SoftBank, GIC complete investment in VNPAY’s parent firm VNLIFE

VNLIFE, the parent company of Vietnamese payments firm VNPAY, has bagged funding from SoftBank Vision Fund and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, its chairman confirmed on Thursday.

Earlier this week, DealStreetAsia had reported that the Vision Fund had committed to invest up to $200 million in VNPAY, while GIC had proposed a $100-million investment.

Tran Tri Manh, chairman of both VNLIFE and VNPAY, told local news site CafeF that VNLIFE has closed the investment from the two investors. He declined to comment on the quantum of funding received.

VNLIFE counts as the maiden investment in Vietnam by Japanese magnate Masayoshi Son’s Vision Fund.

Meanwhile, a business registration document shows that Ardolis Investment Pte Ltd, a unit of the Singapore sovereign fund, currently holds a 15.7 per cent stake in VNLIFE.

We have reached out to both the chairman and a company spokesperson for comment. Emails sent to GIC had not elicited a response at the time of publishing, while SoftBank declined to comment.

VNPAY is a pioneer in QR code payments in Vietnam. It also operates an e-wallet, bill and ticket payment services as well as other payment portals.

The company was co-founded by Mai Thanh Binh, who earlier co-founded Garena Vietnam (the Vietnamese unit of Sea Ltd). He also established venture capital firm Teko Ventures, which has invested in around 10 startups, including VNPAY.

VNLIFE was established in November 2018 as a holding company for VNPAY and several other units catering to tourism, logistics, commerce and enterprise management, the CafeF report quoted Manh as saying.

Investors are evincing growing interest in the Vietnam market. Last month, SoftBank Vision Fund participated in the Vietnam Venture Summit, an event to promote investment opportunities from the Vietnam tech sector co-hosted by the local government and Singapore-based Golden Gate Ventures.

GIC has been investing mainly in traditional sectors in Vietnam such as aviation, banking and consumer goods. Its portfolio in the country includes FPT and VNG Corporation.