Guest post: Ant Financial puts $40m in Akulaku

After a few months of talks, it seems that Ant Financial has finally decided to put some money into Akulaku, a fintech lending company with most of its business in Indonesia but has recently branched out to Vietnam & the Philippines.

The US$40 million that Ant Financial is putting in will value the company at US$450m. This came in quick succession after the previous round led by Beijing-based Finup.

Disruptor or aggressor

Akulaku is probably the best-known disruptor in Indonesia’s fintech space. It started off as Silvrr offering remittance services to overseas workers in Hong Kong. As the fintech lending in China picked up, Silvrr pivoted into instalment for electronics and chose Indonesia as its market. Of course, the name also needed to be changed, to very nicely local sounding Akulaku.

As a Chinese company, Akulaku is seen by many as a disruptor in Indonesia’s nascent fintech lending space. Its tactics were aggressive and it obtained a multi-finance licence through acquisition.

It grew fast. Of course, for any fintech lending company to sustain fast growth, it needs lending capital, which explains why Akulaku needed to not only raise more and more rounds of funding but also plug in many other sources of leverage.

Will Akulaku prevail?

In comparison, its main rival (if it considers so), Kredivo, is more prudent in its tactics (and thus grew more slowly in comparison).

Only time will tell which model will prevail, but our take is that the two will converge, and whichever company that adapts faster will own a bigger share of the market.

And the market is big enough for multiple players to thrive – in China, a number of credit instalment companies are publicly listed. However, in terms of scale, most of them pale in front of Huabei & Jiebei, virtual credit and micro-cash loan products offered by Ant Financial.

Ant investments

Talking about Ant Financial, their strategy in Southeast Asia is taking shape. Alipay is accepted across tourist spots in multiple countries; Lazada’s Hellopay has been taken over by Alipay, and it has invested in or built JVs with e-wallet companies in multiple countries.

In addition, using the usual Alibaba tactic, it also scans through the market to see which player that has a potential in any of the consumer fintech sectors, and makes investments in them. We are talking about Mdaq, BluePay, now Akulaku, and probably more to come.

This post originally appeared on The Low Down blog. It has been republished here with permission from Momentum Works.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.