Central Group, one of Thailand’s leading conglomerate involved in merchandising, real estate, and retailing together with JD.com, a massive Chinese e-commerce company headquartered in Beijing, have launched a financial services app called Dolfin.
The venture comes as the Chinese ecommerce giant looks to extend into Southeast Asian markets including Thailand while the Central Group is also seeking to expand its digital presence.
The new service is set to have an e-wallet function, as well as digital lending, insurance, and wealth management offerings, according to JD Central Fintech, a joint venture between JD.com and Central Group. The app will be able to support credit card payments, government e-payment system PromptPay, and e-wallet top-ups and will later also include other features.
The company seeks to attract about 400,000 users by the end of 2019 and roughly 1.5 million by 2020, said JD Central Fintech CEO Rungruang Sukkirdkijpiboon. Siam Commercial Bank, Kasikornbank, and Bangkok Bank have come on board as partners, with the Bank of Ayudhya slated to join later, he added.
A merchant version of the Dolfin app is also scheduled for release in early 2020, which can be used by small businesses and Central Group’s mall tenants.
JD.com and Central Group established their US$500 million joint venture in late 2017, intended to focus on shopping and personal finance. In addition to JD Central Fintech, the partnership also included an ecommerce unit that competes with platforms such as Shopee and Lazada for Thailand’s online shopping market.
Last year, JD.com received US$ 550 million from Google as part of a strategic partnership, where the two companies will develop a range of online shopping solutions for Southeast Asia, the US, and Europe. Despite the fact the global ecommerce markets are growing worldwide, many are skeptical that it will really be profitable in the long run due to excessive among of similar platforms and competition.
A unique feature of the Dolfin app is that it also allows face payment using facial recognition technology.