US-based venture capital firm Almaz Capital Partners has led a $1.3 million investment in iboxMPOS, a mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) company based in Hong Kong that enables debit and credit card payments through smart phones or tablets, functioning as a mobile acquiring and payments platform. Inventure Partners and ESN Group also participated in the round.
For already a year Hong Kong-based ibox has been operating in Vietnam, and the company will use the proceeds from the latest investment round to expand to other South East Asia markets. ibox Vietnam had also recently launched its iboxStart feature, designed to target merchants with less than $1000 turnover per month, and ready to offer an offline accounting solution for small Vietnamese businesses.
Tech in Asia reported that Ibox previously raised a $3.5 million seed round in 2012 and an additional $1.3 million in 2015. A merger with another payments firm – which also raised considerable capital – places the total funds raised at US$12.1 million
Payments are transferred to a prepaid VISA card, which is part of the iboxStart package along with an mPOS (mobile point-of-sale) reader. The card is ready to use an hour after activation, and there is no need to open a bank account and wait 7 seven days to start receiving payments.
From the high potential growth market of Vietnam, the venture also plans to expand into the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea. This investment will enable IBoxMPOS to expand its reach to small businesses and large scale delivery services across the region.
Alexander Galitsky, a managing partner of Almaz Capital, commented that operating in these emerging markets are a great opportunity to pioneer new payment technologies. Small businesses are a key driver of Southeast Asia’s economy. Coupled with increased mobile phone penetration, mPoS solutions are positioned to capitalise on the need for new payment solutions.
In December, ibox and its partner company are planning to launch another product for small businesses thanks to the new investments – an offline accounting solution for smal businesses such as convenience stores in the Philippines and Vietnam. Usually, the owners of such small stores lack the knowledge to handle electronic document processing, so many go bankrupt in less than a year after opening, according to ibox.
The new tablet app, iboxKasa, will allow them to keep tabs on their goods, income, expenses as well as installment payments. It will basically do all the accounting for $3 a month and serve a target market consisting of a million stores in the Philippines and 600,000 stores in Vietnam, according to ibox.
“We’ve already reached an agreement with our partners in the Philippines (Digital Paradise Inc.,co-owned by Kaikaku Fund a Softbank affiliated fund) where the installment of such apps on the tablets of the local merchants will become part of a government support program for entrepreneurs,” said Dinh Xuan Tung, CEO of ibox Vietnam. He said that iboxKasa will also allow the storekeepers receive card payments.
He added, “ibox also plays a role of a marketplace, in addition to its own products like iboxKasa and iboxStart, through iboxSDK we offer other companies (which bring useful service for small and micro businesses) possibility to accept bank cards directly through their own mobile applications.”
ibox Vietnam has already signed deals for its mPOS service with the country’s leading banks, such as BIDV, MB, Techcombank, and OceanBank. The latest capital infusion will finance its expansion to the Philippines and the rest of the region, in addition to further product development involving solutions for insurance companies, restaurants, stores, taxi companies and delivery services.