Indonesia’s Gojek is understood to have acquired a majority stake in Vietnam-based payments startup WePay Payment Services Co Ltd to secure the licence it needs to operate an e-wallet in the country.
WePay offers payment services that support transactions through bank cards, credit cards, its own e-wallet and SMS. It claims to have partnered with four international card issuers, 24 local banks and over 1,000 merchants for its e-wallet services.
Three people familiar with the matter told DealStreetAsia that Gojek Vietnam, the local unit of Indonesian super app Gojek, has completed the purchase of a licensed Vietnamese e-payment company. We were able to verify that the company is Hanoi-based WePay, which bagged an e-wallet licence from the State Bank of Vietnam in 2017.
Following the acquisition by Gojek, WePay has shifted its headquarters from Hanoi’s Thanh Xuan District to a building in Cau Giay District where the Gojek office is located.
Pablo Malay, the Singapore-based group general counsel at Gojek, has been named the chairman of WePay, while Gojek Vietnam general manager Phung Tuan Duc has been appointed its CEO, according to a document dated 19 August 2020 filed with the country’s National Business Registration System (NBRS).
According to a business registration document, Duc invested 50 billion dong ($2.2 million) in WePay on 4 August 2020. The total amount invested by Gojek in the payment company could not be ascertained.
The document mentions VCCorp, the local internet firm which set up WePay in 2016, as the payment firm’s “former business owner.” A separate document shows WePay’s owner is Viet Lotus International, a joint-stock company established in 2018.
Malay and Duc are listed as top executives at Viet Lotus, which is 49 per cent owned by a foreign entity called Velox Southeast Asia Holdings, according to company registration documents seen by DealStreetAsia. The names of its local shareholders were not disclosed.
Gojek had not responded to DealStreetAsia’s query at the time of publishing, while a VCCorp representative, speaking on the phone, said she needed to check internally before responding.
Gojek Vietnam, formerly known as GoViet, is a late entrant to the e-wallet market in Vietnam. Its arch-rival Grab has been providing payment services in the market since 2018 through a strategic partnership with e-wallet Moca.
The country has had 37 licensed digital payment companies to date, including four new ones this year. Of the total, about 15 companies are backed by overseas investors. The largest funded businesses include VNPAY, MoMo and eMonkey.
Ride-hailing app beGroup has partnered with VPBank to offer financial services. The lender’s shareholders are understood to be investors in the startup. Meanwhile, Singapore-headquartered and NYSE-listed Sea Ltd operates the Airpay e-wallet in the country.
According to research by local firm Cimigo published in March 2020, the three most frequently used e-wallets in the country were MoMo, Moca, and ZaloPay.
While MoMo and ZaloPay were mostly used for mobile top-ups and money transfer, GrabPay by Moca is predominantly used for ride-hailing payments.
Vietnam’s digital payment market is projected to be worth $8 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 16.4 per cent to touch $14.86 billion by 2024, according to Statista.com.
Only 30 per cent of the country’s population was banked in 2018, per data by the World Bank. The State Bank of Vietnam estimates that 45 per cent of the population had access to banking services in 2019.
Gojek is understood to have been working towards securing a payment licence in Vietnam for almost two years. The company currently provides bike-hailing, food delivery and parcel delivery services in the country.
Gojek had earlier acquired Coins.ph mobile wallet in the Philippines. It has also boosted its fintech capabilities through acquisitions and investments in Indonesia such as in Moka, Kartuku, Midtrans, Mapan, PonselPay (formerly MVCommerce) and Pluang.
GoPay, the financial services arm of Gojek, has reached the unicorn status on its own, DealStreetAsia exclusively reported in July.