Japanese media reviews Vietnam’s first unicorn firm

VNG is a gaming startup-turned-tech conglomerate that has become Vietnam's first unicorn.

According to the article, which discussed the firm’s bet on AI and overseas growth, VNG’s Zalo chat app has 62 million users, putting it behind only Facebook and YouTube in terms of popularity in the country, according to We Are Social. This makes it a rare example of a local player that has bested foreign rivals – in the rest of Southeast Asia, the most popular messaging apps are imports, such as Line or WhatsApp.

Zalo boasts 39 functions (when combined with the pay feature) that allow users to do everything from make in-store purchases and buy flight tickets to pay school fees and access government services. The app is also a gateway for numerous brands to connect with customers.

The article cited Vuong Quang Khai, executive vice president at VNG, as saying: "The next wave is AI. And we should invest."

In December, Zalo AI introduced Kiki for smart speakers, saying it was built on technology similar to Amazon's Alexa and Apple’s Siri, but in Vietnamese.

Zalo AI work ranges from facial recognition, used by Viet Capital Bank to verify clients, to Kiki's playlist, which was trained via the massive song library of another VNG business, Zing Music. A service to transcribe audio messages on Zalo chat is also under beta testing.

Meanwhile, Zalo is in talks with a leading dashboard company to unveil Kiki for the mass car market by the third quarter of 2021/..


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