This story has been updated to include quotes from company executives.
Samo Holding, the company behind financial comparison platform TheBank.vn, has raised $5 million in a Series A funding round from UOB Venture Management (UOBVM), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore-based United Overseas Bank Limited (UOB), DealStreetAsia has learnt.
The latest round comes two years after the company raised an undisclosed sum in a pre-Series A investment from CyberAgent Capital (formerly CyberAgent Ventures) and Korean investment firm NCore Ventures.
To date, Samo has raised a total of $5.81 million in funding rounds. The new funding round brings the company’s valuation to $25 million, according to filings accessed by DealStreetAsia’s DATA VANTAGE.
Founded in 2014 by Nguyen Thanh Dat, TheBank.vn is a marketplace that compares credit cards, loans, savings and insurance to provide free financial advice to consumers. Its strategic partners include StanChart, HSBC, ANZ, Shinhanbank, VPB, EVN finance, TPB finance and insurance companies such as Prudential, Manulife, Chubblife, Liberty.
“Thanks to our strategic cooperation with UOBVM, SAMO has been able to develop advanced technology that enables users to access financial services, investments and insurance products through the platform much more easily,” said Nguyen Thanh Dat.
UOB and its units have been very active in the Vietnam market. To date, UOB has supported more than $2 billion (S$3 billion) in investments into Vietnam, according to the bank’s website.
UOBVM has assets under management in excess of S$2 billion. Its investment in SAMO was made via its ASEAN China Investment Fund V, which focuses on supporting growth-oriented companies in Greater China and Southeast Asia.
Seah Kian Wee, CEO of UOBVM, said, “Digital insurance is a fast-growing market in Vietnam. With its extensive agent base and smart technology platform, SAMO is in a strong position to meet consumers’ increased demand for insurance products for their protection and wealth management needs.”
In 2019, UOB Asset Management (UOBAM) acquired a 24.5% stake in VAM Vietnam Fund Management. Earlier, UOBVM partnered with financial services group Orix Corporation to invest $25 million each in one of Vietnam’s largest privately-owned hydropower companies, Bitexco Power Corporation (Bitexco Power).
The investment firm has also backed Vietnam’s FMCG major Masan Consumer and privately-owned media company DatVietVAC.
In August, UOBVM secured the first close of its latest vehicle that will invest in businesses in Southeast Asia and China. UOBVM seeks to raise $500 million for the latest fund, larger than its predecessor fund, which raised $300 million in 2019.
As of December 2020, UOBVM manages $1.4 billion of assets. Apart from its impact funds, it has raised four other China-ASEAN investment funds since 2004, with its fourth and most recent fund closing at $300 million in 2019. The portfolio companies from those funds include Indonesian ride-hailing mammoth Gojek and Thai remittance startup Lightnet.
With the funds raised, SAMO will accelerate its business expansion in Vietnam. The company will continue to grow its agent base and provide more financial products, including insurance, loans, investment and wealth management products.
Meanwhile, Vietnam’s fintech sector has continued to clock deals, Most recently, Vietnam’s first-mover in the ‘buy now pay later’ sector Fundiin had raised $1.8 million in an oversubscribed seed round led by Japanese funds Genesia Ventures and JAFCO Asia.
Earlier, Infina, which calls itself the “Robinhood of Vietnam,” announced an oversubscribed $2 million seed round. The seed funding saw participation from Saison Capital, Venturra Discovery, 1982 Ventures, 500 Startups, Nextrans, and angel investors like executives at Google and Netflix.