WeLab, a fintech startup from Hong Kong, has acquired a 24% stake in PT Bank Jasa Jakarta to set up a digital bank that is expected to be operational in the second half of 2022. WeLab has raised USD 240 million from existing and new investors to fund the acquisition.
WeLab considers Indonesia’s market potential is attractive for the launching of a new digital bank, where around 77% of Indonesia’s total population remains underbanked, even unbanked, and the environment of the digital banks is still emerging. This step was also taken by WeLab following the existing footsteps of companies such as Gojek acquiring a stake in Bank Jago, and Sea acquiring the Bank Kesejahteraan Ekonomi.
WeLab had already set foot in Indonesia prior to this acquisition through a joint venture with PT Astra International. In 2018, it formed a joint venture with automobile distributor Astra International to operate Maucash, an online lending app, which currently has more than three million users.
Going forward, WeLab’s Hong Kong digital bank is also looking to launch wealth products, in addition to deposits, lending, and payments. It plans for its Indonesian entity to have the same services as in Hong Kong. WeLab is looking to build a pan-Asian digital bank and is also eyeing other markets in the region, namely Vietnam and Thailand.
(Sources: Forbes; The Business Times)