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South Korea-based Viva Republica/Toss eyes ride-hailing expansion

Monday 8 November 2021 13:46 CET | News

Fintech unicorn startup Viva Republica has decided to expand from the world of finance and into the arena of ride-hailing, according to Forbes.

The startup, whose backers include PayPal, Sequoia Capital China, and Singapore sovereign-wealth fund GIC, raised USD 410 million in June 2021 at a valuation of USD 7.4 billion from the likes of the Korea Development Bank and Silicon Valley-based Altos Ventures. Viva Republica operates Toss, a finance super app with over 20 million users in Korea, equivalent to more than one-third of the country’s population. Launched in 2015, Toss started out as a money transfer service and has since expanded to offer a suite of financial services, including banking, insurance, and investing. Now, nearly seven years after launching Toss, Viva Republica is making its first major move beyond digital finance.

Later in November 2021, Viva Republica expects to complete its acquisition of a 60% stake for an undisclosed amount in Seoul-based VCNC, which operates a ride-hailing service in Korea called Tada. Unlike insurance and payments, many people use ride-hailing services like Tada on a regular basis. VCNC launched Tada in 2018 and the company says it has about 2 million users. Around 90% of Tada users use the app regularly, according to VCNC. The Korean ride-hailing market is currently dominated by a unit of local internet giant Kakao. Earlier in November 2021, SK Telecom, part of the SK Group chaebol, teamed up with Uber Technologies to launch their own ride-hailing service, increasing competition in Korea, says Forbes.

While Viva Republica faces an uphill battle in the ride-hailing market, there are hopes that the Toss-Tada combination can create synergies and strengthen its ecosystem. The focus is towards data, according to the startup’s CEO, who is pointing to the success of Southeast Asia-based internet giants Grab and Gojek (renamed to GoTo Group after merging with Indonesian ecommerce platform Tokopedia in May 2021). 

Both Grab and Gojek started off as ride-hailing companies. After achieving a critical mass of users, the two companies built an ecosystem of services around ride-hailing, including financial services. Grab and GoTo reportedly built robust credit score models and insurance policies because they have all of the data of drivers' behaviors. For example, drivers with good reviews from passengers and large amounts of transaction data (from completed trips) could receive more favourable interest rates and insurance policies. These new data sets are supposedly going to reinforce Toss' finance ecosystem.


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Keywords: expansion, startup, fintech, insurance, super app, mobile banking
Categories: Banking & Fintech
Companies:
Countries: Korea, Republic of
This article is part of category

Banking & Fintech