Vietnam’s game publisher Funtap acquires over 30% stake in e-wallet 9PAY

Vietnamese mobile game publisher Funtap has picked up an over 30% stake in local digital payments firm 9PAY as it seeks to expand its technology offerings.

Funtap made a seven-digit US-dollar investment in 9PAY, Funtap founder and CEO Minh Bui told DealStreetAsia.

Funtap claims to have more than 40 million customers across the world. Its games are available in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, besides Vietnam.

Established in 2018, 9PAY was licensed by the State Bank of Vietnam in August last year. It offers a payment gateway, an e-wallet and cash collection services for both individual and corporate customers. The company aims to reach $200 million in gross merchandise value (GMV) and 1.5 million users this year.

“This cooperation will help 9PAY strengthen its financial resources, acquire new customers from more than 40 million Funtap users and widen its business partnerships to drive stronger growth in the future,” said 9PAY chief executive Dung Nguyen.

The alliance with 9PAY means Funtap users will be able to make game-related purchases using the latter’s e-wallet.

The mobile game publisher is seeking to expand to areas such as fintech, including e-payments and wealth management; education technology (edtech); anime, comics, games and novels (ACGN); and news and media, Funtap’s Bui said.

Among fruits of its grander ambitions is Tikop, a wealth management platform that was developed by Funtap subsidiary TechLab.

In April last year, DealStreetAsia had reported that Funtap secured a seven-digit investment in its Series A round led by Makers Fund, a venture capital firm focused on the interactive entertainment industry.

Other investors participating in the round included South Korean venture capital firm DT&Investment (DT&I), and Colopl Next, the corporate VC arm of Japanese gaming company Colopl Inc. While the quantum of funding secured was not disclosed, industry sources privy to the development pegged it at $5-6 million.

Since its establishment in 2015, Funtap has become one of the top three mobile game publishers in Vietnam with offerings across massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), simulation and card battle genres.

In 2018, Funtap had raised $300,000 in a seed funding round from Korean investor Soulbei.

Vietnam’s internet economy grew 16% from 2019 to $14 billion in 2020 and will likely reach $52 billion in 2025, per a 2020 Google, Temasek and Bain report.

In the SE Asia market, digital payments, in particular, is expected to grow 15% to $1.2 trillion by 2025, the report said. Meanwhile, online media, which includes advertising, gaming, video on demand and music on demand, is set to grow from $17 billion GMV in 2020 to $35 billion GMV in 2025.

The gaming industry in Vietnam is dominated by homegrown internet unicorn VNG Corporation and Garena, a unit of Singapore-headquartered Sea Group.

Both firms have digital payment operations in the country. VNG is the parent firm of Vietnam’s leading e-wallet ZaloPay, while Sea Group’s digital payments unit SeaMoney operates the AirPay e-wallet in Vietnam.

Other players in the local gaming market include Appota, which has raised capital from Korean funds such as Korea Investment Partners and Mirae Asset Venture Investment; VTC Game; and Soha Game, where Funtap CEO Bui used to serve as a director.

Last year, AppotaPay JSC, a subsidiary of game publisher Appota Group, received a payment intermediary licence from the country’s central bank.

To date, the country’s central bank has granted licences to 42 payment intermediary service providers. The three newest names entering the e-payments market include ONEFIN VietNam, JETPAY Joint Stock Company, and Mobifone. 

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.