Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank Vision Fund and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte have offered to invest up to $300 million in Vietnamese payments startup VNPAY, DealStreetAsia has learnt.
According to an industry executive aware of the development, the Vision Fund could invest up to $200 million in the Vietnamese startup, while GIC has proposed a $100-million capital infusion. The funding, if successful, will catapult VNPAY into the league of unicorns, or privately-held startups with valuations of $1 billion or more.
Another source confirmed that both the Vision Fund and GIC have expressed an interest in participating in a funding round for VNPAY that could top $200 million.
If the deal follows through, VNPAY will be the Vision Fund’s first investment in a Vietnamese company and GIC’s first in a Vietnamese payments startup.
We have reached out to VNPAY, SoftBank Vision Fund and GIC for comment.
DealStreetAsia had reported in April that GIC was looking to lead a funding round for VNPAY with an investment of over $50 million. UBS is understood to be the adviser for the transaction.
Founded in 2007, VNPAY claims to have provided payment services to over 40 banks, five telcos and over 20,000 merchants in Vietnam. It runs a mobile banking app, an e-wallet called VnMart and a QR code-based service, and other services that allow bill payments, e-tickets and mobile marketing.
The Hanoi-based company is one of Vietnam’s top 50 IT businesses and a major player in QR payments. Other players include Warburg Pincus-backed MoMo, VNG’s ZaloPay and Payoo (acquired by NTT Data).
One of VNPAY’s top rivals is MoMo, which closed an undisclosed Series C round led by global private equity firm Warburg Pincus in January. The round was learnt to be the range of $100 million, according to our sources, making it one of the largest rounds closed by a Vietnamese startup. Post that round, MoMo is also learnt to be in talks with Ant Financial, but this could not be independently verified by us.
Vietnamese fintech startups received $117 million in capital across eight deals last year, according to a report by the Topica Founder Institute.
With investments in payment startups like VNPAY and MoMo, private equity and venture capital firms are tapping into the opportunity to convert Vietnam’s unbanked and under-banked, which still comprise a majority of the local population.
According to the World Bank, 40 per cent of Vietnamese adults had a bank account in 2017.