Lightnet, a Bangkok-based startup using blockchain technology to shake up the Asian remittance market, has raised US$31.2 million in a funding round led by regional heavyweight United Overseas Bank.
United Overseas' UOB Venture Management led the round alongside Seven Bank, Uni-President Asset Holdings, HashKey Capital, Hopeshine Ventures, Signum Capital, Du Capital and Hanwha Investment and Securities.
Lightnet is bidding to take on the trillion dollar remittance market, starting with the millions of unbanked migrant workers currently using what it calls outdated, costly and fragmented services in major Southeast Asian markets.
It wants to replace the "inefficient" Swift network and various underground banking systems with smart contracts and distributed ledgers, connecting existing financial systems with its network of non-bank agents and fiat-transaction network.
The new funding will be used to invest in the underlying blockchain technology on the Stellar Network, and to build a "next-generation financial mobility network".
Suvicha Sudchai, CEO, Lightnet, says: "Lightnet is offering three innovative solutions, BridgeNet, LiquidNet and SmartNet. The main platform has been completed, and the first transaction is slated for Q1 2020.
"In addition to the potential 500,000 cash agents across our ecosystem, Lightnet will integrate with several renowned payment and remittance partners such as MoneyGram, Seven Bank, Yeahka, Ksher across Japan, South Korea, and several other South East Asia nations to ensure successful activation of our ecosystem."