The majority of Vietnam’s population live in rural areas and often lack access to financial services because banks and other institutions open most of their physical locations in cities. MFast wants to change that with what it says is the leading financial services distribution network in Vietnam. The company announced today it has raised $6 million in its Series A funding round, led by Wavemaker Partners. The round also got participation from new investors Finnoventure Fund I (managed by Krungsri Innovate) and Headline Asia, alongside returning backers Do Ventures, JAFCO Asia and Ascend Vietnam Ventures.
This brings MFast’s total raised in the six years since its launch to $10 million, including a $1.5 million pre-Series A round TechCrunch covered in June 2021. MFast’s network currently includes 160,000 active agents who work with customers in tier 2 and tier 3 cities throughout Vietnam. It has served more than a million users in Vietnam so far. The company will use its new funding to broaden its operations in Vietnam, with plans to expand outside the country, starting with the Philippines, by next year.
MFast helps its customers get access to financial services, including loans and insurance, and high-ticket items like home appliances from brands that don’t usually open retail branches in rural areas. Its agents join MFast to make supplementary income and are provided with an agent app that serves as a “mini-CRM” by MFast.
The company was launched in 2017 as a brand of fintech DigiPay by twin brothers Long Phan and Vinh Phan and currently has partnerships with financial institutions like UOB, SHBFinance, TPBank.
Long Phan told TechCrunch that he and Vinh were born in a tier 3 city near the Cambodian border, and moved to Ho Chi Minh City for their undergraduate degrees. “Having lived in both rural and urban areas, we witnessed firsthand the difficulties people with backgrounds like us face in getting access to formal financial services,” he said. At the same time, they also saw the challenges people in their hometown faced when trying to get a tertiary education and build a career.
MFast was created to help agents get their start in financial advisory and consulting work, while enabling consumers to gain access to bank accounts, loans, insurance and other financial products. Agents, who are provided with online training sessions and offline workshops, help end-customers open CASA bank accounts, loans, credit cards, insurance or shop for appliances with zero-interest purchase financing options.
The company’s new funding will be used for its proprietary technology. Phan said MFast plans to roll out new features like its Agent360 profile portal, credit scoring engine, AI fraud detector and an end-user app. It plans to expand to the Philippines while growing its agent network in Vietnam. Most of MFast’s agents come through referrals, or “agent-get-agent,” alongside MFast’s online acquisition strategies through SEO and performance marketing. Phan says prospective agents can download the MFast app and register in four minutes.
MFast competes with companies that work as agents for financial institutions, but Phan said most of them don’t have tech integration or apps. It also competes with a tech startup called The Bank, but Phan said The Bank is still relatively new to the market and uses a comparison website market, letting users compare financial products and taking a fee per lead generated on its platform.
MFast differentiates through its agent network and established base of financial institutions, which it continues to grow. It also uses tech to help agents work more effectively by ensuring transparency in every interaction with stakeholders like end users and capturing data such as user demographic, preferences and financial status. That data is enabling MFast to build a credit scoring engine, sales engine and product development strategy that includes creating exclusive products.
In a statement about the investment, Wavemaker Partners principal Phuong Tran said, “With its strong agent base and initial focus on financial products, MFast has achieved impressive results. Wavemaker is proud to strengthen our partnership with the company and support it as it enters its next phase of growth.”