JD.com Fintech Arm Launches Digital Wallet App in Thailand
Chinese internet financial service giants are looking at neighboring Thailand as the next battlefield as they gear up to expand beyond the home market to Southeast Asia.
JD Digits, the fintech affiliate of e-commerce giant JD.com, partnered with Thailand's largest retailer, Central Group, to jointly launch the digital wallet app Dolfin, offering online payment, lending and investment services for Thailand users.
The app is managed by Central JD Fintech, a $500 million joint venture set up in 2017 between Central Group and JD Digits’ predecessor JD Finance. It is the first digital wallet app in Thailand that adopted eKYC — electronic Know-Your-Customer — an efficient online identity verification technology provided by JD Digits, according to the companies.
JD.com followed its major domestic rivals, which have tapped into the Thailand market over the past few years. Online search engine Baidu Inc. in 2016 tested the waters to roll out its payment services in Thailand. The same year, Alibaba Group-backed Ant Financial Services Group bought a 20% stake in Thailand payment service provider Ascend Money and pledged to provide “all dimension” of support to Ascend Money’s goal of expanding its services to half of Thailand’s population within five years.
Late last year, Tencent Holdings said it set up a partnership with Thailand companies to develop a local version of Tencent’s WeChat Pay, the mobile payment service embedded in the popular messaging app WeChat.
Fintech giants are counting on Thailand’s mobile internet prevalence and robust economic momentum for a strong business foothold in Southeast Asia. A report by Ernst & Young projected Thailand to become leading fintech market in the region, given its large number of unbanked people and easy internet access.
Mobile internet covers more than 92% of Thailand’s urban population and 87% of its rural residents. Since 2017, the country’s government has pushed for digital payment development in a bid to promote cashless transactions.
Thailand is also among the top destinations for Chinese tourists, creating huge demand for convenient cross-border payment services from over 10 millions of Chinese visitors every year.
The Dolfin app offers services liked with more than 3,000 shopping malls, supermarkets and grocery stores in Thailand and allows shoppers to make money transfers and payments and to recharge and manage certain membership services. The app also helps online shoppers to facilitate payments on JD Central, an online shopping site developed by JD.com and Central Group.
Dolfin also aims to serve merchants in Thailand by offering big data-based marketing solutions and business operation strategies, according to Central JD Fintech. The app will also offer online credit, wealth management, insurance and other services.
In an interview with media, Rungruang Sukkirdkijpiboon, chief executive of JD Central Fintech, said the platform aims to attract 400,000 users by the end of this year and 1.5 million next year.
Contact reporter Han Wei (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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