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SoftBank Ventures Asia backs CHAI in $60 million Series B round

By Edil Corneille

December 14, 2020

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Chai, SoftbankToday, South Korean payment technology company CHAI announced a $60 million Series B financing round led by Korean conglomerate Hanwha Investment & Securities, with participation from SoftBank Ventures Asia, SK Networks, Aarden Partners, Hashed and other strategic partners. The round follows the $15 million Series A that transpired in February 2020, making the total investment in CHAI to $75 million.

The investment sets CHAI up to meet the rising demand for businesses to move online. CHAI is said to offer an easy and efficient way for online businesses to start accepting payments through its B2B service I’mport which tackles the fragmented payments market by providing a single, unified API that enables e-commerce businesses to choose from a comprehensive set of over 20 different payment options, ranging from credit cards, digital wallets and wire transfers. I’mport currently serves over 2,200 merchants including global brands such as Nike Korea and Philip Morris Korea.

CHAI also operates an e-wallet and debit card business which has gained 2.5 million users since launching in June 2019. Most recently, CHAI launched a gamified rewards platform for the CHAI Card, where users earn ‘bolts’ to unlock instant cashback at popular brands. By adding game-like features and social elements, CHAI has digitised the plastic card experience, driving traffic to its platform while keeping the convenience of a plastic card consumers have become accustomed to.

“As Asia’s digital payments market becomes more fragmented and sales-driven, we believe that a technology-first approach will be key to winning the market. That’s why we’ve created developer-centric and scalable solutions for businesses to streamline payments,” said Daniel Shin, CEO of CHAI. “We also designed an online rewards platform for the CHAI card, creating a more vibrant customer experience that goes beyond the convenience of a plastic card. We are excited to continue to drive innovation with support from experienced investors such as Hanwha and SoftBank Ventures Asia.”

SeungYoung Oh, Director from Hanwha Investment & Securities shared, “I’mport has reduced what once took e-commerce businesses weeks to complete into a simple copy-and-paste task, radically reducing costs. It’s a first-of-its-kind business model in Korea, and I have no doubt that CHAI will continue to grow this service into an essential infrastructure of the global fintech landscape.”

SoftBank Ventures Asia’s CEO and Managing Partner JP Lee added, “We’ve been watching CHAI’s tremendous growth and strong leadership in this market from the beginning. As more and more attention is drawn to the FinTech-as-a-service market, we have no doubt that CHAI will make a significant mark in Asia and beyond. We are excited to support CHAI as they start to scale across different new markets.”

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