Malaysia-headquartered payment company iPay88 is looking to raise as much as $25 million, its co-founder and executive director Chan Kok Long told DealStreetAsia.
It is in talks with a host of risk capital investors – both foreign and local players – from Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, he added.
The proposed corpus will help the company expand its operation in the regional markets namely Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Cambodia.
“A number of funds have shown their interest in us. We are looking into them (their proposal) as we are very keen on exploring strategic partnerships,” said Chan. He expects the fundraising process to be completed by the end of 2019.
This is even as the impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak is looming large on the company that has already witnessed a deceleration of growth.
“Digital business is growing, but when the rest [of the economy] is negative, the adverse impact is tremendous,” said Chan. He attributed the slowdown in growth to the tourism sector that has been one of the worst-hit in COVID-19 outbreak with airlines, wellness chains, hotels and retailers coming under tremendous pressure over the past few months.
Once the new funding is finalized, iPay88 may undertake a restructuring exercise for its foreign payment businesses, said Chan. Going forward, the company may look at an initial public offering, or merger and acquisition but this will be only “three to five years after the conclusion of the upcoming fundraising round,” said Chan.
Ipay88 in Indonesia and Thailand are currently wholly owned by Chan and two other co-founders Lim Kok Heng and Chong Lee Kean.
The three of them together hold over 60 per cent of shares in the payment businesses in Cambodia and the Philippines, with the remaining being held by local partners.
In ipay88 Malaysia, Japanese system integration company NTT Data holds 51 per cent stake that it acquired through its subsidiary NTT Data Asia in 2015.
Even as the COVID-19 outbreak has prompted several entrepreneurs across diverse sectors to pull their purse strings, Chan said it is the right time for ipay88 to carve out its expansion plans.
“We see Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia and Thailand as high growth markets underpinned by the mass population. I think it is time for us to invest more to escalate growth to become the leading payment company in Southeast Asia,” said Chan, signaling how the e-payment industry is growing leaps and bounds in the region.
Chan also noted that the group enjoys an advantage in the region as it has already secured payment gateway licences in most Southeast Asian countries while securing new ones is no longer easy in some markets.