Rocket Internet and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), a telecom operator, announced today that they have entered into a strategic partnership to develop online and mobile payment products. PLDT will invest €333 million (about $445 million) for a 10 percent stake in Rocket Internet, putting Rocket Internet’s valuation at about $4.5 billion.
The companies said that they will “jointly develop mobile and online payment technologies and services” for “the ‘unbanked, uncarded, and unconnected’ population in emerging markets. Rocket Internet’s deal with PLDT should help support its e-commerce businesses, including Zalora and Lazada, in Southeast Asia, where mobile penetration rates far outstrip the use of credit cards, creating a quandary for online vendors. The partnership could also support Rocket Internet’s other investments in emerging markets, which include EasyTaxi, a car-calling app, and FoodPanda, a food delivery service.
PLDT says that its subsidiary, Smart Communications, handled transactions valued at about €3.4 billion in 2013 through its mobile money system, which includes Smart eMoney, a global mobile payments platform of Mastercard that also works with Citibank and VISA.
Rocket Internet says that it has more than 20,000 employees in over 100 countries, and had aggregated revenues in 2013 of more than €700 million (about $936 million).
In a statement, Oliver Samwer, the founder and CEO of Rocket Internet, said “Financial technology is a key focus sector for Rocket and this partnership will allow us to build on PLDT’s world-class innovations in mobile money and micro-payments and accelerate the delivery of those solutions around the world.”