Invigor Group advances WeChat Pay potential by expanding operations into Japan

Invigor Group ASX IVO Winning WeChat Pay Japan
Invigor Group and Winning Group have secured the rights to deploy WeChat Pay into Japan.

Data analytics company Invigor Group (ASX: IVO) has delighted its shareholders by announcing a “major coup” in the form of a cornerstone expansion of its operations into Japan.

In further good news, Invigor has confirmed it has broadened its existing deal with Winning Group and Tencent, by making their existing agreement indefinite and agreeing to integrate Invigor’s loyalty solution into WeChat.

This follows last month’s announcement that the deal would become “unconditional”.

In partnership with Winning Group, Invigor has said it has secured the rights to deploy WeChat Pay into Japan which has the potential to significantly expand the company’s commercial footprint across Asia.

At the current time, Invigor is working as part of a relationship with Winning Group, a global solutions provider for Tencent Holdings, one of China’s largest companies and one of the world’s highly-valued internet companies.

Currently, Tencent owns WeChat which is one of the most popular payments and social platforms in China with over 1 billion users and 900 million active WeChat Pay customers.

Dealing into Japan’s payments market

Today’s deal is a major development for Invigor which it says, “underpins the company’s pivot into transaction-based operations,” alongside WeChat’s international expansion.

Invigor told the market that its geographical expansion and the increase in scope are noteworthy for several reasons.

Firstly, it reflects the appeal of Invigor’s Loyalty solution for WeChat, and the technology in delivering sophisticated loyalty capabilities for both merchants and shoppers. Secondly, the deal improves upon the existing three-year agreement to provide “security of tenure”, according to Invigor CEO Gary Cohen.

Also, the expansion is being driven by the very customers with which Invigor is conducting ongoing negotiations regarding “revenue-generating deployments”.

Invigor and Winning now have the rights to deploy WeChat Pay in three major markets: Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong – geographical expansions that are expected to court high-end multi-label fashion brands that will be marketed to many Chinese tourists.

Japan represents an important market for the duo, given it is one of the top three destinations for Chinese tourists, many of which now use WeChat Pay.

In the first half of 2018, over 4 million Chinese tourists visited Japan – a 23% increase on the previous year.

According to market statistics, Chinese visitors are the most prominent visitors to the country in both nominal numbers and total financial spend – claiming top spot in dollar terms in terms of shopping and retail spend.

Adding key brands

In addition to its move into Japan, Invigor is also “at an advanced stage” of negotiations with two brands that intend to utilise WeChat Pay, given their retail presence in the country.

Both are major global groups and collectively account for a large number of major fashion brands. Understandably, they are seeking to make WeChat Pay available for as many of their stores in South-East Asia and Japan as possible and see the broad appeal in what Invigor and Winning Group can deliver, according to Mr Cohen.

Powered by Invigor’s intellectual property (IP) within the WeChat ecosystem, the two as yet unnamed brands are looking to capitalise on a viable opportunity for major brands to increase customer acquisition and “share-of-wallet”, enabling them to grow profits through sophisticated loyalty programs powered by Invigor’s intellectual property.

“Revenue-sharing terms have already been agreed with contract signings pending on EFTPOS integration and finalisation as to which labels wish to deploy WeChat Pay,” the company said.

Invigor’s Loyalty solution – specifically its “Shopper Insights technology” – gives brands the ability to understand their customers in order to engage with them in more personalised ways.

It also enables them to influence and reward shoppers daily thereby increasing long-term loyalty. Shoppers benefit from having a seamless shopping experience, which brings their online and offline lives into one frictionless and convenient ecosystem, where they receive personalised content, offers and rewards.

“Expanding into Japan is a major coup for Invigor and Winning Group,” said Mr Cohen.

“We now have a footprint in three very large markets and two of the most visited destinations by Chinese tourists, many of which will want to use WeChat Pay for their purchases,” he added.

Microsoft deal

In a further boost for Invigor, yesterday the company received “Co-Sell ready” status from Microsoft.

Under the Co-Sell program, Invigor’s solutions will be marketed to Microsoft’s extensive customer base, as well as Microsoft’s wide network of partners. The company said this will expand future business opportunities and opens further opportunities internationally.

Invigor has been developing its Shopper Insights and Pricing solutions on Microsoft Azure since the start of this year and has met a number of key performance commitments to secure the Microsoft Co-Sell status, thereby “demonstrating a proven ability to execute on projects”, the company said.

George is an award-winning market analyst who has authored articles and editorial opinion pieces for multiple publications around the world. He has written about a wide variety of topics including financial markets, stocks, trading, politics and economics.