Gobi Partners leads $24m funding in Indonesian fintech startup SuperAtom

Gobi Partners co-founder and managing partner Thomas Tsao at DEALSTREETASIA's Asia PE-VC Summit 2016 in Singapore.

Southeast Asian fintech startup SuperAtom has secured a $24 million funding, led by Gobi Partners through the Meranti ASEAN Growth Fund with Chinese phone-app maker Cheetah Mobile as a co-investor.

Founded in 2018, SuperAtom is a startup incubated by and spun off from NYSE-listed Cheetah Mobile.

The company aims to make financial services more accessible to the masses by integrating global resources: taking low-cost funds from more mature markets such as Europe, Japan, Singapore, and the US, and combining them with proven technology and business models from China, and then localizing them for Southeast Asian markets such as Indonesia.

In building its operation SuperAtom leverages Cheetah’s existing presence in Indonesia, and the region. In Southeast Asia, Cheetah claims to have around 60 million monthly active mobile internet users, half of which are in Indonesia.

In addition, Cheetah Mobile will contribute the use of its global user traffic and its big data platform, which will enable SuperAtom to develop a risk management system for the company’s businesses.

Fintech lending services have only been around in Southeast Asia since 2016 but is set to play a much larger role. In Indonesia alone, the financial inclusion gap is estimated to be $57 billion, according to research done by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). In 2017, the total amount of loan disbursements through fintech lending stood at $274 million that has grown to more than US$1 billion in 2018.

The huge opportunity has attracted interest from many companies, resulting in the lending space to become by far the most crowded fintech subsector in Indonesia.

Last year, SuperAtom became one of over 100 registered players in the country after it received official approval to operate in Indonesia from Otoritas Jasa Keuangan (OJK), Indonesia’s Monetary Authority. The company subsequently collaborated with local banks and financial institutions to launch UangMe, a P2P consumer lending platform.

Beyond Indonesia, the company says it has also obtained a financial license in the Philippines and is preparing to enter the country, to make it the second Southeast Asian market for SuperAtom.

“Southeast Asia is now fast approaching that turning point, where FinTech will start to take off. Countries like Indonesia will see GDP per capita grow from US$3,800 to US$7,000 in the next ten years, so the market potential is enormous. Beyond Indonesia, Philippines is also a very attractive market as it has a population of 100 million, and their GDP is growing at 6.2%,” said SuperAtom founder Scarlett Xiao, who is also a co-founder of Cheetah Mobile.

The funding closed by SuperAtom puts it in the category of top-funded fintech startups in the region. Other players that have raised a notable amount of investment include Softbank and Sequoia-backed Funding Societies, which garnered $25 million in its Series B funding round last year, and Kredivo which secured a $30 million for its Series B funding.

The largest announced funding raised by a Southeast Asia fintech startup to date is the $70 million last year, led by Chinese fintech firm FinUp and joined by Sequoia India, Australia’s Blue Sky and Qiming Venture Partners.