Vietnam’s 4 Unicorns Solidify the Country’s growth in the digital space in Southeast Asia

With a booming economy Vietnam has been witness to an explosive growth in startups, and 4 of those have officially become unicorns. Read more.

The Covid-19 pandemic has provided opportunities for growth for various new online platforms including Vietnam’s most famous unicorns. For instance, online gaming startup unicorns in Vietnam have witnessed incredible growth during the Covid-19 pandemic. According to RedSeer, there has been a substantial increase in the number of online game players in ASEAN countries. 

As far as Vietnam is concerned, VietnamNet has confirmed that the country has recorded a spike in the number of active game players. Moreover, gaming startups in the country have increased from 400 in 2012 to a whopping 3,000 in 2017, according to Vietnamnet. According to another report by Do Ventures and the National Innovation Center (NIC) under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, it is estimated that Vietnam will have at least 10 unicorn startups in the near future.

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VNG – Technology and Gaming giant

VNG Corporation is one of the most prominent gaming companies in Vietnam. It is responsible for the production, development, and publication of various online games. Some of its key creations are Võ Lâm Truyền Kỳ, 360 Games, Crossfire Legend, and Sky Garden.

VNG Corporation along with other South Korean companies has invested a total of USD 81 million in Haegin, a South Korean mobile gaming company that owns Play Together. This kind of investment is a step towards expansion in the international market and becoming a global investor in the metaverse sector. 

VNPay – Fintech

As per a report by Tech in Asia, Vietnam’s second tech unicorn VNLife owner of VNPay, a cashless payment firm, declared its acquisition of USD 250 million jointly made by U.S.-based investors. Owing to the country’s various extensive digitization policies, VNPay is all set to tap into the growing market.

In 2019, the company had raised a sum worth USD 300 million from a U.K.-based investor and the state fund of Singapore, GIC. This company as of now has a valuation of USD 1 billion.

VNPay has a major stake in the homegrown Fintech sector as it lends its services to 22 banks in the country. It has over 15 million active users in a month who benefit from its features like paying bills online, transferring money, and buying groceries among many others. VNPay-QR, another coventure of the company helps more than 150 retailers and 22 million users. There are innumerable opportunities for companies like VNPay to actively engage in diversifying financial services as well as monetizing data because almost 70% of Vietnam’s population has little or no access to banking facilities. 

Read More: Top Venture Capital Firms in Vietnam Backing Exciting New Startups

Mobile Money (MoMo) – Vietnam’s leading e-wallet

In the tech startup unicorn race, MoMo recently arrived at the fourth position as it reached USD 2 billion in valuation as the global financial company of Japan Mizuho Bank invested USD 200 million in it. It began as small as a SIM-card application that permitted mobile recharge and money transfers in 2010. Later, it turned into an e-wallet that transformed into a super-app in 2014 that became an avenue for making donations, investments, and processing insurance.  

The e-wallet giant aims to direct its funds towards the digitization of the rural market by backing  SMEs and garnering more tech investments. The larger vision is to create a multipurpose smartphone application that provides different types of financial solutions. Reaching out to SME merchants is a big problem owing to a lack of resources but MoMo is all geared to take this challenge head-on. 

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Sky Mavis – NFT Games and the Metaverse

In the startup ecosystem, Sky Mavis’s NFT-based online game Axie Infinity has bagged the highest investment and is leading the unicorn race with a valuation worth USD 2.4 billion at present in Vietnam. In a country whose major economy relies on agriculture and the export of textiles, Axie Infinity has launched the country into a marathon for digital currency startups. In some countries like the Philippines, it has become the main source of income. The game involves NFT users also known as Axies which bear a close resemblance to Pokémon, fighting one another. Therefore, in this game, Axies are nothing else but Non Fungible Tokens that you can acquire by playing. These can be bought or sold further in a three-dimensional virtual world or the metaverse. For example, Axie Infinity gamers can buy or sell virtual assets like land or other in-game accessories as NFTs. 

Predictions for 2025 and beyond

In the Southeast Asian region, Vietnam is the third most sought-after country for foreign investors just after Indonesia and Singapore. According to some analysts, the startup culture in the country is spreading like wildfire. With sufficient government support, it is bound to become a thriving place for prospective unicorns. In the first half of 2019, USD 5.9 billion was invested in Asian startups, out of which 17% was allocated to Vietnam. As per the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s speculation, and reported by Vietnamnet the country will be host to a minimum of five Unicorn tech startups with their valuation at more than USD 1 billion dollars by 2025 which would become twice its worth by 2030.

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As of June 2022 Vietnam has 4 unicorns

4 of Vietnam's tech startups have become unicorns so far: VNG, VNPay, Momo, and Sky Mavis.

Vojtech Zehnalek

Verified by:​

Vojtech Zehnalek, MSc.

Vojtech Zehnalek is the CEO of the Cekindo Vietnam office. He graduated in Economics and International Trade from the University of Economics in Prague, the Czech Republic, and he also earned a Business Degree at the Vlerick Business School in Belgium.