Thai start-up targets the ‘unbanked’



THAI financial technology start-up Omise has launched a new company called OmiseGO to offer a network that would allow electronic wallets to be interoperable through block chain technology.

According to the company, the wallet payment market is forecast to be US$3.14 billion (Bt107 billion). Meanwhile, the other global applications include more than 2.5 billion (Bt84.8 billion) unbanked people and more than 2.6 billion (Bt88.2 billion) smartphone subscribers.

The potentially high penetration into the untapped market of people without banks, around 70 per cent of the world population, is the key factor driving the launch of OmiseGO. Another factor is the current nature of the wallet system, which does not have interoperability with each other. Block chain technology has the potential to address this, said Donnie Harinsut, chief operations officer and co-founder of Omise.

Established in February 2017, OmiseGO Company will oversee building the network, which will also go by the name of OmiseGO. In addition to the interoperable wallet system, the network will allow businesses to easily exchange value in digital form, including loyalty points, game items, and digital lending.

“OmiseGO is developing the protocol for the financial industry, with block chain technology, to facilitate financial services to be interoperable, which will help expand financial service to reach all people, especially unbanked people,” said Donnie.

It all started from the e-wallet application. Donnie said block chain technology is meant to address the “painpoint” of the wallet industry by removing the big obstacle limiting wallet expansion.

Managing director of OmiseGO Vansa Chatikavanij said the company plans to launch the fully decentralized OmiseGO blockchain towards the end of 2018. Prior to this, the wallet software development kit (SDK) which is the first application to be operating on the OmiseGO will be available to the public in late 2017.

Both existing wallet players and newcomers will be targeted to join the OmiseGO network. The company also offers the white label wallet software development kit (SDK) for any other business desiring their own e-wallet. E-wallets are used in much the same way as cash. Finally, all wallet systems can be interoperable on OmiseGO network, Vansa said.

She believes the beauty of the OmiseGO network is that it will encourage more wallets to come on the market and drive the country forward to a cashless society, while also enabling easier access to financial services for all people, especially those without banks.

The current lack of interoperability between wallet systems has limited their growth as an alternative to cash. With the same functionality and flexibility as cash, a lot more people would adopt the technology, said Donnie.

To secure resources to develop the OmiseGO blockchain, OmiseGO is turning to blockchain-based crowdfunding method. Unlike many public ICOs models which have their own strengths and weaknesses, participants of the OmiseGO crowdfunding can purchase OmiseGO token (OMG) through brokerage firm where they have to sign up for account and get verified first.

The company targets to raise US$25 million equivalent through this crowdfunding method. Part of the objective is to encourage a large community to engage in the network validation and product development.

“We do not want to get more money than we can spend in the next two to three years to get OmiseGO’s network available,” said Vansa.

Omise Company spent more than a year researching and developing the block chain technology. Then it set up a new company, OmiseGO, to run the new business. OmiseGO is a registered company in Singapore and is a subsidiary company of Omise Holdings. Under Omise Holdings, there are six companies: Omise Thailand, Omise Japan, Omise Indonesia, Omise Singapore, Omise Malaysia, and OmiseGO.

“We first set Omise Thailand in Thailand, but last couple years before we raised a series of funding, we moved to register in Singapore,” said Donnie. “We set up Omise Holding and Omise Thailand, as well as other companies to be under the holding. Lately, we set up OmiseGO to explore the new venture with block chain technology.”

Omise Company provides the payment gateway, while OmiseGO provides the protocol network for the digital money service. Donnie sees a synergy in their operations, which would allow people to use an e-wallet system as a source of funding for paying merchants through the payment gateway.

Omise Holding raised series B funding of US$17.5 million in 2016.


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