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Venture capital

Korean digital wallet operator raises $173 mn from foreign VC firms

Aug 28, 2020 (Gmt+09:00)

Viva Republica Inc., the operator of South Korea's popular digital wallet Toss, has raised its largest single fundraising worth $173 million from existing foreign investors as the company gears up to diversify its business portfolio, the company said on August 28.

The company is expected to use the hefty funding to set up financial affiliates offering about 40 types of financial services, including online banking, brokerage and insurance.

Participants of the latest fundraising include Aspex Management, Sequoia China, Kleiner Perkins, Altos Ventures, Goodwater Capital, and Greyhound Capital. The recent round of funding has valued the startup at 3.1 trillion won, up from 2.7 trillion won at the end of last year when it received another venture capital investment. Since its inception, Toss has raised 630 billion won for the company.

Industry sources say that Viva Republica’s sizeable funding is impressive given the recent cooling of the VC market due to the coronavirus impact.

“Non-contact fintech businesses such as Toss thrived during the global pandemic crisis, while other startups saw their valuations drop,” said a source from one of the company’s investors. “The company continued to boost its competitive edge by diversifying its portfolio and proved that it has potential for long-term profit,” the source added.

Earlier this month, the company launched its own payment gateway service Toss Payments after acquiring the PG unit from the country's third largest-mobile carrier LG UPlus. Also, the company's insurance unit Toss Insurance has made market headway with its consultant matching services.

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Viva Republica is keen to become a comprehensive financial services provider. In addition to money transfer, PG service, and insurance services, the company has grand plans to tackle all areas of finance.

The Korean fintech firm has received preliminary approval for its upcoming brokerage business Toss Securities which is set to kick off at the end of the year. The mobile securities platform will offer customized investment services tailored to the appetite of millennials.

The company is also planning to launch an internet bank in 2021 after receiving final clearance from regulatory authorities. According to Viva Republica, its internet bank platform will offer inclusive services giving previously alienated customers the benefits of first-tier banks.

“Toss is en route to become a super app that will fundamentally innovate all areas of finance,” said SG Lee, the chief executive officer and founder of Toss. “We are now a step closer to our dream thanks to the recent funding and we will press on until Toss penetrates every area of finance in our day-to-day lives," he added.

Toss began as a simple money transfer service in 2015, and since then has grown to become a leading fintech service used by one-third of the Korean population with over 48 million app downloads and 108 trillion won transferred.

Viva Republica posted 118.7 billion won in revenue in 2019, maintaining annual average growth of 225%. Toss recorded its first quarterly profit during the second quarter of this year with an operating profit of 1.7 billion won.

By Jung-hwan Hwang

jung@hankyung.com



 

Danbee Lee edited this article

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