The e-commerce industry experienced a dramatic increase over the past few years, as the pandemic drove more businesses to create an online presence. Coupled with rising internet penetration in the region, South East Asia in particular is experiencing the highest growth in e-commerce.
Amid the expansion of companies offering e-commerce services, one company is looking at the bigger picture and offering aggregation services to Asian e-commerce players.
Society Pass Inc. (NASDAQ: SOPA) is an acquisition-focused e-commerce aggregator with operations in Southeast Asia. It says its M&A activity has picked up steam in 2022.
This is where CFO Raynauld Liang comes in. Benzinga recently sat down with Liang to discuss the company’s target markets, service offerings and future plans.
What Is SoPa all about?
Liang said in the interview that the Vietnamese company is building a next-generation loyalty and data-focused marketing platform for e-commerce companies in Southeast Asia.
Capitalizing on the growth of e-commerce in the Southeast Asian region, Society Pass—or SoPa as Liang says it is also referred to—is focused on adding to its services by acquiring up-and-coming market leaders in the travel, digital advertising and F & B spaces, among others.
As more consumers and merchants register with their platform, more transaction data is generated, which the company leverages to create more opportunities for customer loyalty. Liang said the company’s ecosystem of technology-enabled companies synergistically works together to transform how consumers and merchants interact with one another, with the goal of generating customer loyalty for merchants while increasing the ease of transacting for consumers.
“Our major markets include Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, with Thailand and Indonesia being the new markets we have entered this year,” Liang said. Two of these countries are expected to outpace even the broader Southeast Asian market in e-commerce growth, with a third seeing double-digit growth ahead of many of its Asian peers.
The Problem SoPa Solves - And Liang’s Role In It
Liang said Southeast Asian e-commerce companies in lifestyle, travel, digital advertising, food and beverage and travel are SoPa’s target markets.
As CFO of an acquisitive NASDAQ-listed company, Liang’s primary responsibilities include Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reporting, audits, finances and integrating the company’s acquisitions. He says his core finance team has grown from just 3-4 people to 15 people in just about 6 months, apart from the finance teams helping the company in each of its target markets.
According to Liang, capital raising is going to be difficult for companies over the next year as market conditions look set to remain choppy. In such conditions, SoPa has been leaning on its strategy of acquiring companies to increase its revenue, user base and merchants.
SoPa is looking at acquisition targets ranging from $2 million to $10 million in revenues as it focuses on its user base and merchants. Liang said the company does not have any direct competitors because it is an acquisition-focused company in many of the verticals it has created. Rather than competing directly with major players in Southeast Asia’s e-commerce industry, SoPa is creating its own space through acquisitions.
“We are looking at smaller targets. We acquire anything between $2 million to $10 million, aggregate them and build different business verticals in our own ecosystem,” Liang said. SoPa keeps their acquisition targets aligned with them through equity swaps and conserves cash by lowering its cash consideration offers so it always has enough working capital at hand for the expansion of all of its business verticals.
With SoPa continuing to look for targets, Liang’s role along with company Founder/Chairman/CEO, Dennis Nguyen, is critical in the due diligence process to help ensure that the company is buying the right target, and at the right price.
About The CFO
Liang brings strong capital markets experience to the management team at SoPa. After completing his education from the University of Queensland in Australia, he began his career as finance manager at IBM Corp.’s (NYSE: IBM) IBM Global Services/IBM Asia Pacific Software Group before moving to Hyflux Ltd. for a similar position from 2005 to 2007.
From there, he went on to add even more valuable capital markets experience as CFO for Singapore Exchange Ltd.-listed Sino Environment Technology Group Ltd. and as an investment adviser for Primeforth Capital Ltd. Before joining Society Pass (SoPa) Liang was financial director for Connex Capital Ltd.
As a loyalty and data marketing ecosystem, Society Pass operates multiple e-commerce platforms across its key markets in SEA. Its business model focuses on analysing user data through the expected launch of its Society Pass loyalty platform and circulation of its universal loyalty points, which seamlessly connects consumers and merchants across multiple product and service categories to foster organic loyalty. Since its inception, SoPa has amassed over 1.6 million registered consumers and over 5,500 registered merchants/brands on its platform. It has invested 2+ years building proprietary IT architecture with cutting edge components to effectively scale and support its consumers, merchants, and acquisitions.Society Pass provides merchants with #HOTTAB Biz and #HOTTAB POS – a specialized POS technology solution, a comprehensive system for payment, loyal customer management, user profile analytics, and convenient financial support packages for small and medium-sized enterprises.In addition, SoPa operates Leflair.com , Vietnam’s leading lifestyle e-commerce platform, Pushkart.ph , a popular grocery delivery company in Philippines, Handycart.vn , a leading online restaurant delivery service based in Hanoi, Vietnam, and Gorilla Networks , a Singapore-based, blockchain/web3-enabled mobile virtual network operator.For more information, please check out: http://thesocietypass.com/ .
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Dennis Nguyen: Founder, Chairman & CEO