Indonesia lender BRI hires Telkom exec to boost fintech, to form VC unit

Indra Utoyo, director of BRI

State-owned lender Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) has appointed Indra Utoyo, a director for innovation and strategic portfolio at another state-owned firm Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom), as operational director.

Utoyo has been brought on board to oversee the lender’s current digital development, a bank’s official said.

Utoyo has been responsible for Telkom’s digital business development – including the firm’s VC arm MDI Ventures – over the past several years.

To further increase its pace in catching up with the digital world, BRI is also mulling over a plan to set up a venture capital unit geared to micro-businesses.

BRI deputy president director Sunarso stated that, as a bank, BRI must continue to adapt to challenges and changes in the market. “Boundaries are disappearing between the banking sector and the telecom sector,” he said, as quoted by Nikkei.

“BRI will stay focused on the micro, small and medium segments. Among the challenges in the fintech industry is how to lower prices by improving efficiency — which requires digitalisation.”

Indonesian major banks are realising that joining hands with the fintech sector is inescapable. And, BRI is the latest bank to join the race.

Bank Mandiri was among the first to launch its investment arm back in 2015. Since then, Mandiri Capital Indonesia (MCI) has invested in about 5-6 fintech startups, deploying around Rp 150 – 200 billion of capital per year.

In January this year, private lender Bank Central Asia (BCA) launched a venture capital business unit called Central Capital Ventura (CCV). It has committed Rp 200 billion ($15 million) for the initial stage. CCV, 100 per cent owned by BCA, will invest in and collaborate with fintech and supporting companies that will “support BCA’s financial service ecosystem as well as that of BCA’s subsidiaries, and who will give added value to BCA’s customers.”

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