[THE INVESTOR] Viva Republica, the operator of popular mobile payment app Toss, said on Dec. 5 said it is planning to establish a brokerage to tap into securities trading and offer more financial services.
“We have decided to establish our own brokerage, rather than acquiring another firm, in a move to jump into the securities trading market,” a spokesperson of Viva Republica told The Investor.
However, she denied a local media report that Toss will file for a brokerage license this month with regulator Financial Services Commission, adding that the exact timeline hasn’t been decided yet.
In order to set up a brokerage, the firm has reportedly received over 50 billion won (US$44.85 million) from venture capital firms, including US-based Kleiner Perkins -- which is known for backing Amazon, Google and Twitter -- and an existing investor KTB Network, among others. The latest round has given it a valuation of over US$1.2 billion to become the latest Korean firm to join the prestigious unicorn club.
The firm also dismissed the reports saying that while it is raising more investments, the investors, amount and details are yet to be confirmed.
Toss provides services through which users can invest small sum in foreign securities, funds, peer-to-peer investments and real estate, in connection with local financial institutions. Once it launches its own brokerage, it is expected to roll out diverse investment products, as well as asset management services.
Toss’ main rival Kakao Pay, mobile messenger giant Kakao’s payment subsidiary, is also jumping into the securities trading business by taking over a local brokerage. In October, the firm announced it is buying midsized securities firm Baro Investment & Securities in a move to expand its financial services.
Viva Republica was established in 2013 by dentist-turned entrepreneur Lee Seung-gun. It rolled out its flagship app Toss in 2015, and within three years reached a whopping 26 trillion won in accumulated transactions with over 10 million users -- meaning one of five Koreans use the app.
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org)