Vietnamese fintech app MoMo announced on Tuesday it had crossed $2 billion in valuation after raising $200 million in a successful Series E funding round led by Mizuho Bank, a global financial company based in Japan. The new funding has pushed MoMo’s status in the startup ecosystem, making it Vietnam’s fourth unicorn, alongside VNG, VNPay and Sky Mavis.
What started as a SIM-card application that allowed people to transfer money and buy mobile top-up and game scratch cards in 2010, MoMo became a smartphone e-wallet that further expanded into a super app that processes insurance payments, donations and provided an investment marketplace in 2014.
According to its co-founder Nguyen Manh Tuong, MoMo’s goal is "to improve the life of the Vietnamese people and merchants through technology, by giving them access to superior, simpler and affordable financial solutions.”
Furthermore, the e-wallet company intends to allocate their new funding to support rural expansion, accelerate their tech investments, and support small and medium enterprises in adapting to digital transformation — all to achieve an all-in-one smartphone application or "super app" that offers multiple services.
MoMo’s Chief Financial Officer, Manisha Shah, shares the same goal of reaching the SMEs in the country. “Small and medium merchants are one of the most difficult markets to reach because the challenge they face within the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic is a lack of human resources,” she explained during the webinar co-hosted by Vietcetera. “They have a minimal understanding of how the digital world works and limited time to learn this. Finally, many of them live in survival mode, which means they were thinking in short terms. But also all competitors prefer cash.”
“The biggest challenge is still trust,” Tuong told Bloomberg. “Going to the more rural areas, we still need to invest our time and money in educating the users.”
MoMo’s CFO also believes that having customers’ trust is critical in Vietnam and as more brands start offering it, it will be easier to earn people’s trust. “But companies or platforms that survive in the industry are the ones who create more value in their products and know-how to engage with their customers and create a good customer experience.”
Two days before the $2 billion valuation announcement, Mizuho Financial Group Inc., through its subsidiary Mizuho Bank reported having acquired 7.5% shares of M_Service JSC, the company behind MoMo. In addition, in January of this year, MoMo bagged over $100 million in investments. Still, its co-founder insisted the plan for an initial public offering is not happening soon and will instead concentrate on strengthening its products and market position.
When it comes to revenue, Tuong said MoMo’s almost doubled this year, even with the dramatic drop in movie ticket and travel services sales during pandemic lockdowns in the country. In 2020, MoMo had 23 million registered users. As merchants and consumers shifted to digital platforms because of the health risks in person-to-person transactions, its users grew to over 31 million in 2021.
The e-wallet market in Vietnam has been one of the most significant driving forces behind the country’s move towards a cashless society and its future looks promising. With these vast developments in terms of valuation and number of users, Vietnam expects to see more fintech startups emerge in the coming years.