Rocket Internet, the German incubator that’s so often viewed as a tech ‘clone factory’, is furthering its efforts to grow a global e-commerce empire after announcing plans to develop payment services for emerging markets.
The company has teamed up with Philippines-based telecom company PLDT — the owner of mobile operator Smart — which will buy a 10 percent chunk of Rocket Internet for €333 million, that’s approximately $445 million. The deal gives a first glimpse at an official valuation for Rocket Internet, which is almost $4.5 billion. Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that the firm was considering an IPO in Germany at a valuation of $4.71 billion.
Rocket Internet’s move into payments makes plenty of sense. It operates multiple e-commerce businesses across Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, each of which is a region where existing payment solutions suffer from localization problems, including low credit card penetration. Beyond providing tailored solutions, payment services can help Rocket Internet companies control more of the online commerce cycle (and revenue), in the same way that Alibaba’s affiliated service Alipay does with its retail sites.
A list of Rocket Internet companies
PLDT, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, becomes only the third outside investor in Rocket Internet. Its expertise in payments — the group claims to have handled over €3.4 billion in transactions during 2013 alone — is sure to help Rocket Internet’s portfolio of companies worldwide.
“Financial technology is a key focus sector for Rocket and this partnership will allow us to build on PLDT’s world-class innovations in mobile money and micro-payments and accelerate the delivery of those solutions around the world,” said Rocket Internet founder Oliver Samwer in a statement.
Rocket Internet claims to have over 20,000 employees on its books worldwide. Its portfolio companies are present in over 100 markets across the world — together they racked up more than €700 million ($937 million) in revenue last year, the company says.
Headline image via 401(K) 2012 / Flickr