South Korea, home of Samsung Pay, is becoming a magnet for mobile payments investment.
Seoul-based Viva Republica, which is seeing brisk growth with Toss, its person-to-person payments app, recently drew $48 million in venture capital funding. The series C funding round was led by Silicon Valley’s Goodwater Capital, along with PayPal, Bessemer Venture Partners, Altos Ventures and Partech Ventures, Viva Republic said in a press release.
The move follows Alibaba Corp.'s $200 million investment last month in Kakao Corp.’s Kakao Pay funds-transfer service embedded in the Kakao messaging app.
Viva Republic was founded in 2013 by former dentist SG Lee, who was frustrated with the multiple steps required to send money locally. Toss, launched in 2015, enables South Korean bank customers to send funds of up to $500 to one another in three steps. The app has 6 million users and agreements with 18 of South Korea’s 19 banks, Viva Republic said in the release.
So far there is no cost to use Toss for P-to-P transfers, but as the app’s user base grows, Viva Republica is branching into revenue-producing services. The company in September 2016 introduced a dashboard to help consumers manage personal finances and microloans available through the Toss app.
"We're rapidly rolling out new services that have been proven in other markets and working towards offering a seamless user experience across all facets of consumer finance within one ultra-simple mobile application," said Lee, Viva Republica's CEO, in the release.