At a time when financial technology is shaking up the financial services industry in big ways, WeLab, a Hong Kong fintech unicorn, has announced the acquisition of PT Bank Jasa Jakarta (BJJ), an Indonesian commercial bank, with the intention of building its second digital bank in Asia.
FinTech solutions are providing exciting opportunities that enable banks to operate more efficiently, and WeLab plans the fresh acquisition to enable it to open a digital bank to serve the country’s large unbanked population.
The acquisition comes a consortium led by WeLab successfully raised $240 million funding to buy the Indonesian bank and grow its digital banking operation. It also follows the successful launch of WeLab Bank in Hong Kong.
The WeLab move marks the second emergence of a Hong Kong home-grown fintech unicorn into Asia’s virtual financial services industry.
According to the consortium called WeLab Sky Group, it purchased a majority position in Bank Jasa Jakarta (BJJ) to establish a digital banking platform that delivers branchless financial services to around 77 per cent of the country’s 270 million inhabitants.
“With over 180 million tech-savvy young customers, Indonesia presents a great potential for us to deliver digital banking services to individuals who are now unable to obtain any financial services.”Simon Loong, co-founder and CEO of WeLab
WeLab Sky has already acquired a 24 per cent stake in the bank, and the remaining shares will be transferred once regulatory approvals are obtained.
Bank Jasa Jakarta has been based in Jakarta for over 40 years. It has 11 commercial bank offices in the Indonesian capital that serve its customers as well as small and medium-sized businesses.
WeLab CEO, Simon Loong stated that the company intends to allow BJJ to maintain its traditional branch network while also assisting the company in expanding its digital banking services next year.
WeLabs journey digital banking journey
Backed by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-TOM Shing’s group, WeLab last year launched its first digital bank in Hong Kong, a global financial hub.
The company presently offers a number of consumer fintech products across Asia, including a virtual bank and a loan product in its home city. It also provides a number of other sorts of lending services in mainland China and Indonesia.
According to the company, it supplies traditional financial institutions with technological enabling services and has over 150,000 unique digital banking customers.
The company’s Southeast Asian lending app, Maucash, which it developed in a joint venture with Astra International, has over three million Indonesian customers.
The digital economy is growing in Indonesia, and tech businesses have been fighting for the attention of Indonesia’s tech-savvy youth.
According to reports, the gross merchandise value of online shopping is expected to quadruple to $124 billion by 2025, up from $44 billion last year and $8 billion in 2015.
The WeLab sky group plans to expand in the Greater Bay Area as well as Southeast Asian nations such as Thailand and Vietnam, according to the company.
Speaking about the acquisition, the president of the Indonesian Bank, Jasa Jakarta, says it’s a welcome development because the bank can’t continue to operate in its traditional ways for much longer.
“We’re excited to welcome WeLab as the new shareholder to bring BJJ into the new digital banking era. BJJ has been undergoing digital transformation since 2018, and this strategic initiative is aligned with our commitment and vision of offering digital banking services to more customers. ”Handrie Wirawan, president and director of BJJ, made the announcement in a statement.
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