Super fintech Viva Republica raises $410M off its success in tech-savvy South Korea

The news: The mega-round brings the South Korea-based fintech’s valuation to $7.4 billion, up from $2.3 billion in August last year, per TechCrunch.

What does it do? Viva Republica is the parent company of super app Toss, which offers a wide range of financial services to 20 million users—over a third of South Korea’s population.

Toss began as a peer-to-peer payment platform in 2015 and has expanded into aggregating users’ bank accounts and credit cards on one dashboard, as well as providing budgeting tools, credit score tracker, insurance plans, and more.

What is its appeal? Viva Republica boasts strong user acquisition and revenue-generating opportunities and offers backers a potentially lucrative exit.

  • Trading. In March, Toss launched stock-trading services for retail investors, and it has already signed up 3.5 million users, thanks to the exploding global demand for digital brokerage services.
  • Loans. The fintech plans to launch a neobank this September to further widen its services. This will allow it to open a new revenue stream via proprietary loans, such as mortgages. Credit-scoring data that Toss has collected on users will inform its underwriting and help it offer competitive rates.
  • International expansion. Last year, Toss expanded to Vietnam, adding 3 million users, and it plans to launch in Malaysia by the end of this year.
  • IPO. Viva Republica is mulling a Korean or US listing within the next three years after one more private fundraise of over $300 million in the near future, per founder and CEO SG Lee.

The bigger picture: The significant raise highlights the scaling potential in South Korea for fintechs.

The latest mega-raise suggests a fintech boom in South Korea thanks to its tech-savvy population: The country has the highest smartphone penetration in the world, at 95%, and reached 20 million open banking users last year. For context, the UK, the most advanced open banking country in Europe, has just 3 million users.

As a result, while Viva Republica remains South Korea’s sole fintech unicorn for now, its peers are also experiencing strong user growth: Mobile payment provider Kakao Pay, for example, has over 34 million users and is preparing an IPO.

This trend should help South Korea establish itself as a fintech hub just as larger regional powers move to rein in their own fintechs, such as China’s crackdown on super apps and India’s crypto ban.

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