China’s Tencent has just announced its first official investment made in the Philippines through the funding of Voyager, a local fintech firm by the telecom company PLDT, as reported by Techcrunch. The deal was announced by PLDT after rumours suggeted that Tencent has invested a total of US$175 million along with KKR for Voyager’s minority stake.
It is said to be Tencent’s move that followed its direct competition Alibaba closely, after Alibaba first stepped foot in the Philippines 18 months ago with an investment made in Global Telecom’s financial venture Mynt. Voyager and Mynt is head-to-head competing for digital finance market in the country.
Voyager’s service covers a range of digital financial options that include a prepaid wallet, digital payment option for retails, a remittance network for sending money, a digital lending service, and a loyalty and rewards program.
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With the deal, Voyager’s parent company PLDT reportedly has decided to add other investors via the creation of new shares that would reduce its total holdings to less than 50 percent although the company plans to keep its position as the largest shareholder. In a meantime, the focus for PLDT is to bringing in expertise and more capital for growth.
With the population of more than 600 million people owning mobile phone with a growing internet access, Southeast Asia has become the breeding ground for fintech to set up businesses or for seasoned companies to branch out into e-payment service. Digital payment service gave Southeast Asian more options to spend or save their money.
The Philippines itself is the world’s third-largest remittance market, with an estimation of US$28 billion worth due to its large overseas worker base.
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Around 65 percent of its workforce and 35 percent of national GDP are accounted to SME, but there’s few credit options or limited data for assessment in the Philippines, making the likes of fintech startups focusing on digital lending, mobile wallets, and other payment systems continues gaining momentum. Earlier this week, Philippines based SME lender First Circle just closed a US$26 million investment.
This Voyager deal would make it the biggest investment in a Philippines-based startup thus far.
Image Credit: Tencent
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