With an aim to build its digital commerce business in the Philippines and other emerging markets, Voyager Innovations, the digital innovations unit of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), have acquired Singapore-based eCommerce platform start-up Paywhere PTE Ltd.
This is in line with Voyager’s thrust of building its digital commerce business in the Philippines and other emerging markets.
Paywhere is the company behind online store creator TackThis!, a cloud based eCommerce platform that operates on a software as a service (SaaS) model. It enables entrepreneurs and businesses to set up their online store in just a few steps and allows them – among many other things – to showcase their products on various online platforms, manage their store inventory, and accept payments through a variety of local providers.
TackThis! allows merchants to easily integrate their stores to social media sites like Facebook, as well as blog sites like Tumblr and Blogspot, or personal blogs.
On top of regular features that can conveniently enable entrepreneurs and small business to set up their own online stores, Voyager Innovations together with PLDT Alpha Enterprise and PLDT SME Nation recently launched its premium concierge service in an event targeting a thousand larger retailers. The concierge service covers professional online store creation, store management of logistics, payments and customer service via a team of TackThis! Ambassadors.
The TackThis! eCommerce platform has around 30,000 registered users across Southeast Asia where it is complemented by Takatack, an online shopping discovery platform for various products including those posted using TackThis! More than 400 merchants, meanwhile, are already part of the TackThis! Concierge program.
Voyager Innovations, as a digital economy platform enabler, is building up its portfolio of solutions in the areas of eCommerce, payments, and digital content and access, among others, with an eye on the emerging markets, starting with the Philippines and adjacent countries.
“We want to reduce the complexities, the technological barriers, and the cost to deliver that comes with bringing a store online. With this acquisition of Paywhere, we are establishing a stronger foothold in existing markets as well as taking the opportunity to expand to new ones,” said Orlando B. Vea, president and CEO of Voyager Innovations.
According to Vea, the opportunity for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is significant. In emerging markets, for example, only 1% to 5% of SMEs have websites, and only a fraction of those would have transactional online stores. In the case of the Philippines, there are 1 million registered SMEs, with only 1% of them having websites.
Braving the online shift by creating an online store will help these SMEs accelerate the growth of their businesses.
“As more and more people are going online with increasing Internet penetration, going into digital commerce is imperative for businesses. In other words, having an online store for businesses is not just about presence – it’s about empowerment,” Vea added.
“Voyager is passionate in creating digital innovations of the future. By joining their team, we have more opportunities to onboard merchants onto the TackThis! platform. I look forward to seeing TackThis! scale internationally, much in the same way we’ve seen the platform help entrepreneurs grow their businesses,” said Dickson Gregory, co-founder and CEO of Paywhere.
Gregory founded Paywhere in Singapore together with Chief Operating Officer Damian Chow and Chief Technology Officer Vincent Lau in 2010. They will retain their office at Blk 71, which is part of LaunchPad, the upcoming ‘Silicon Valley’ of Singapore.
“As consumer buying behavior shifts online, the future of retail is commerce everywhere – in store, on the web, and on your mobile device. With this development, we aim to grow TackThis! as the social commerce platform in the emerging markets.” said Mitch Padua, Vice President and head for digital commerce at Voyager Innovations.
Early this July, Paywhere was cited by the Singapore Computer Society as one of the top ten tech companies to work for.
Paywhere was incubated by Red Dot Ventures, National Research Foundation, and NUS Enterprise, which supported the company during its early days through its mentorship, financial advice, and event linkages. Red Dot Ventures is an approved seed stage technology incubator under the National Research Foundation’s Technology Incubation Scheme.
The acquisition of Paywhere advances the mission of Voyager Innovations to enable the digital economy in emerging markets. Since 2014, Voyager Innovations has been working with Paywhere in marketing TackThis! In the Philippines.