The Philippines’ Voyager Innovations announced the close of a US$175 million funding round, marking the largest ever investment in a Filipino startup, as the company is looking to bring its fintech services to more parts of the country.
The fresh funding comes from PLDT, the country’s leading telecommunications and digital service provider, joined by global investment firm KKR, and Chinese internet giant Tencent. The signing of agreements between all parties was done last month, and PLDT is listed as the majority shareholder of Voyager Innovations. In total, the company now has raised $215 million in funding since Voyager Innovations also secured $40 million from International Finance Corporation (IFC) and IFC Emerging Asia Fund last week.
A prominent technology company in its home country, Voyager Innovations aims to develop customer-centric emerging market platforms, especially in digital payments, digital finance, and marketing technologies. The company’s portfolio is consisted of various digital services, such as mobile payment wallet PayMaya and PayMaya Business, mobile-based remittance network Smart Padala, digital lending platform Lendr, and Freenet, a rewards app for free internet access.
The Philippines is an emerging market in fintech. According to Philippines Fintech Report 2018, only 31% Filipino adults have bank account despite the large population of over 100 million. And although the mobile penetration is reaching 58%, only 4% of all transactions are made online in the Philippines currently, giving a huge opportunity for fintech to grow, especially that the country is looking for 20% digital transactions by 2020.
That said, the big investment for Voyager Innovations is expected not to only accelerate the company’s growth, but also to boost the country’s financial inclusion, “This is a watershed moment not only for Voyager Innovations but also for the Philippines. With this investment by KKR and Tencent, we will trigger an inflection point in digital adoption and financial inclusion in the country,” said Orlando B. Vea, President and CEO of Voyager Innovations in an official statement.
The partnership with Voyager Innovations marks Tencent’s first investment in the Philippines. Tencent is consistently broadening its business in Southeast Asia, spreading across games, music streaming, and ride-hailing. The company has 34% stake in SEA, a Singapore-based gaming app and parent company of Garena. Another of Tencent’s major investment in the region is including Indonesian ride-hailing unicorn Go-Jek.
Tencent’s move to invest in Voyager Innovations further strengthen the competition with its main rival, Alibaba, in Southeast Asia. Through Ant Financial, Alibaba had stepped foot earlier in the Philippines with an investment in Global Telecom’s financial venture Mynt. Voyager Innovations and Mynt are known as competitors for digital finance market in the Philippines.
Tencent is being confident with this new partnership as they believe that the Philippines has so much to offer for fintech industry, “Voyager Innovations connects the growing smartphone population in the Philippines to online payments and financial services. Tencent is glad to support Voyager Innovations and to advance financial inclusion,” said James Mitchell, Chief Strategy Officer of Tencent in a press statement.
The investments also give Tencent, along with KKR, a substantial minority stake in Voyager Innovations.
Editor: Ben Jiang