Omise, a relative newcomer to the payments space in Southeast Asia, landed a $2.3 million Series A investment earlier this year, and now the Bangkok-based startup has pulled in more money via an undisclosed seven-digit investment from Singapore’s Golden Gate Ventures.
Co-founder and COO Donnie Harinsut told TechCrunch that the new money will be used to expand Omise’s payment processing service — currently live in Thailand — to Indonesia and Japan, where it is currently in beta, in December. Beyond that, the aim is to be live in another half a dozen markets over the next year — Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Hong Kong are initial targets.
“We want to be a one-stop service for big merchants wanting to penetration Southeast Asia,” Harinsut said of Omise’s ambitions. “We don’t really need the money, but we see that there’s a big opportunity in around the region and we want to expand.”
Geographic expansions aside, Omise is eying new products, too. Right now it caters to large enterprises, SMEs and startups who want payment gateway options, but Harinsut and CEO Jun Hasegawa told us that the firm is close to whitelabeling its service (for the first time) with a bank in Malaysia. The team is studying the possibility of using the blockchain (the technology that powers cryptocurrencies like bitcoin) to handle remittance payments in Southeast Asia. The Philippines is one of the largest remittance markets in the world, and it would be interesting to see a payments firm using the blockchain to tackle that opportunity.
While opportunity appears to be knocking, there’s one major rival waiting in the wings: Stripe, the $5 billion valued U.S. firm.
Stripe has been in Singapore with a beta service for a while, but it hasn’t moved in other parts of Southeast Asia yet. Regardless, Harinsut believes Omise has plenty of benefits over its well-backed rival. While Stripe processes payments for cards — including Alibaba’s popular Alipay service in China — Omise covers a host of other methods, including internet banking, direct debt, and over-the-counter. The latter sounds incredibly low-tech, but — surprisingly — many in Southeast Asia like to pay bills over the counter at their local store, even if they have a credit card or internet banking… something about seeing the color of their money perhaps.
Beyond further financing for Omise’s ambitions, the deal is notable for being the second-largest check from Golden Gate Ventures.
“Our investment thesis is that in order to create a massive success in Southeast Asia, companies need to expand beyond their home country to reach the half billion people that are coming online and rapidly adopting mobile internet and e-commerce. Expanding out from your home country is what separates the winners from the losers in this region,” Vinnie Lauria, Managing Partner of Golden Gate Ventures, said in a statement.
The VC firm launched its second, $50 million fund this summer, and, having led a $3.3 million Series A for online furnishing seller Hipvan, it seems like we can expect plenty more deal activity to come.