Vietnamese neobank Timo raises $20m in Square Peg-led round

Vietnam-based neobank Timo has raised $20 million in an investment round led by Square Peg, which has backed a spate of fintech players such as FinAccel, StashAway, Pluang and Airwallex across Asia.

Timo is aiming to leverage the lead investor’s fintech expertise to ramp up its operations.

Jungle Ventures, Granite Oak, FinAccel and Timo’s existing backer Phoenix Holdings, and angel investors joined the latest round, the digital bank said in a statement.

Timo had earlier bagged seed funding from the team of local tech investment firm VinaCapital Ventures.

Established in 2015, Timo is Vietnam’s first digital bank offering services ranging from payments, cards, to investment, insurance and installment. Timo also claims it is amongst the first banks in Vietnam to offer e-KYC.

Lead investor Square Peg manages over $1 billion in assets and has invested over $200 million in SE Asian tech startups. Meanwhile, Timo backer FinAccel forayed into Vietnam in August through a joint venture with Phoenix Holdings to operate Kredivo’s pay-later business in the country.

Incidentally, Phoenix Holdings is run by Timo CEO Henry Nguyen and his wife Nguyen Thanh Phuong, who is the daughter of ex-prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung and a board member at Viet Capital Group.

In 2019, Timo announced a strategic partnership with Viet Capital Bank, which replaced VPBank as its bank partner. VPBank subsequently teamed up with local ride-hailing firm Be Group to introduce digital bank Cake in January last year.

In another partnership in 2017, Canada’s Sun Life Financial acquired a 25% stake in Crescent Asia Limited, the holding company of Global Online Financial Solutions (GOFS), which operates Timo. The Canadian firm also forged a three-year insurtech partnership with GOFS.

In a sign of increased traction in the country’s digital banking space, incumbents such as TPBank, OCB, HDBank and Techcombank, among others, have also rolled up their sleeves to join the fray.

A McKinsey report on digital banking behaviours last year showed that the number of digital bank users in Vietnam had grown by 41 percentage points between 2017 and 2021, compared to APAC’s 33 percentage points.

The model has been proven in other Southeast Asian markets, with major investments into companies such as Philippines-based Tonik and Voyager, Singapore-based Tyme, as well as the push for applying for digital bank licences in countries like Singapore and Indonesia.

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.