Japan’s newest unicorn is a mobile payment company in Thailand

Placeholder while article actions are loading

Opn Co., a mobile payment gateway provider, was valued at about $1 billion in a $120 million financing round last month, making it one of a handful of unicorns in Japan.

Formerly known as Omise, the Tokyo-based company owes much of its success to its early entry into another Asian country: Thailand. Opn entered the market in 2013, when it relied heavily on cash transactions, capturing a significant portion of mobile payments by helping small businesses make the digital transition and leading the major network operators to adopt its technology, it said. company.

The Series C+ funding marks a rare success for a Japanese startup at a time when venture capital is bracing for a sharp industry downturn. JIC Venture Growth Investments and Mars Growth Capital Pte participated in the round, while Japan’s largest bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., agreed to provide approximately $38 million as part of a loan guarantee program organized by the Ministry of Commerce of the United States. country.

“Our priority now is to develop our product line and expand our presence in both existing and new markets,” said Jun Hasegawa, co-founder and CEO of Opn in an interview. “While we are always thinking about ways to grow our business, our options could later be a global IPO to expand our global reach.”

Opn designs software that helps merchants set up payments on their mobile or desktop websites. The largest market is Thailand, home to 41-year-old Hasegawa co-founder Ezra Don Harinsut. The company’s customers include True, one of Thailand’s largest telecommunications conglomerates, and Total Access Communication Public Co., or DTAC.

The startup plans to use the proceeds from the funding to expand its services into new markets, including Vietnam and the Philippines. In addition to Japan and Thailand, Opn is currently active in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. In the long term, Hasegawa aims to make Opn services available in at least 36 major countries, including the US and European economies.

“We want to have a footprint in every major country,” Hasegawa said.

Despite increasing competition in mobile payments, Hasegawa says Opn’s years of experience in Southeast Asian markets and ability to adapt to complex local regulations give the company an edge over rivals. In April, the company appointed Chris Misner, who had served as general manager of Apple Inc.’s Asia-Pacific online store, to its board of directors.

Sales have doubled every year since 2019 as more consumers opted for digital payments in the wake of the global pandemic, enabling Opn to reach 100 million transactions per year. The company did not disclose detailed earnings figures.

But Hasegawa has not always been successful with his ventures. In 2017, he brought in $25 million through an initial coin offering, an unregulated sales process that exploded in popularity that year. His company was working on facilitating cryptocurrency payments at the time, and the OmiseGo tokens were worth more than $2 billion at one point. They collapsed when the market collapsed and the company divested OmiseGo in December 2020.

“I have learned a lot from my past failures and they have made me think about what is the one service you always and always need,” said Hasegawa. Now, “we have a strong desire to create a global financial infrastructure, which is what we are looking for.”

(Updates with information about board members; an earlier version corrected the spelling of DTAC in fifth paragraph)

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.