at Demo Day 2017 in September.
One of Thailand and Southeast Asia’s largest commercial banks, Bangkok Bank will arrange “dedicated mentorship” from financial experts at Bangkok Bank, Bualuang Ventures and Nest. The process is designed to allow startups to secure a proof of-concept (POC) with the bank and pitch it. A dedicated professional is assigned to each startup.
Bangkok Bank states on its website it has a particular interest in eKYC, which it describes as “bringing efficiency to the customer onboarding process.” The bank also has its eye on using AI for wealth management and financial advisory, as well as retail and business solutions for payments.
Bangkok Bank president Chartsiri Sophonpanich said the bank is dedicated to fintech start-ups, seeing them as the engines powering Thailand’s financial services sector and economy. “InnoHub reinforces Bangkok Bank’s status as a leading regional commercial bank, attracting applicants from Europe, the US, Australia and wider Asia,” he said.
Lawrence Morgan, Chief Executive Officer at Nest, called InnoHub “different from other Thai start-up programmes that are open only to local entrepreneurs” because it “draws on world-class innovation and expertise, including dedicated mentors from among Thai and international financial experts, to help shape the start-ups’ strategies and guide emerging entrepreneurs towards their business goals.”
Bangkok Bank Vice President Dr. Panukorn Chantaraprapab describes the eight startups in a bank press release, making an analogy to fish - hence the ‘Bluefin’ reference. “In today’s business, it is not the big that eats the small fish, but rather the fast fish that eats the slow fish,” said Mr. Chantaraprapab. “Bangkok Bank InnoHub needs to discover the ‘Bluefins’, the super-fish that are courageous, persistent and agile. We have succeeded in identifying eight start-ups with great potential for fast growth.”
Startups selected include Bambu, a B2B robo-advisory firm; Bento, a provider of institutional portfolio construction tools; Canopy, a financial data aggregation tool; COVR, a mobile security platform; First Circle, the first digital SME lender in SE Asia; FundRadars, a mutual fund analytics and trading platform; and Invoice Interchange, an invoice-trading marketplace.
“Not only is Everex the only blockchain company among the other startups, but this is also the first time a Thai bank accepted foreign startups into its incubator,” Everex CEO and founder Alexi Lane told Buzzfeed Community.
Established in 1944, Bangkok Bank enjoys an extensive distribution channel network to serve a variety of customers. It offers physical branches, business centers, digital banking such as internet banking, mobile banking, phone banking, 9,300 ATMS, 1,200 CDMs and other self-service machines. These services could be a boon to Everex’s suite of products.
The blockchain-focused startup’s cash transfer system is designed to digitize fiat currencies with Ethereum’s smart contracting technology. Using machine learning, and the system’s native digital token EVX (which the public can buy in a token sale), the Singapore-based team has developed a way for individuals to establish public credit and become eligible for loans.
At the heart of what Everex does is Cryptocash, a distributed cash transfer system. “Cryptocash is a cryptocurrency, where each unit has its value pegged to, and a name based on, the fiat currency it represents, e.g., US Dollar (USDEX),” reads the company’s white paper. “Cryptocash balances are provably underwritten by balances held in accounts of financial entities, or other trusted third-party cash custodians.”
The document adds: “Users convert their paper or digital fiat-currencies to Cryptocash at their local bank branch, or at currency exchanges and transfer them via a blockchain peer-to-peer (P2P), using wallets kept on mobile phones, or online browsers. We focus on solving the financial inclusion problem by applying blockchain technology for cross-border remittances, online payments, currency exchange and micro lending using Cryptocash, without the volatility issues of existing, non-stablecoin cryptocurrencies.”