Viva Republica is the most disruptive fintech startup in South Korea. Since the 2015 launch of its simple peer-to-peer payments app Toss, banks are finally revamping their user experiences and customers have easier access to financial products. South Korea’s mobile payments have more than quadrupled in that time to $4.6 billion, according to Bank of Korea data.
The startup, funded at $76 million, hasn’t stopped there. After PayPal joined a $48 million investment in Toss in March, Toss has grown from a simple money-transfer app to a diverse consumer-finance platform generating Viva Republica’s $20 million in expected revenue in 2017. Toss thus joins Asia’s ranks of fast-growing mobile P2P payment services, reaching a $12 billion transaction volume in 2017.
Paypal’s Venmo, which says it now processes over $3 billion in monthly transactions, took four years to reach the $1 billion mark in the US. Toss, with 12 million users, got there in about half the time. It has set its sights on breaking even in the near future—a global first in the P2P money-transfer space, says founder and CEO Lee Seung-Gun.
Although Toss started as a transfer service similar to Venmo, Square Cash and Google Wallet, it has bigger aims, with a business model closer to that of huge and highly profitable Ant Financial and Tencent—that is, offering a broad financial platform rather than just a one-service app.