PLDT unit Voyager acquires Singapore’s Paywhere for $5M

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Voyager Innovations, the digital innovations unit of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), has acquired Singapore-based ecommerce platform start-up Paywhere Pte. Ltd. for $5 million.

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The move is in line with Voyager’s thrust of building its digital commerce business in the Philippines and other emerging markets.

“We want to reduce the complexities, the technological barriers, and the cost to deliver that comes with bringing a store online,” said Orlando Vea, president and chief executive officer of Voyager Innovations.

“With this acquisition of Paywhere, we are establishing a stronger foothold in existing markets as well as taking the opportunity to expand to new ones,” he said.

According to Vea, the opportunity for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is significant. He said that in the case of the Philippines, there are 1 million registered SMEs, with only 1 percent of them having websites.

Paywhere is the company behind online store creator TackThis, a cloud-based ecommerce platform that operates on a software as a service (SaaS) model.

It enables entrepreneurs and businesses to set up their online store in just a few steps and allows them to showcase their products on various online platforms, manage their store inventory, and accept payments through a variety of local providers.

It also allows merchants to easily integrate their stores to social media sites like Facebook, as well as blog sites like Tumblr and Blogspot, or personal blogs.

In line with this, Voyager Innovations, together with PLDT Alpha Enterprise and PLDT SME Nation, recently launched its premium concierge service in an event targeting 1,000 larger retailers.

The concierge service covers professional online store creation, store management of logistics, payments and customer service via a team of TackThis Ambassadors.

The TackThis ecommerce platform has around 30,000 registered users across Southeast Asia where it is complemented by Takatack, an online shopping discovery platform for various products including those posted using TackThis. More than 400 merchants are said to already be part of the TackThis Concierge program.

Voyager Innovations, as a digital economy platform enabler, is building up its portfolio of solutions in the areas of ecommerce, payments, and digital content and access with an eye on the emerging markets, starting with the Philippines.

Braving the online shift by creating an online store will help these SMEs accelerate the growth of their businesses.

“As more and more people are going online with increasing Internet penetration, going into digital commerce is imperative for businesses. In other words, having an online store for businesses is not just about presence – it’s about empowerment,” Vea added.

“As consumer buying behavior shifts online, the future of retail is commerce everywhere–in store, on the web, and on your mobile device. With this development, we aim to grow TackThis! as the social commerce platform in the emerging markets,” said Mitch Padua, vice president and head for digital commerce at Voyager Innovations.

Early this July, Paywhere was cited by the Singapore Computer Society as one of the top 10 tech companies to work for. Paywhere was incubated by Red Dot Ventures, National Research Foundation, and NUS Enterprise, which supported the company during its early days through its mentorship, financial advice, and event linkages.

Red Dot Ventures is an approved seed stage technology incubator under the National Research Foundation’s Technology Incubation Scheme.

The acquisition of Paywhere advances the mission of Voyager Innovations to enable the digital economy in emerging markets. Since 2014, Voyager Innovations has been working with Paywhere in marketing TackThis in the Philippines.

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