September 14, 2023 at 12:50 GMTModified date: September 14, 2023 at 12:50 GMT
September 14, 2023 at 12:50 GMT

Thailand’s KBank invests in Web3 and AI with $100m fund

Thailand banking giant Kasikorn Bank (KBank) is jumping onto the Web3-artificial intelligence bandwagon with a $100million fund.

Thailand’s KBank invests in Web3 and AI with $100m fund

Thai banking giant Kasikorn Bank (KBank) is jumping onto the Web3-artificial intelligence (AI) bandwagon with a $100million fund. It reigns as the country’s second-largest bank in terms of assets.

The fund, dubbed KXVC (Kasikorn X Venture Capital), was unveiled in a Thursday announcement made by the bank. It has been set up by KBank’s tech arm – Kasikorn Business Technology Group (KBTG). It will be led by KBTG’s group chairman, Krating Poonpol, and KXVC’s managing director, Jom Vimolnoht.

The fund has the approval from the Bank of Thailand, which is the country’s central bank. It will fall under the guidance of another KBank subsidiary KX, which is a venture capital (VC). KBank currently operates in Thailand, China and Vietnam and has much prominence in South East Asia. It is known for providing digital services.

The fund hopes to become a regional gateway to help global founders in the space to create financial innovations in the APAC region, noted the entity. Vimolnoht commented on the launch saying: “Resonating with the previous Tech-Disruption waves, AI, Web3, and Deep Tech, demand real market adoption, and APAC has much to offer.”

Created out of KBank’s investment budget, KXVC will seek to serve traditional financial stakeholders in the consumer, corporate and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). There will be a special focus on consumer and problem-specific AI, cybersecurity, nodes validators, ZKP, wallets and consumerisation of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

It is not the first time for KBTG in this space as it had already been operating Kasikorn X (KX), a venture builder in the Web3 and AI spaces. Its startups include NFT platform Coral and crypto portfolio tracker Bigfin. KX, on the other hand, has also collaborated with various crypto funds, including 1KX, Hashkey Capital and Symbolic Capital.

As per reports, KXVC now aims to continue with the KX investment activities. It is also targeting to invest in over 30 startups and funds globally. Regions of focus here include the US, European Union, Israel and Asia-Pacific.

However, KXVC would have to weather the storm which had started since the downturn in the cryptocurrency market. It has been a challenging landscape for crypto venture capitals since then. As reported by The Block Research this year, investment in crypto startups has declined for five consecutive quarters and is expected to continue falling in the current quarter.

The month of August saw the lowest point in over two years in the flow of venture capital into crypto and Web3 start-ups. Even in the wider scene, venture funding levels have fallen dramatically in 2023 as per a Crunchbase report that was published in April. It found that total VC investment in the first quarter of the year came in at $76bn. This was dramatically down from $162bn in the same period of 2022.

According to Tom Schmidt who is the managing partner at crypto VC firm Dragonfly: “VCs are being more judicious and slower in deployment and trying to pick up the few good companies that are rising to the top — many companies that raised massive amounts at crazy valuations that they haven’t grown into aren’t fundable in 2023 without totally reworking the cap table or adding so much structure to the round that it simply isn’t worth it. Pre-seed and seed still seems to be healthy, but that’s a relatively small segment of the market.”