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Fintech is Viber’s next big move in PH

/ 03:59 AM July 19, 2021

Rakuten Viber, known in the Philippines for its popular instant messaging service, is in talks with local financial technology players to expand its presence in the booming digital money business and serve roughly 40 million users in the country next year.

Viber CEO Djamel Agaoua said this was part of a plan to launch a host of fintech services—including money transfers between users—that would be gradually rolled out globally, starting in Eastern Europe in the fourth quarter of 2021.

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“We will expand those services to the Philippines, I hope, in January 2022,” Agaoua told the Inquirer in an interview last week.

He said Viber, backed by Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, was in negotiations with local companies that were active in the fintech space but he stopped short of naming specific parties.

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Viber had earlier partnered with Globe Telecom and its mobile wallet GCash for QR code payments on its food directory, FoodPH.

‘Meta app strategy’

However, Agaoua explained that existing partnerships “do not cover 100 percent of what we want to do today.”

“We are in discussions to expand those partnerships. We are discussing with new partners as well,” he said.

The move is part of Viber’s broader “meta app strategy” that would focus on content creation, business services and fintech as key pillars.

For their fintech expansion, Agaoua said they wanted to give users the ability to “send money to each other or to pay a service or product directly from Viber to a store or business.”

These features would be integrated into Viber while the functions of digital money transactions were powered by their local partner, he added.

Growing demand

It also comes at a crucial period as more Filipinos turned to fintech services due to restrictions triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic—a trend that was expected to continue even after the global health crisis.

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Mobile wallets such as GCash and PayMaya have widened their user base and are targeting to handle trillions of pesos in transaction volume this year alone.

For Viber, Agaoua said they planned to pursue their global expansion strategy through partnerships.

“We always try to leverage the position local partners have and [we] bring what they don’t have and together build a solution where everybody wins something,” he said. INQ

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TAGS: Business, FinTech, Rakuten Viber
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