Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC has led an investment in Vietnam-based payments firm VNPAY, according to three people familiar with the development.
The investment is upwards of $50 million, two of the executives told DEALSTREETASIA.
When contacted, VNPAY’s deputy CEO declined to comment. GIC did not respond to a request for comment.
Financial services firm UBS is learnt to have been the adviser for the transaction. A query sent to UBS had not elicited a response at the time of publishing.
Founded in 2007, VNPAY claims to have provided payment services to over 40 banks, five telcos and over 20,000 merchants in Vietnam. In addition to a mobile banking app, VNPAY has developed a QR code-based service, an e-wallet called VnMart as well as other services that allow bill payments, e-tickets and mobile marketing.
The Hanoi-based company, one of the top 50 IT businesses in Vietnam, is one of the major players in the QR payment area. Other players include Warburg Pincus-backed MoMo, VNG’s ZaloPay and Payoo (acquired by NTT Data).
The financing for VNPAY is GIC’s first investment in a Vietnamese fintech company. The world’s seventh largest sovereign fund is an existing investor in VNG and FPT. Its non-tech portfolio in Vietnam includes VinHomes, Vietjet, Techcombank and Masan Group, among others.
GIC has extensive exposure to the fintech space with investments in the US, Europe and Asia. It has backed fintech unicorns such as Square, Germany’s N26, South Korea’s Viva Republica and Ant Financial.
Competing for wallet share in Southeast Asia
VNPAY’s fundraising comes on the heels of a recent financing for rival MoMo by Warburg Pincus. We have previously reported that MoMo is likely to have raised around $100 million in one of the biggest financing rounds for a Vietnamese tech firm.
Last year, fintech was the most funded sector in Vietnam that received $117 million in capital across eight deals, per a report by the Topica Founder Institute. Payments firms are actively targeting the opportunity presented by the country’s growing mobile subscriber base, of which 40 per cent of users are online shoppers, according to the Vietnam E-Commerce Association.
In Southeast Asia, ride-hailing majors Grab and GOJEK are sharpening their focus on financial services, including fintech. Grab bought Kudo for around $100 million while GOJEK purchased Coins.ph in a deal that is estimated to have been worth $72 million.
These ride-hailing unicorns are backed by a massive war chest. Grab has announced it will raise an additional $2 billion in funding this year after raising over $4.5 billion in an ongoing Series H round. We have previously reported that its financial services arm is seeking to raise capital from investors including Ant Financial. Rival GOJEK recently made the first close of its ongoing Series F round at over $1 billion.
While Grab and GOJEK have the advantage of being deep-pocketed “super apps”, the fintech market in Southeast Asia is still largely fragmented. In each country, there are local contenders that have bagged significant funding such as Akulaku and KinerjaPay in Indonesia and MoMo in Vietnam.