Vietnam’s VNLIFE said to seek over $200m in new funding round

VNLIFE, the parent firm of Vietnam’s digital payments major VNPAY, is understood to near the completion of an over $200 million fundraising round.

Global strategic and financial investors are said to be participating in the round, which could be closed within a month.

People with knowledge of the matter also told DealStreetAsia that VNLIFE had approached Facebook as a potential investor, but a deal could not be reached.

When contacted, VNLIFE declined to comment.

VNPAY, the largest business of VNLIFE, helps local banks build and manage their mobile banking infrastructure. It also operates a payment gateway and a QR code-based payments system. Meanwhile, the parent firm is also active in online travel, B2B e-commerce, and new retail.

DealStreetAsia had reported in 2019 that VNLIFE was in talks to raise up to $300 million from SoftBank Vision Fund and Singapore’s sovereign fund GIC Pte. The company chairman had later confirmed securing capital from the two investors.

The funding catapulted VNLIFE into the unicorn club of startups valued at $1 billion or more last year. It is the second Vietnamese company to achieve the vaunted billion-dollar valuation after internet firm VNG Corporation.

VNLIFE’s other brands include ride-sharing startup DiChung, travel technology solutions provider Tripi and booking platforms Dinogo and Mytour.vn. Its new retail units include Teko, which offers solutions for the e-commerce, logistics and payment sectors; omnichannel sales management platform Sapo; electronics retailer Phong Vu; and digital marketing and customer experience management platform Mobio.

In addition, VNLIFE has invested in startups such as iCheck, a company providing barcode and QR code services to businesses, and e-invoice software VNInvoice.

Niraan De Silva, VNLIFE’s managing director, told DealStreetAsia earlier that the company has been profitable for several years. “Given the way we have built the company as a B2B enabler and infrastructure technology platform, we have very strong unit economics,” he said.

VNLIFE claims to have built the largest QR merchant payment network in Vietnam with over 100,000 payment acceptance points. It provides services to more than 40 banks in Vietnam, 12 banks in Cambodia and seven e-wallet partners, according to its website.

Other major players in the digital payments space in Vietnam include private equity-backed e-wallet MoMo; GrabPay by Moca, the fintech unit of decacorn Grab; ViettelPay, which is owned by Vietnam’s largest telco Viettel; and VNG-owned ZaloPay. MoMo has raised the most capital among these e-wallets, pocketing at least $230 million from investors such as Warburg Pincus, Affirma Capital, Goodwater Capital, Macquarie Capital and Tybourne Capital Management.

About 69% of Vietnam’s close to 100 million citizens are currently unbanked. The government in 2019 set itself an ambitious goal of bringing down the proportion of the unbanked to 20% by 2025.

The country is also heavily reliant on cash for financial transactions. Cash payments accounted for 80% of total transactions in 2019, according to data and marketing services provider IDG.

Total e-payment transaction value in the country is projected to reach $15 billion this year and is expected to achieve an annual growth rate of 15% to touch $26.4 billion by 2025, according to estimates by Statista.

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.