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Toss operator mulls IPO in 2025, possibly in US

Fintech company's valuation surges to W8.2tr in latest funding worth W460b

Viva Repulica Founder and CEO Lee Seung-gun. The dentist-turned-entrepreneur founded the fintech app Toss operator in 2013. (Viva Republica)
Viva Repulica Founder and CEO Lee Seung-gun. The dentist-turned-entrepreneur founded the fintech app Toss operator in 2013. (Viva Republica)


Viva Republica, operator of financial technology app Toss with more than 20 million registered users, said Wednesday it is considering an initial public offering in 2025, hinting at a possible market debut in the US.

“We‘re not in a hurry and we will consider an IPO in earnest three years down the road, and could go public around 2025,“ said Lee Seung-gun, founder and CEO of Viva Republica, adding that the IPO could take place either in Korea or overseas.

The company expects one more round of fundraising in the private market later this year or early next year before going public in the next four years.

The remark came along with an announcement that it has raised 460 billion won ($404 million) in the latest funding round, which puts the company’s valuation at 8.2 trillion won.

This latest infusion of capital was led by local policy lender Korea Development Bank, US-based investment firm Alkeon Capital Management and joined by existing investors including Altos Venture and Greyhound Capital. KDB has injected 100 billion won and Alkeon Capital Management, which has invested in leading tech companies such as Facebook and Square, has placed 84 billion won.

Launched in Seoul, Viva Republica became a “unicorn” startup valued at over $1 billion in 2018. The pioneer in mobile-based financial services is now heading toward becoming a “decacorn,” a startup valued at more than $10 billion. The valuation of Viva Republica, which has Toss Securities, Toss Payments and Toss Insurance under its umbrella, has ballooned threefold since its last fundraising round 10 months ago.

The company said it hopes to duplicate the success of Toss Securities once Toss Bank starts its official operations as early as September.

Toss was given a green light by the financial authorities earlier this month to launch the country’s third internet-only bank, Toss Bank. The new addition to the nation’s burgeoning mobile financial services market said it would focus on loan business for low- and mid-credit holders.

Founded in March, Toss Securities, which operates within the Toss app, has attracted 3.5 million users bolstered by the company’s aggressive marketing tactics, including a free stock giveaway to new users. The company also launched its first overseas unit in Vietnam in 2020 and offers money transfer and debit card services in partnership with local bank CIMB.

Viva Republica, which has 20 million registered users, 11 million of whom are active monthly users, said that it will use the funds to further spur its growth and support the growth of its subsidiaries.

“The level of South Koreans’ financial services subscriptions per household is the highest in the world and the pace of digitalization of the finance industry is rapidly accelerating since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which yields a huge opportunity for mobile finance platforms,” Lee said. “By directly entering major sectors such as banking and securities, we can completely redesign financial products and services from a customer’s point of view.”

The company recorded 390 billion won in revenue in 2020, up 230 percent from a year ago. It expects to see more than 1 trillion won in revenue this year while narrowing the operating loss that stood at 72.5 billion won last year, it added.


By Park Ga-young (gypark@heraldcorp.com)
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