IPO

S.Korean FinTech Kakao Pay Preps For IPO

Kakao Pay is set to be the first South Korean FinTech working with mobile payments to undertake an initial public offering (IPO), according to a report from The Paypers.

The company is likely to be valued at $8.5 billion and plans to use the IPO to enter into new business areas, such as adding a digital insurance unit to its portfolio alongside its existing insurance and securities work, the report stated.

This will allow Kakao Pay to "cover all areas of finance, with the exception of banking, which is accounted for by Kakao Bank," the report stated.

The company has tapped KB Securities Co. as the lead IPO advisor and requested the Financial Supervisory Service to designate an auditor, according to the report.

Kakao Pay is the FinTech arm for Kakao Corp., and boasts over 34 million users, which is the largest number for a domestic mobile platform, the report stated.

IPOs in 2020 have lost some ground to new special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), which are blank-check shell companies only formed to help startups achieve going public, at which time a reverse merger is performed with an existing company. According to investment firm Apollo Global Management's Josh Harris, this new form of acquisition isn't likely to die out soon; its way of quick funding and price certainty provide a much more efficient manner of going public.

IPOs took a dive early in the pandemic as the global market was suffering, but in the U.S., they began to creep back upward around late May, with numerous startups beginning to file them again.

Other innovation at South Korean businesses includes the development of an artificial intelligence (AI) robot solution for coffee shops to ensure that people stay socially distanced while going out. The robot barista, operating at a cafe in Daejeon, can make 60 different types of coffee and serve orders to customers sitting at tables, with just one human working to oversee the operations.

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