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Unlockd partners with Axiata to expand into Asia

Ad and content funded mobile platform, Unlockd, has signed a strategic partnership with Axiata Digital, the digital services arm of Axiata Group Berhad (Axiata) as part of closing their Series B funding round.

The partnership is the result of Axiata Digital’s lead investment in Unlockd’s Series B round and will accelerate the company’s entry into Asia by leveraging Axiata’s carrier list, which has presence across ten countries, including mobile operations in key markets of Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, India and Singapore.

The strategic partnership through Axiata Digital will provide direct access to the Group’s carrier businesses and local knowledge and key talent in the region, overseen by Unlockd’s most recent hire, Aliza Knox, Chief Operating Officer, who has a wealth of experience in the region.

The USD 23 million Series B round also has strong follow-on investment from existing strategic and early stage investors and also brings a new venture capital firm, Alium based in Australia into the investor list. The new injection of capital will fund the company’s expansion into new markets and sectors, as well as scale its operations globally following the successful execution of four large markets in the first 15 months.

“Axiata Digital’s strategic and financial support provides us with an expedited pathway into one of the fastest growing smartphone regions in the world. Being able to secure agreements with their operating companies to roll out in key markets sooner than previously planned also means we could raise less capital than we originally anticipated. Having secured new strategic and institutional investment as well as strong support from the existing strategic and early stage investors for our Series B, is testament to the business our amazing team are building. I’m excited that that we’ve now secured the right financial and human capital to deliver on the hyper growth profile we have in front of us,” said Matt Berriman, CEO and co-founder of Unlockd.

“As one of Asia’s leading telecoms groups, with presence in 10 countries and approximately 320 million customers across the region, we are proud to keep innovating our product offering with unique solutions that help solve some of the biggest challenges in our industry. Unlockd’s technology will bolster our continued leadership position in the market across our mobile business and help lower acquisition cost, increase ARPU, and minimise customer churn. For our customers, Unlockd’s unique value exchange offer will reward them for viewing ads and content on their mobile devices. It will allow our customers to have more credit to stay in touch with friends, family, and their peers,” said Mohd Khairil Abdullah, CEO of Axiata Digital.

Asia Pacific is a key growth area for Unlockd, with GSMA estimating there are currently more than 2.5 billion unique mobile subscribers, with a forecast of 3.1 billion by 2020 and a penetration rate of 74 per cent.

According to eMarketer (April 2017), the strongest growth will take place in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, China, India and Vietnam—pushing the total smartphone penetration rate in Asia-Pacific to nearly one-third of the population.

Since its Series A raise Unlockd has launched in four major market for the Unlockd Connect product, first in the USA with Sprint Telecom subsidiary Boost Mobile, followed by UK with Tesco Mobile, then in the Caribbean with its largest telco, Digicel Group, and just a few weeks ago, Etisalat in the UAE. Unlockd’s second product vertical, Unlockd Stream, launched in 2017 with MTV and provides an ad and content funded platform for premium subscription content providers.

“The reason we all come to work at Unlockd every day is we’re passionate about changing the way people use and pay with their digital devices – and providing a significant value exchange for our partners, advertisers and of course to consumers. The successful partnership with Axiata and closing of the round means we are one step closer to achieving our mission of giving back $500m in Unlockd value to consumers by 2025,” says Berriman.

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