Standard Chartered has invested US$500 million in Atome Financial as part of a 10-year multi-product strategic partnership. The partnership will leverage their strengths in finance and technology to deliver a wide range of financial services and product choice for consumers and merchants across key markets in Asia.
According to Standard Chartered, this move marks one of Standard Chartered’s largest strategic investments in a fintech to date, and supports its ambition to expand its reach and scale within the mass market segment via a digital-first approach, underpinned by digital acquisition and new partnership models. Standard Chartered's funding will also allow Atome Financial to grow and connect a wider ecosystem of merchants to a larger customer base, improving product access and financial inclusion for consumers across the region. At the same time, Atome Financial’s customers will gain access to more innovative financial services, easily accessed via their mobile devices.
Atome Financial, a business unit under Advance Intelligence Group, brings experience in consumer finance and a cost-efficient, scalable digital platform. Coupled with Standard Chartered’s footprint and banking expertise, the partnership aims to reach over 16 million customers by 2025 and gain access to multiple financial ecosystems to capture a share of the digital lending market, which is expected to be valued at US$92 billion by 2025 in Southeast Asia alone. The partnership will initially include buy now pay later services, expected to roll out in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam in the next few months, and later expand to include digital lending products. MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to Standard Chartered for additional information.
Judy Hsu, CEO, consumer, private and business banking, Standard Chartered Bank, said that its partnership with Atome Financial gives it the opportunity to be part of the rapidly growing digital consumer finance ecosystem and provides convenient and relevant digital financial products to complement and enrich clients’ digital lives. "Our deep knowledge of Asia’s markets coupled with Atome Financial’s experience in digital consumer finance will allow us to reach even more customers and drive greater financial participation of those underserved and underbanked," she added.
Jefferson Chen, co-founder, group chairman and CEO of Advance Intelligence Group, and CEO of Atome Financial, said that it is excited to have the support and partnership of Standard Chartered in building towards its mission of using technology to help people advance towards a better life. "By providing consumers with easier, simpler, and more convenient access to a full suite of digital-first financial services, we can accelerate broader financial inclusion across both developed and emerging markets in Asia," he added.
Separately, the bank recently reappointed dentsu Internaitonal to handle global media duties covering media planning, buying and strategy, beating out Omnicom Media Group. R3 handled the pitch and the contract is for five years.
Meanwhile, the US$500 million investment comes shortly after travel and leisure booking platform Klook partnered with buy now pay later platform Atome, owned by Atome Financial, to offer an instalment-based payment service for travel, attractions, and leisure experiences across Southeast Asia.
The partnership’s offerings will launch in Singapore, before being rolled out to Hong Kong, Malaysia, and the Philippines in the coming months. In response to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Marcus Yong, VP, global marketing for Klook, said that the partnership will enable its customers even greater payment accessibility, flexibility, and options as they discover and book the experiences at home and overseas.
"We are constantly improving the ways we enhance our customer experience, and new payment methods are no exception. The partnership signals our continued commitment to inspire our customers with more moments of joy, starting with Singapore, as well as Hong Kong, Malaysia, and the Philippines in the coming months," he added.
The partnership will allow Klook users to pay with Atome during checkout on Klook's mobile app and website. To pay, users will have to register and select Atome as the payment option, after which their bills will be split into three zero-interest payments; with no annual fees or servicing fees.
Jonathan Cai, head of partnerships, Atome said that partnering with Klook’s network across the region will introduce millions of users and travel and activities operators to Atome’s flexible, secure and seamless payment experience.
Founded in 2014, Klook provides a seamless way for users to explore popular attractions, tours, local transportation, hotels, and unique experiences at home or around the world. It currently has 280,000 offerings in over 500 destinations and offers over 30 payment methods globally.
In January this year, the travel platform raised US$200 million in a Series E round funding led by Aspex Management, an investment fund focused on the Asia Pacific, in addition to other new investors. Existing investors Sequoia Capital China, Softbank Vision Fund 1, Matrix Partners China, and Boyu Capital also participated in this round of funding. Klook said that it would leverage the funding to accelerate the development and digital transformation for merchants.
Yong said that Klook's efforts in being innovative, experimental, and taking calculated risks since the start of the pandemic have proven successful, and it will continue in its efforts as it captures new opportunities entering 2022. "With higher vaccination rates, the easing of border restrictions, and the rise of Vaccinated Travel Lanes, people across the region are starting to feel a stronger sense of wanderlust than before and will need an outlet. Domestic travel is here to stay and our efforts in deepening our products locally will strengthen our advantage once cross-border travel resumes," he added.
Over the last 12 months, Atome has expanded into other key markets such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and mainland China. It is currently available as a point-of-sale payment checkout option across 5,000 online and offline retailers such as ZALORA, Sephora, Agoda, SHEIN, and Charles & Keith. Last month, the brand launched an in-app loyalty rewards programme in Singapore. Also known as "Atome+", the programme allows shoppers to earn points for purchases made using Atome across online and offline retailers in Singapore.
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