Fave set to enter India after Pine Labs acquisition

It will be the 1st Malaysian start-up to make a breakthrough in India with growth strategy of city-by-city

by RAHIMI YUNUS / Pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

FAVE, a Malaysian-based consumer financial technology platform, will expand into India in May after it was recently acquired by Singapore-incorporated Pine Labs Pte Ltd.

Fave co-founder and CEO Joel Neoh Eu-Jin (picture) said the growth strategy in India will be city-by-city, starting with Jaipur and Gurgaon. This, he said, will be different from how the app has quickly grown in Malaysia and Singapore.

Fave will be the first Malaysian start-up to make a breakthrough in India, which has a growing e-commerce market that is expected to reach US$200 billion (RM826 billion) by 2026 from US$38.5 billion in 2017.

“India is a really big bet for us. No Malaysian company or start-up has gone there. We are very bullish for the long term because India is going to have the world’s largest

consumer population, with its population estimated to cross over 1.5 billion people by 2030,” Neoh told The Malaysian Reserve in a recent interview.

India-based Pine Labs recently acquired Fave in a cash and equity deal valued over RM185 million.

With the acquisition, Indian consumers will be able to use the Fave app across 500,000 merchant network points powered by Pine Labs across 3,700 cities in India.

Neoh said the Fave app will be tied up to Pine Labs’ terminals used by offline merchants such as restaurants and retailers in India in 500,000 locations where payments can be made via debit or credit cards, as well as a mobile app.

“Pine Labs has the merchant commerce platform and we have the consumer app so we are going to link up our consumer app with their merchant commerce platform. This will allow us both to grow together,” he said.

He said Fave will be launching the app in India within the network of the National Payments Corp of India (NPCI), which is akin to Malaysia’s Payments Network Malaysia Sdn Bhd’s real-time retail payments platform.

He said consumers in India will be able to link their bank account to Fave and make payments through NPCI’s unified payments interface (UPI), with the quick response (QR) codes.

He said India sees about two billion transactions through QR payments every month, which translates into about 20 billion to 30 billion transactions a year.

The UPI in India grew to 2.7 billion transactions in March 2021. Pine Labs also recorded a growth of 171% in UPI transactions over the last two quarters.

Besides the synergy between Fave’s and Pine Labs platforms, Neoh said the acquisition will provide more capital for Fave to grow.

This includes plans to immediately hire hundreds of new employees including in India. “We are quite excited to be part of a larger group,” he said.

In a previous statement, Fave noted that there will be no changes in its leadership structure. Fave will be hiring over 100 new employees in South-East Asia and India to drive consumer app adoption in both regions.

In South-East Asia, Fave has enabled six million consumers to save RM1.6 billion across 40,000 retailers since 2016.

Neoh said Fave is targeting to double its figures in South-East Asia within the next year or so while it grows in India city-by-city as the app rolls out. To date, Neoh said Malaysian consumers have saved RM369 million in cashback and convenience on Fave.

In August 2020, Fave announced a partnership with Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (SingTel) and DBS Bank Ltd that enabled over half a million Singaporeans to use their respective Singtel Dash and Paylah! E-wallet apps to pay at their Fave partner stores.

In its early stages, Fave received funding from Axiata Digital Innovation Fund in 2015 as part of Malaysia Digital Economy Corp’s Global Acceleration and Innovation Network programme.