[THE INVESTOR] Viva Republica, operator of popular mobile payment app Toss, on Dec. 10 announced it has raised US$80 million funds, catapulting the Seoul-based fintech startup to a unicorn status with US$1.2 billion valuation.
The latest round was led by Silicon Valley-based venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins and Ribbit Capital that are making their first investments in Korea with this deal. Existing investors, including Altos Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Goodwater Capital, KTB Network, Novel, PayPal and Qualcomm Venture, also participated in this round.
It comes just six months after Viva Republica raised US$40 million, bringing the total funding to nearly US$200 million to date, since being founded in 2013.
The new funds will be used to accelerate business growth and expansion, according to the startup, as Toss is also planning to establish its own brokerage to tap into securities trading and offer more financial services to users. It is also seeking to expand its presence in Southeast Asia.
“I am truly proud of our team for achieving this great milestone, but this is only the beginning of our journey,” Lee Seung-gun, co-founder and CEO of Viva Republica said in a statement. “We will continue to focus on making a meaningful impact on the daily financial transactions of our existing and future users.”
Kleiner Perkins, which is known for backing tech giants like Amazon, Google and Twitter, said it believes Korea is at the forefront of an emerging fintech market, driven by the explosion of mobile users.
“Led by a focused and driven leadership team, Toss’ best-in-class product portfolio is poised to fundamentally transform how consumers access and manage their finances securely with ease,” said Noah Knauf, general partner at Kleiner Perkins.
“As an investor focused on fintech, we believe Toss has significant possibilities for growth and profitability, particularly when comparing it to other global fintech players and seeing the size of Korea’s financial market,” said Nikolay Kostav, partner at Ribbit Capital.
Viva Republica, found by dentist-turned entrepreneur Lee, rolled out flagship app Toss in 2015, which began as a Venmo-like peer-to-peer money transfer app and evolved into a financial platform, providing an array of services including loans, insurance, investment and credit management. It boasts more than 10 million registered users -- about one-fifth of Korea’s population -- and a whopping 28 trillion won (US$24.93 billion) in accumulated transactions.
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org)