Fintech is Viber’s next big move in PH

Rakuten Viber, known in the Philippines for its popular online messaging service, is in talks with local financial technology players to expand its presence in the booming digital money business and serve approximately 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. “We are expanding these services to the Philippines, I hope, in January 2022, ”the Agaoua Inquirer said in an interview last week.

He said Viber, backed by Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, was in talks with local companies active in the fintech space, but he stopped short to name specific parties.

Viber had previously entered into a partnership with Globe Telecom and its mobile wallet GCash on payment of QR codes in its food catalog, FoodPH.

‘Meta-app strategy’

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

“We are in discussions about expanding these partnerships. We are also discussing with new partners, ”he said.

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

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

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

Rising demand

It also comes at a crucial time when 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.

Mobile wallets like GCash and PayMaya have expanded their user base and aim to handle trillions of pesos in transaction volume this year alone.

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

“We always try to take advantage of the position that local partners have and [we] bring what they do not have and build together a solution where everyone wins something, ”he said. INQ

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