June 18, 2020 / 6:02 AM / a month ago

Japanese telco SoftBank invests in startup Splyt in hunt for super app

FILE PHOTO: The logo of SoftBank Group Corp is displayed at SoftBank World 2017 conference in Tokyo, Japan, July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese telco Softbank Corp said on Thursday it led a $19.5 million funding round in startup Splyt, which helps app operators integrate mobility options with other services, as it seeks to build its own super app.

Japanese tech firms have lagged peers such as Tencent Holdings, with its WeChat app, in creating super apps, which offer access to a range of services via a single interface.

SoftBank will take a “significant stake” in Splyt, which has helped integrate ridehailing into apps such as Alibaba Group’s Alipay and Grab, backed by SoftBank Group Corp, with the deal focused on using the technology with its own services.

SoftBank is poised to control two top contenders for a local super app, the chat app from Line Corp, which will be brought under the SoftBank umbrella in October after striking a deal with South Korea’s Naver Corp, and SoftBank’s own payments app PayPay.

The head of SoftBank Corp’s global business division, Daichi Nozaki, will sit on the board of Splyt.

Reporting by Sam Nussey and Fanny Potkin; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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