One of the year’s largest fintech investments in Southeast Asia has closed after Philippines-based Voyager announced it raised $ 215 million.
The bulk of the deal comes via a previously announced investment from Tencent, which, alongside PE firm KKR, agreed to invest $ 175 million. Added to that, Voyager has pulled in a further $ 40 million from International Finance Corporation (IFC) and its Emerging Asia Fund, although that portion of the deal will take a few weeks to close.
Together, the deal is the largest piece of funding for a Philippines-based startup in history, although Voyager is hardly a startup. The business was started by telecom operator PLDT, and it operates as its fintech arm, with services 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.
“Voyager can now step up its efforts to make its innovative financial and internet platforms more accessible to more Filipinos in more parts of the country,” Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman and CEO of PLDT, said in a statement.
As we reported last month, the Tencent-led investment in Voyager draws parallels with Chinese rival Alibaba, which last year backed Philippines-based Mynt, a fintech business started by PLDT rival Globe Telecom, via its Ant Financial affiliate. That sets up an intriguing new battleground for China’s two top tech firms.
While Southeast Asia’s startup ecosystem is rising with homegrown unicorns like Grab, Go-Jek, Traveloka and Tokopedia, the Philippines has lagged the region’s other six largest countries. Fintech has been a particularly fertile area for what little funding the Philippines has attracted; SME lender First Circle closed a $ 26 million investment just before the initial Tencent-KKR deal Voyager.