JD.com, Thai retail giant Central Group launch financial services app in Thailand

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China’s second-largest online retailer JD.com along with Thai mall operator Central Group launched a new financial services app called “Dolfin” on Monday, Reuters reported, as China’s internet giants ramp up expansion into foreign markets to offset slowing domestic growth.

The app includes an e-wallet function, as well as digital lending, insurance, and wealth management features.

Why it matters: JD.com is providing the financial technology as it seeks to expand into Southeast Asian markets, while Central Group is looking to boost its digital presence.

Details: The platform aims to attract 400,000 users by the end of this year and 1.5 million next year, Rungruang Sukkirdkijpiboon, chief executive of JD Central Fintech, said in an interview.

  • Siam Commercial Bank Pcl, Kasikornbank Pcl, and Bangkok Bank Pcl are also involved in Dolfin, said Rungruang, and Bank of Ayudhya will join later on. Dolfin will help banks tailor insurance and mutual fund products for its customers, he added.
  • Dolfin is able to process credit card payments, the government’s e-payment system, P2P payments application PromptPay, and also top up its e-wallet.
  • JD Central Fintech is part of Central Group’s joint venture with JD.com in Thailand. It has an e-commerce unit that competes with platforms including Singapore-based shopping site Shopee and Alibaba’s Lazada, both of which also have e-wallets.

What to expect: A merchant version of the app will be introduced next year for small businesses and Cental’s mall tenants, according to Rungruang. Merchant data collected from the app can be used to support bank loans.

  • In January when Dolfin was first revealed, Nikkei Asian Review reported that Dolfin would introduce facial-recognition features for authentication by the end of the year.

Context: Southeast Asia’s burgeoning fintech market is attracting Chinese fintech services providers like Ping An and Ant Financial. China’s influence is increasingly pronounced in the region with many Chinese-funded fintech startups emerging.

  • JD.com and Central Group signed a $500 million deal in 2017 to set up a joint venture in Thailand.
  • Last December, the Chinese retail giant signed a cooperation agreement with the Thai government to boost cross-border trade.
  • Central Group is planning to list its retail unit by the end of the year.