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CHAI Seoul-based payment tech startup gets $60 million in Series B funding

Contact-free payments and e-commerce demand increased in South Korea during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is great news for payment service providers, but the market is really fragmented, so including payment options is a cumbersome procedure for many merchants. CHAI wants to repair it through an API that allows companies to accept over 20 payment techniques.

The Seoul-based startup announced today that it has raised $60 million in Series B. The cycle was led by Hanhwa Investment & Securities, involving SoftBank Ventures Asia (the early-stage venture capital subsidiary of SoftBank Group), SK Networks, Aarden Partners and other strategic partners. This brings the total funding for CHAI to $75 million, including a series A of $15 million in February.

Last month, the Bank of Korea, South Korea's central bank, released a report stating that contactless payments increased 17% year-over-year due to the onset of COVID-19. CHAI serves e-commerce businesses with an API known as I’mport, which allows them to accept payments from over twenty options, including debit and debit cards via neighbourhood payment gateways, digital wallets, cable shipments and PayPal. It is currently used by a total of 2,200 retailers, including Nike Korea and Philip Morris Korea.

The company also uses its own digital wallet and debit card called CHAI Card, which was launched in June 2019 and now has 2.5 million users, a small figure compared to South Korea's top digital wallets, which consist of Samsung Pay, Naver Pay, Kakao Pay and Toss.

CHAI's Chief Executive Officer, Daniel Shin, said companies should generally integrate each type of on-line payment separately, So I'mport saves its customers a great deal of time. “We’ve digitized the plastic card expertise, and this is step one in the direction of creating a strong on-line rewards platform,” Shin added.