Vietnam’s VNLIFE raises over $250m led by General Atlantic, Dragoneer Investment

Photo: VNPAY

Vietnam-based VNLIFE Corporation, the parent firm of payment unicorn VNPAY, has raised over $250 million in a Series B funding round led by General Atlantic and Dragoneer Investment Group, with participation from PayPal Ventures and EDBI, the corporate investment arm of Singapore’s Economic Development Board.

Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, and SoftBank Vision Fund 1, both existing investors, participated, according to a statement.

The announcement confirms a DealStreetAsia report in May that had said VNLIFE was nearing the completion of a $200 million funding.

VNLIFE said it will use the fresh capital to accelerate the growth of its portfolio of businesses and develop new platforms and technologies. “The company intends to use the funding to further capitalise on the vast market opportunities in an increasingly digital Vietnam,” it added.

VNLIFE’s main subsidiary is the fintech player VNPAY, which helps over 40 banks in Vietnam develop digital offerings.

VNLIFE also operates VNPAY-QR, the nation’s largest interoperable cashless payment network, with 22 million users and over 150,000 merchants.

Meanwhile, VNLIFE also operates an online travel unit, VNTRAVEL, which has brands including ride-sharing startup DiChung, travel technology solutions provider Tripi and booking platforms Dinogo and Mytour.vn; and TEKO, a new retail business that has developed a portfolio of complementary software solutions to serve the country’s small to large enterprises in their digitalisation journey.

“Vietnam is a rapidly-expanding economy undergoing a significant digital transformation across banking, payments, and commerce, and we expect that it will continue to benefit from these sustainable growth tailwinds,” commented Sandeep Naik, managing director and head of India & Southeast Asia at General Atlantic.

Vietnam foray for some of the investors

VNLIFE marks a Vietnam foray for the lead US investors General Atlantic and Dragoneer.

In Asia, General Atlantic has been more active in China, India, and Indonesia so far.

Meanwhile, Drangoneer – an investor in American tech biggies such as Airbnb, DoorDash, Slack, Snowflake, and Spotify – still has limited exposure in Southeast Asia. Its Asian investments include China’s Ant Financial and ByteDance, as well as India’s food delivery platform Zomato and wealth management platform INDwealth.

PayPal Ventures is also new to Vietnam given that its Asian investments have been focused on Japan and South Korea. The parent payment firm, PayPal, is an investor in the Indonesian super app Gojek.

“The quality of the investors coming to Vietnam has demonstrated its attractiveness as a market. For VNLIFE, these investors have a lot of different skill sets to share with us to apply the best practices in terms of building the digital ecosystem,” said Niraan De Silva, managing director of VNLIFE.

Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC was VNLIFE’s first institutional investor in 2019, according to the Friday statement. Japanese giant SoftBank had also invested in the firm then. DealStreetAsia had reported that VNLIFE had collectively raised about $300 million from these investors.

Last year, VNLIFE joined Vietnam’s internet services firm VNG Corporation in the regional unicorn club (tech companies with valuations from $1 billion).

De Silva had told DealStreetAsia in an interview in November last year that the company had 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.

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.

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.