PLDT acquires Singapore’s Paywhere for $5M
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine telecommunications firm PLDT, through unit Voyager Innovations, bought Singapore-based ecommerce startup Paywhere for $5 million, the company announced Tuesday, August 18.
The deal is expected to close within the third quarter, subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions. It is in line with Voyager’s goal of building its digital commerce business in the Philippines and other emerging markets.
Paywhere is the company behind TackThis, a cloud-based ecommerce platform that operates on a software-as-a-service model. It enables entrepreneurs and businesses to set up their own online stores in just a few steps, manage their inventory, and accept payments through a variety of local providers.
With 30,000 registered users across Southeast Asia, TackThis allows merchants to easily integrate their stores with social media sites like Facebook, as well as blog sites such as Tumblr and Blogspot, or personal blogs.
TackThis also runs a concierge service for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Philippines. The concierge service covers online store creation, inventory and logistics management, payments, and customer service.
TackThis is complemented by another Paywhere platform Takatack, which aggregates products from various ecommerce sites into a single shopping destination.
“We want to reduce the complexities, the technological barriers, and the cost to deliver that comes with bringing a store online. With this acquisition of Paywhere, we are establishing a stronger foothold in existing markets as well as taking the opportunity to expand to new ones,” said Voyager president and CEO Orlando Vea.
An eye on SMEs
Voyager is building up its portfolio of solutions in the areas of ecommerce, payments, and digital content and access, among others.
Vea says the company is targeting SMEs for its services – a market with a “significant” opportunity. He says in emerging markets, only up to 5% of SMEs have websites and only a fraction of those would transact online. In the Philippines, there are a million registered SMEs, and only one percent of them have websites.
“As more and more people are going online with increasing Internet penetration, going into digital commerce is imperative for businesses. In other words, having an online store for businesses is not just about presence – it’s about empowerment,” Vea explained.
Paywhere co-founder and CEO Dickson Gregory says joining Voyager will allow TackThis to “scale internationally.”
Gregory founded Paywhere in Singapore together with its COO Damian Chow and CTO Vincent Lau in 2010. They will retain their office at Block 71, which is part of Singapore’s tech innovation district.
Paywhere was incubated by Red Dot Ventures, Singapore’s National Research Foundation, and NUS Enterprise, which supported the company during its early days through its mentorship, financial advice, and event connections. Red Dot Ventures is an approved seed stage technology incubator under the National Research Foundation’s Technology Incubation Scheme.
Prior to the acquisition, Voyager has been working with Paywhere in marketing TackThis in the Philippines.
The PLDT group says the acquisition of Paywhere is part of a US$100 million budget it has recently allocated for merger and acquisition initiatives to expand its digital platform services.
PLDT owns 10% of European firm Rocket Internet, its first and biggest investment in the internet space so far.
In January, the two groups formed a joint venture called Philippines Internet Group, which focuses on creating and developing online businesses in the Philippines. – Rappler.com
Editor's note: This article was first published on Tech in Asia.
Man using smartphone to pay image from Shutterstock