Planned deal between PLDT's Voyager, Tencent might not push through

MANILA, Philippines – PLDT Incorporated unit Voyager Innovations Incorporated will go solo for the meantime, as talks with Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings Limited are not making any progress.

"We have not received any word... one way or another, from Tencent. We are assuming, at least for the moment, we will not have a strategic partner so we will proceed with our own paths with Voyager," Voyager chairman Manuel Pangilinan told reporters on the sidelines of a briefing in Makati City on Monday, May 14.

Voyager is a digital innovation firm wholly owned by PLDT. It is involved in fintech through PayMaya, e-commerce, and digital marketing.

Tencent, meanwhile, is the multinational investment holding conglomerate that developed applications like WeChat, QQ, and Honor of Kings. Tencent is the rival of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group led by billionaire Jack Ma.

Back in November last year, Pangilinan said Voyager may have a Chinese partner to bolster its digital presence. (READ: Globe, PLDT battle it out in cashless payments)

Also last year, Voyager's rival Globe Fintech Innovations Incorporated (Mynt) announced a partnership with Jack Ma's Ant Financial.

One of the early fruits of that partnership was the launch of the GoPay QR code payment system through Globe's GCash in August.

It was just last year when Tencent launched its WeChat cashless payment service through a partnership with Asia United Bank.

Carrying on

With or without Tencent, Pangilinan said Voyager will continue with its expansion plans, after the company saw bullish performance of its mobile payment unit PayMaya.

"We'll still carry on. The volume of business and the number of accounts on PayMaya, merchants have grown," Pangilinan told reporters.

PayMaya has been actively collaborating with merchants, latest of which was hand-rolled soft pretzel chain Auntie Anne's, allowing more consumers to pay by simply scanning QR codes through its app.

It was in 2014 when PLDT partnered with Rocket Internet to mainly launch its joint venture now known as PayMaya, offering mobile-first payment services. This supported the telco's existing mobile money services under Smart Money.

Voyager's FreeNet has also allowed more brands and companies to digitally engage customers with sponsored data access to their apps and websites.

"The FreeNet, which is a marketing portal, has done very well in the past few months. We are encouraged with that and that was done without any strategic partner," Pangilinan said.

As of now, Voyager will carry on without a strategic partner.

"I think it's important for us to rethink what Voyager could do under current circumstances. We're also just learning about the business," Pangilinan added. – Rappler.com