Will Singapore's Fave succeed in India following Pine Labs acquisition?

·5-min read
Pine Labs
Pine Labs

By Lee Kah Whye

Singapore, April 19 (ANI): Last week, Noida based Pine Labs announced that it is acquiring Fave, one of Southeast Asia's fastest growing fintech and e-commerce startups in a cash plus stock deal.

Pine Labs said in a press release that it is paying over SGD 60 million (USD 45 million) to take over the Singapore-based company. Fave's investors will receive cash whereas the founders and key Fave employees will receive cash and shares of Pine Labs.

Fave count among its backers Sequoia Capital India, China-based SIG Asia Investments, and Indonesian venture capital firm Venturra Capital.

The acquisition is anticipated to help both companies accelerate their growth in the Asia region and unlock consumer opportunities across retail, food and beverage, fashion, and the consumer goods markets. The statement added: "Joining forces with Pine Labs will reinforce Fave's market position in Southeast Asia."

Following the integration, Fave's founders will have their roles expanded to lead the overall consumer platform for the enlarged Pine Labs group across Asia.

In addition, Fave expects to be hiring over 100 new employees in Southeast Asia and India to accelerate cashless payments and smart savings across the region.

Fave said that it will "continue to introduce new smart payment features via the Fave platform, unlocking new ways to maximize joy and value in every shopping experience for consumers across Asia."

Fave was co-founded in 2016 by Malaysian Joel Neoh who is their current CEO. He originally founded Groupon Malaysia and left the US e-commerce marketplace group as their Head of Asia-Pacific after slightly over four years.

Following its founding, Fave expanded aggressively in Southeast Asia and acquired the Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia units of Groupon between 2016 and 2017. It now operates in 35 cities across these three countries.

Today, Fave has over six million customers in Southeast Asia and enables more than 40,000 retail partners. Besides an e-payment platform, its app facilitates ecommerce including offering digital discount coupons to its users.

Pine Labs, valued privately at over USD one billion, is an Indian merchant platform company that provides financing and last-mile retail transaction technology.

It started in 1998 as a smart card-based payment and loyalty solution provider for the retail petroleum industry. Over the years, it has evolved into mainstream payments, offering merchants solutions, and connects them with banks and financial services.

They were one of the first companies to use smart, cloud-based unified point-of-sales platforms. Its customers include some 70,000 retailers across India including major retail outlets such as Mark's and Spencer's Retail, Pantaloons, Shoppers Stop and Westside. It also has presence in Malaysia and Dubai.

According to Pine Labs, over 100 million retail customers tapped its platforms to process more than 550 million transactions a year. Its merchant network includes pharmacies, fashion retailers and airlines.

15 major banks as well as seven financial institutions support its platforms. It saw transactions on its platform soar 171 percent between October 2020 and March 2021.

Pine Labs' principal investors include US fund house Lone Pine Capital, PayPal, Singapore government investment firm Temasek, UK-based Actis Capital, US investment firm Altimeter Capital, Belgium's Sofina and Sequoia Capital.

The India ecommerce and digital wallet space has exploded in recent years especially since the introduction of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in 2016 which allowed direct connection with banks for the transfer of money.

There are more than ten sizeable players with digital payment apps including Google Pay which claims to have 100 million users, Walmart's PhonePe, Amazon Pay and PayTM which is a pioneer in this market but was eclipsed by PhonePe as the number one platform recently.

Based on German market data firm Statista, in February 2021, there are a total of 2.3 billion digital payment transactions worth four trillion Indian rupees (about USD 54 billion), a 70 per cent year on year growth in transactions. Of the 2.3 billion transactions, PhonePe had a share of 42.5 per cent, Google was at 36 per cent and PayTM's share at 15 per cent.

Pine Labs aims to rollout the Fave app in India later this year across its 500,000 merchant network points in about 3,700 cities.

Commenting on the acquisition, B Amrish Rau, CEO, Pine Labs, said, "Consumers have tremendous choices in their payment types. They want to be sure that they save on every transaction. Fave helps consumers apply their best rewards, coupons, gift cards and cashbacks on all transactions in a seamless manner. Joel and the Fave team have built a loyal consumer base with their smooth checkout experience. We are excited to partner with them in this journey in South East Asia and India."

"Really excited to work with Amrish and the Pine Labs team to continue expanding the Fave platform across the Asia region. Pine Labs has been a great partner and investor for us, and it only made sense for us to join our synergies together and work towards our shared vision of building a truly global consumer and merchant platform," said Joel Neoh, co-founder and CEO of Fave.

He added, "India has the digital advantage with young demography, growing aspirational middle class with rising disposable income and increasing digital savviness. We are confident that the APAC e-payments landscape will continue to achieve exponential growth in the coming decade. Together, we will be stronger, faster and better." (ANI)