Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company snaps up ecommerce startup Paywhere for $5m

The Philippine Long Distance and Telephone Company (PLDT) has acquired the Singapore-based ecommerce startup Paywhere Pte Ltd for $5 million.

The acquisition is in line with PLDT Group’s goal to build its digital innovations unit, Voyager Innovations Inc, into a competitive digital economy platforms enabler.

“The acquisition is expected to be completed within the third quarter of 2015, subject to the fulfillment of certain closing conditions,” PLDT said in a statement. “Of the $5 million consideration, $3 million will be paid upfront at completion date while the balance of $2 million will be payable to certain of the vendors as deferred consideration.”

Voyager was established in 2013 as a wholly owned subsidiary of PLDT’s mobile carrier Smart Communications.

Paywhere was founded in 2010 by its CEO Dickson Gregory along with its chief operating officer Damian Chow, and chief technology officer Vincent Lau.

Paywhere will retain its headquarters at Blk 71, which is part of LaunchPad, the envisioned “Silicon Valley” of Singapore.

Also read: PLDT to invest $100m in Big Data services

The agreement was entered into by Voyager through online store creator Takatack Pte Ltd for the purchase of the issued share capital of Paywhere for a total cash consideration of $5 million.

Paywhere powers TackThis!, a cloud-based e-commerce platform that operates on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. “We want to reduce the complexities, the technological barriers, and the cost to deliver that comes with bringing a store online. With this acquisition of Paywhere, we are establishing a stronger foothold in existing markets as well as taking the opportunity to expand to new ones,” said Voyager Innovations president and CEO Orlando Vea.

Also read: Rocket, PLDT form internet JV firm

Meanwhile, Gregory said that by joining the Voyager’s team, Paywhere has more opportunities to on board merchants onto the TackThis! platform.

“I look forward to seeing TackThis! scale internationally, much in the same way we’ve seen the platform help entrepreneurs grow their businesses,” Gregory said.

According to Vea, as more and more people are going online with increasing Internet penetration, going into digital commerce is imperative for businesses, especially among small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Also read: PLDT, Rocket form JV for mobile-first payment services

Vea noted in emerging markets, only 1 per cent to 5 per cent of SMEs have websites, and only a fraction of those would have transactional online stores. In the Philippines, there are one million registered SMEs, with only 1 per cent of them having websites.

“Having an online store for businesses is not just about presence, it’s about empowerment,” Vea said.

Voyager has been working with Paywhere in marketing TackThis! in the Philippines since 2014.

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Last Thursday, Voyager has launched its premium concierge service for TackThis! , targeting over a thousand partner businesses so they can quickly build their own branded digital commerce footprint that incorporates a seamless social shopping experience for customers.

TackThis! is complemented by Takatack, which serves as an online shopping discovery platform for various products, including those posted using TackThis!

PLDT announced last May of its plans to invest around $100 million in its Big Data business, meant to help companies and government agencies to develop more effective products, services, and programs for their target markets.

PLDT’s last trading price increased 1.26 per cent or P34.00 to close at P2,738.

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PLDT invests $22.5m in new data center