To rapidly expand web presence to broker more deals with financial institutions
Beyond organic growth, also evaluating acquisition opportunities in SEA
MALAYSIAN financial comparison startup Intelligent Money Sdn Bhd, better known as iMoney, pumped up by its US$4-million sale of a 20.1% stake to ASX-listed iSelect Ltd, is now ready to embark on its next phase of growth.
The approximately RM13 million worth of new funds will mainly be used to accelerate growth, bolster its management team as well as its product and technology investment, and to invest into iMoney’s regional subsidiaries in Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines.
The company is also present in Thailand, and in Hong Kong as BestMoney. The iSelect deal puts iMoney at a US$20-million valuation.
Including this latest fund-raising exercise, iMoney has raised some US$6.5 million since its inception.
In October 2013, the company raised US$2 million in a Series A funding round led by Jungle Ventures, with other investors being Econa AG, Rebright Partners, IMJ Fenox, Fenox Venture Capital, 500 Startups, Vogel Ventures and angel investor Lim Der Shing.
It also raised US$500,000 in seed capital from Asia Venture Group Sdn Bhd in June 2013, and around the same time received an RM500,000 (US$155,070) grant from the Cradle Investment Programme (CIP), a Malaysian Government initiative operated by Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd to support local technology entrepreneurs.
iSelect Ltd is an Australian company in a similar line of business, which the two companies believe gives them a win-win synergy.
iMoney has now raised the necessary funds to fuel its next phase of growth, while iSelect gets exposure to the fast growing South-East Asian market and its 600-million population.
“I’m delighted to be able to announce this deal and am looking forward to working closely with the team at iSelect to capture the vast growth potential of this marketplace,” iMoney cofounder and group chief executive officer Lee Ching Wei told a media briefing in Petaling Jaya on Sept 25.
“iSelect brings vast experience and knowledge to our business, and we are excited to have such a strong partner on board.
“Moving forward, our business focus will be on rapidly expanding our web presence to broker more deals with financial institutions, as well as to provide greater web content that is relevant to our consumers.
“Beyond continued organic growth, we are also evaluating a number of acquisition opportunities in the South-East Asian region with a view to growing even faster,” said Lee (pic), also a Digital News Asia Digerati50.
iSelect executive chairman Damian Waller, in a filing with the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), said the two companies share similarities.
“iMoney is an emerging business at a similar phase in its evolution to where iSelect was 10 years ago. It shares a similar end-to-end business model … and is the leading player in South-East Asia’s personal finance comparison market,” Waller said in the statement.
“iSelect’s modest investment in iMoney provides us with exposure to high-growth consumer markets in South-East Asia and an early-stage stake in a market-leading and high-growth business,” he added.
Once the share acquisition deal is completed, Waller will be joining the iMoney board.
“With this fund-raising exercise, we hope to be able to accelerate our growth and to triple our regional web traffic to five million unique visitors per month within the next 12 months,” said Lee.
“We aim to achieve it either organically, or inorganically via acquisitions,” he added.
Lee said the acquisition opportunities iMoney is exploring would be particularly in Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. The company is not looking to enter new markets in the region “for now,” he said.
iMoney, founded by Lee and chief revenue officer Bruno Araujo in 2012, has been enjoying significant growth over the past eight months. It claimed unique visitors a month has grown fivefold to 1.5 million during this period.
It also claimed to be the leading personal finance comparison service in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, as measured by traffic via SimilarWeb PRO.
“Over the past year alone, iMoney has originated RM1.2 billion in home loans, 65,000 credit card and personal loan applications, and now works with more than 50 financial institutions across six countries,” Lee declared.
Growth potential in several segments
iMoney helps consumers make decisions when it comes to applying for home loans, new credit cards and personal loans. Lee now sees the opportunity to expand into new areas such as mobile plans, insurance and unit trust.
This does not mean that existing segments like home loan applications have reached a saturation point. According to Lee’s fellow cofounder Araujo, in developed markets like the United Kingdom, about 5-10% of total home loans originate from price comparison websites.
“Here in Malaysia, we are doing only about 1% of the market. So you can see the potential this segment has,” he said.
To grow to the next level, iMoney will also be relying heavily on its talent pool. Over the past 12 months, the company has doubled its staff strength from about 30 employees a year ago to about 70 employees currently.
“In markets like the Philippines and Indonesia, where we had only one staff member in the past, we now have a team of three to four in each of those countries,” said Araujo.
iSelect currently has a market capitalisation of over A$354 million as at Sept 25, 2014. For the financial year ended June 30, 2014, the company reported a 2% growth in revenue to A$120.4 million, while net profit fell by 53% to A$6.26 million from A$13.27 million.
[A$1 = US$0.88]
The company attributed the decline to costs incurred in relation to the resignation and replacement of its chief executive officer Matt McCann.
On a normalised basis (as in excluding those one-off exempt items and circumstances), the company would have recorded a 27% growth in net profit to A$18.3 million for the financial year ended June 30, 2014.
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