Taiwan Mobile invests $20 mil. in Vietnam’s Tiki, aims to be key tech player in SE Asia

16, Aug. 2021

In the battle for online customers, e-commerce platforms in Vietnam like Tiki entice them with free shipping and quick delivery. (Photo: Tiki)
In the battle for online customers, e-commerce platforms in Vietnam like Tiki entice them with free shipping and quick delivery. (Photo: Tiki)

By Gloria Cho

TAIPEI, NNA--Taiwan’s Taiwan Mobile Co. has invested $20 million in Vietnam’s largest e-commerce player Tiki Corp. in a Series E funding round that could lead to its public listing.

Taking a small stake in Tiki, which operates its namesake retail platform, marks the Taiwanese telco's entry to Vietnam as it eyes the fast-expanding markets in Southeast Asia to help achieve its goal of becoming a major telecom and technology services player in the region.

In a statement, Taiwan Mobile said Southeast Asia is one of its 5G growth targets and would continue to seek strategic partnerships in e-commerce, logistics, broadband and 5G-related applications in the region.

“The strategic cooperation with Tiki will be able to help Taiwan Mobile and its subsidiary e-commerce platform Momo.com Inc. to find potential partners to enter the South East Asia market, while also to build new growth momentum for the group outside Taiwan,” Jamie Lin, president of Taiwan Mobile, the second biggest telco in Taiwan after Chunghwa Telecom.

With a presence in Vietnam, Momo could expand sales together with Tiki as they capitalize on its rapidly growing online shopping market as well as leverage Tiki’s market leadership, modern warehouses and logistic systems.

In turn, Tiki can tap Taiwan Mobile’s successful experiences in building smart logistic fleets and storage automation, to help cope with its fast-growing online sales in Vietnam, where the startup is known for its commitment to deliver a sales item to a customer within two hours.

Driven by COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns with many people shopping online for the first time, Vietnam e-commerce witnessed a strong 46 percent jump in GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) to reach $7 billion in 2020.

It will continue to soar and likely to hit $29 billion in 2025, according to a joint report by Google, Temasek Holdings and Bain & Co.

Billed as 'Vietnam’s Amazon', Tiki has grown from a one-man online bookstore into the country's top e-commerce platform selling multi-category items over the past decade.

Headquartered in Ho Chi Minh City, Tiki is one of the most visited shopping platforms in the Southeast Asian country, according to iPrice data. It is challenged by strong rivals such as Tencent-backed Shopee, Alibaba’s Lazada, and Mobile World.

Noted for their fast-rising economies and growing middle-class population, South East Asian markets especially those located nearer to Taiwan have continued to woo investors from the island.

Back in 2008, Taiwan's biggest telco Chunghwa Telecom Co. set up a $30 million joint venture with Vietnam’s Viettel Telecom to run an Internet data business, which has been steadily contributing to Chunghwa's coffers.

In 2020, Chunghwa invested $10 million to establish a joint venture, Chunghwa SEA Holdings, with Delta Electronics Inc. and Kwang Hsing Industrial Co. to vie for 5G businesses in Southeast Asia.

On August 3, Taiwan Mobile announced a collaboration with MediaTek Inc. and Nokia Corp. to roll out the country's first 'new radio carrier aggregation (NR CA) within a 5G standalone (SA) network environment in a trial for a more powerful 5G service.

The aggregation of the lower-frequency but higher-penetration 700MHz band and higher-frequency and speedier 3500MHZ would be a "huge step towards a real 5G network service" in Taiwan, it said.

For the first seven months of 2021, Taiwan Mobile's consolidated revenue rose by 17.31 percent to NT$86.3 billion ($3.1 billion) from the same period last year. Momo contributes more than half to its total revenue.