tashka2000 - Fotolia

Thailand’s Ascend Money eyes regional mobile payments market

Ascend Money’s TrueMoney Wallet service will be rolled out in five other Southeast Asian countries that offer growth opportunities, albeit in a highly fragmented market

Bangkok-based mobile payment service provider Ascend Money has expanded its footprint in Southeast Asia in a bid to serve the unbanked and underbanked population in the region.

The company’s TrueMoney Wallet e-payment service will be rolled out in Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia, the Philippines and Vietnam – markets that offer significant growth opportunities given the need for financial inclusion and growing adoption of digital services in those countries.

Punnamas Vichitkulwongsa, CEO of Ascend Money’s parent company Ascend Group, dubbed TrueMoney Wallet as a “super app that crosses through all areas of life for users in Thailand and in the ASEAN region”.

TrueMoney Wallet currently supports bill payments, mobile top-ups, money transfers and online and offline payments. In the future, users will be able to transfer money to friends and family abroad, buy plane tickets, book hotel rooms and pay for food.

Users will also be able to borrow money and make investments in mutual funds, among other financial activities, complete with credit ratings and advance fraud prevention.

Punnamas said the services available through the updated TrueMoney Wallet and those that have been planned will complement each other. The services are being supported by a regional network of 50,000 agents.

Meanwhile, Ascend Money has tied-up with Apple and Alibaba Group’s Ant Financial to enable TrueMoney users in Thailand to pay for purchases in Apple’s App Store, Apple Music and iTunes. Partnerships with 7-Eleven, True Coffee, and other retailers and food chains are expected later this year.

It hopes to grow its TrueMoney user base from four million as of October 2016 to five million by 2017, according to a Bangkok Post report.

Read more about banking in ASEAN

“TrueMoney Wallet is made by Thai people for Thai people and for everyone in the ASEAN region. Every day we are seeking to break the old barriers to financial stability and build economic growth and generate wealth for millions of people,” said Punnamas. 

With TrueMoney, Ascend Money is up against the likes of Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay, Alipay and other telco-led mobile payment services such as Globe’s GCash in the Philippines in a highly fragmented market. WeChat Pay is also expanding its reach in Southeast Asia.

According to analyst company Frost & Sullivan, the penetration of mobile payments across Southeast Asia remains in the low single-digit range.

The Indonesian mobile payments market, for example, is only 3% penetrated with a banking rate of about 36%. The figure is even lower in Vietnam, where there are no key drivers for growth, according to Sapan Agarwal, senior director at Frost & Sullivan Asia-Pacific.

Read more on Financial applications