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Foreign Companies Invest $28m in Vietnamese E-Banking Startup

On March 17, banking giants Standard Chartered and Goldman Sachs announced their US$28 million investment in Vietnam-based M_Service's e-banking app Momo.

The mobile money service, licensed by the State Bank of Vietnam in 2012, allows users to send and receive money via a mobile e-wallet, reports Tech Crunch. Those funds may then be used for cashless payments at select stores but can also be collected in cash via Momo agents. In addition to its e-wallets, the company also runs a branch-less banking service, allowing users in remote areas to manage their money via Momo's 4,000-plus independent agents nationwide.

According to Pham Thanh Duc, CEO of M_Service, Momo currently works with more than 100 service providers in Vietnam on the payment side of its app. The banking service, which launched in 2014, aims to grow its network to 11,000 agents by 2017 but will also “invest a lot in technology so that we can make our product more perfect,” Duc told Tech Crunch.

Already the app, which is only available in Vietnam, boasts 2.5 million users. While its CEO plans to keep the app in-country for the foreseeable future, he also acknowledges the possibility of international growth in future.

“In the long run, who knows,” he told Tech Crunch. “If we can make it successfully in Vietnam, we can look to [places like] Indochina and Myanmar.”

Vietnam is fast becoming one of Asia's most sought-after tech markets. Just last week, Apple announced its intention to set up a US$1 billion research and development center in Hanoi, Vietnamese-made app ELSA, an English-language pronunciation service, took home the top prize at SXSWedu and 500 Startups launched a US$10 million microfund in Vietnam.

[Photo via Momo]

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