Lightnet, a Bangkok-based fintech company, has raised US$31.2 million in its latest “Series A” financing round led by UOB Venture Management, Seven Bank, Uni-President Asset Holdings, HashKey Capital, Hopeshine Ventures, Signum Capital, Du Capital and Hanwha Investment and Securities.
The firm is taking over the worldwide remittance market, that consider Southeast Asia . It’s a market which is dominated by many unbanked migrant workers that send a refund home to their families yet need to affect the high fees and slow service provided by the decades-old SWIFT system and fragmented correspondent banking network. The high cost of this network has forced many to pursue underground payment routes which are risky and unreliable. Remittance could even be an outsized market within the region consistent with Lightnet, with these services valued at $150 billion a year.
What is notable about Lightnet is that it’s backed by six large conglomerates in Asia which between them gives the startup access to an enormous network of banks and shops within the region which may act as access points for patrons to send and receive cash.
“We launched Lightnet to provide low-cost and instantaneous financial inclusivity and mobility to the four billion lives across Asia Pacific – all powered by Stellar’s fast, scalable, and sustainable blockchain technology”
Chatchaval Jiaravanon – Chairman of Lightnet
That the Lightnet team has chosen the Stellar network because the payment rail signals a vote of confidence for both blockchain as a replacement for existing payment networks, also as Stellar’s ability to support the movement of cash during a spread of currencies efficiently across borders at a fraction of the price and time that it takes today with traditional payment networks.
Lightnet has partnered with Interstellar which is that the commercialization arm of the Stellar Development Foundation, the non-profit that supports the event and growth of the open-source Stellar network. Interstellar was formed by the merging of blockchain platform Chain and thus the for-profit branch of the Stellar Development Foundation, called Lightyear in 2018.
With Interstellar, Lightnet features a partner that not only understands the Stellar platform but also features a deep acumen within the payments space. Interstellar’s CEO Mike Kennedy, who took over from previous CEO Adam Ludwin in September last year, previously founded Zelle – the U.S. digital payments network backed by Wells Fargo and type of other U.S. financial institutions which processes over $75bn in transactions on an annual basis.
From the roster of investors, it appears likely that shops will play a big role for the payment network by providing access points for patrons to send and receive cash. as an example , Seven Bank, an area of Seven & I Holdings Co. Ltd, owns all the 7-Eleven stores in Japan and approximately 69,200 convenience stores globally. Uni-President Asset Holdings is that the investment arm of Uni-President Enterprises Corp., which also owns over 9,000 7-Eleven and Starbucks across Taiwan, China and thus the Philippines. Financial and remittance institutions also are strongly represented as investors and partners and are likely to also play a consistent role.
Kennedy, sees parallels with Zelle because it’s was through these sorts of partnerships with institutions with large customer bases that the U.S. payment network was ready to scale.
“The best due to scale is to partner with the sole , most reputable companies that have many endpoints”
Mike Kennedy – CEO of Interstellar
To move money internationally via the network, customers will deposit money at a 1 of these endpoints, whether it is a bank, existing money transfer business or a store. The transaction is routed to a liquidity provider on the network that gives the foremost competitive currency conversion quote, with the 2 access points within the network then settling their leg of the transaction thereupon liquidity provider.
Mike Kennedy – CEO Of Interstellar © 2015 NIALL DAVID
While funds do need to be transferred behind the scenes to settle up between the access points and liquidity provider during a typical way (nostro/vostro book entry accounting or ACH), Kennedy sees that eventually when the network gets large enough, participants will start to work out the advantage of settlement netting which could significantly reduce the particular movement of cash that’s required behind the scenes.
Stellar Network – Designed For Payments
Bringing low cost remittances to the underbanked are some things that hits the core of Stellar’s philosophy which was built round the notion of monetary inclusion.
“Lightnet helps create the planet we imagined once we started Stellar, a world of greater financial inclusion and interoperability. The products they’ve built on Stellar are a testament to the way we’ll redefine domestic and international payments during a decentralized global marketplace”
Jed McCaleb – Founder and Chief Architect of the Stellar Development Foundation.
In addition to a shared ethos, Kennedy points to kind of other differentiators of the Stellar network which makes it, in his view, uniquely suitable candidate to work as a payments and remittance network — “the Stellar network is meant for payments which suggests it’s low cost and scalable. It allows you to undertake to to multi-currency and multi-coin natively.”
As to whether Stellar’s native token, the “Lumen” (XLM) are becoming to be used because the means of moving funds between parties, Kennedy states that it’s an option but it is not necessary to use it because the transaction are often crypto-agnostic. Kennedy also cites Stellar’s ability to support stablecoins as a mechanism to urge obviate price fluctuations and volatility during transactions.
Gearing Up For Deployment – Lightnet Chief officer
Typically Series A rounds are used for funding the build of technology and establishing partners. However, with Lightnet they seem to be before the curve having already built the platform and secured their partner base. Instead, the proceeds from the foremost recent fundraising will go towards strengthening Lightnet’s investment within the underlying blockchain technology on the Stellar Network, and to make a next-generation financial mobility network.
“Lightnet is offering three innovative solutions, BridgeNet, LiquidNet and SmartNet. the foremost platform has been completed, and thus the primary transaction is slated for Q1 2020. additionally to the potential 500,000 cash agents across our ecosystem, Lightnet will integrate with several renowned payment and remittance partners like Seven Bank, Yeahka, Ksher across Japan, South Korea , and variety of other other South East Asia nations to form sure successful activation of our ecosystem,”
according to Lightnet Chief officer , Suvicha Sudchai.
From then, consistent with Tridbodi Arunanondchai, Lightnet’s vice-chairman, the corporate expects usage to grow quickly.
“We project that within three years, Lightnet will facilitate over $50 billion worth of annual transactions through our industry-leading partner network”
Tridbodi Arunanondchai – Lightnet Vice-Chairman
Quoted during a recent publication, Arunanondchai, sees undeniable fact that the consumers within the region are underbanked and believe cash because the key driver for the expected fast adoption of Lightnet. the utmost amount as 70% of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) population use cash or underground banking for financial transactions, and “SWIFT would never be ready to touch them.”
It’s Good For Blockchain
Reflecting on Lightnet’s announcement, Kennedy sees it as not just a win for Lightnet and thus the Stellar network but as a breakthrough for the blockchain industry as a whole . The initiative demonstrates large multinational companies moving onto the blockchain to conduct world real transactions.
“There’s been plenty of hype around buying and selling crypto-currencies, but this is often often about showing a real use case, with reputable companies for world transactions,” says Kennedy.
There’s a popular saying in emerging technology that reflects the natural risk aversion that the bulk companies have when trying something new – “everyone wants to be first to be second”. With Lighnet having cleared the trail , we may even see the rest of the payments industry following behind.
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