Asian telecoms firm targets mobile banking expansion with Germany’s Rocket

Out-Law News | 08 Aug 2014 | 4:36 pm | 1 min. read

Telecoms operator the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and Germany’s Rocket Internet have entered into a “global strategic partnership” to develop online and mobile payment solutions in emerging markets.

Rocket said the deal, under which PLDT will invest €333 million for a 10% stake in Rocket, will combine “PLDT’s world-class mobile money expertise and resources with Rocket's global platform”.

PLDT said it will fund the investment from available cash and new debt.

The two companies see Rocket as a “platform for the rapid creation and scaling of consumer internet businesses outside the US and China,” said Rocket, which has a network of companies throughout more than 100 countries with aggregated revenues in excess of €700m in 2013.

Rocket’s existing brands include Southeast Asian e-commerce businesses Zalora and Lazada. The company said that, alongside e-commerce and marketplaces, financial technology and payments is the third sector where it expects to see “significant growth opportunities”.

PLDT president and chief executive officer (CEO) Napoleon Nazareno said: “Our investment demonstrates our commitment to the global Internet market and our belief in the powerful synergies between e-commerce and mobile payments, particularly in developing economies. The strategic partnership will allow us to leverage our combined strengths in developing online and mobile payment solutions in emerging markets.”

PLDT’s wireless subsidiary Smart Communications is a leading global player in mobile banking and mobile wallet services. Smart's mobile money system handled transactions valued at around €3.4 billion in 2013. Its mobile money subsidiary, Smart eMoney, co-developed and operates a global mobile payments platform of MasterCard, and is working with Citibank and Visa to develop new financial services.

Rocket founder and CEO Oliver Samwer 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.”