South Korean Fintech Unicorn Eyes Ride Hailing Expansion

Following the breakthrough of fintech technology in South Korea, the NSA, one of the most valuable startups in South Korea, Viva Republica, made its first foray into the lucrative world of finance. Me.

Bivali Bubbleka has bold rights. With backers like PayPal, China’s Sequoia Capital and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, the startup raised $410 million from the Korea and Silicon Valley Development Bank in June for an estimated $7.4 billion. Altos Ventures base. The financing round has made Viva Republica one of the most valuable startups in South Korea and catapulted founder and CEO Lee Seung-gun into the ranks of millionaires.

Viva Republica manages Toss, a super finance app with more than 20 million users in South Korea. That’s more than a third of South Korea’s population. Founded in 2015, Toss started as a remittance service and has since grown to offer a wide range of financial services such as banking, insurance and investment. About seven years after Toss launched, Viva Republica is taking its first big steps outside of digital finance.

Vivali Bubbleka plans to close later this month its private acquisition of a 60% stake in Seoul-based VCNC, which operates a travel service called Tada in South Korea. Lee Seung-yuop is happy that many people regularly use travel services like Tada as opposed to insurance and payments. “This is the app we use every day,” Lee said in a video interview with the FinTech startup office in Seoul. You have to move somewhere right? So you have to use some kind of mobility service every few times a day.”

VCNC launched Tada in 2018 and, according to the company, has around 2 million users. According to VCNC, about 90% of Tada users use the app regularly. The Korean transportation services market is currently dominated by a division of local internet giant Cacao, which was founded and run by one of the country’s richest men, Kim Beom-su. Earlier this month, SK Telecom, part of the SK Group owned by South Korean billionaire Chei Tae-won, partnered with Uber Technologies to launch its own ride-hailing service and increase competition in South Korea.

Vivali Bubbleka faces an uphill battle in the vehicle market, but Lee hopes the throw-and-drop combination can create synergies and strengthen its ecosystem. “We expect a lot of potential data,” said Southeast Asian internet giants Grab and Gojek (renamed GoTo Group after joining Indonesian e-commerce platform Tokopedia in May). Lee, 39, said. “Data mobility is an important pillar for Grab and Gojek,” he said.

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Both Grab and Gojek started out as hiking businesses. After gaining a large number of critical consumers, the two companies built a service ecosystem centered around aviation, including financial services. “Grab and GoTo built a solid credit rating model and insurance policy because we all have data on driver behavior,” said Lee. For example, drivers with good passenger feedback and large amounts of transaction data (from completed trips) can get cheaper interest rates and insurance policies. “This new dataset will undoubtedly strengthen the Toss financial ecosystem,” he said.

Lee is currently focusing on combining finance and mobility and expanding sales at home and abroad, but has not ruled out further transactions in the future. “We monitor consumer behavior and lives,” said Lee, who tried out text messaging apps and group voting before turning to digital finance. “If there’s a new problem to deal with or an opportunity we can have, we can move into that area once we’ve worked it out.