Mandiri Capital CEO calls e-payments a ‘cash-burning exercise’

Mandiri Capital Indonesia CEO Eddi Danusaputro

The venture capital arm of PT Bank Mandiri thinks electronic payment platforms will only ever be profitable by serving as gateways to more lucrative services. Otherwise, they’re “just a cash-burning exercise,” said Eddi Danusaputro, chief executive officer of PT Mandiri Capital Indonesia.

The race for customers in Indonesia is so intensive that e-payment providers have been willing to offer steep enticement discounts, calculating that the immediate cash hit is worth it in order to secure a bigger market share, said the CEO in an interview.

In Jakarta, services like Gojek’s GoPay and Grab Holdings Inc.-backed Ovo have been dealing out purchase discounts and cashback as high as 50% and sometimes even 90%, none of which is sustainable in the eyes of the Mandiri Capital CEO, which has itself invested in LinkAja, another competitor in this crowded field.

“Nobody makes money from e-wallets,” Danusaputro said. Seller fees are “coming down, gone are the days of 2% or 3%. The banks are making money from the funding side and savings or checking accounts of the merchants.” For them to survive, e-wallet services have to direct users to more profitable ventures, said the CEO, such as by cross-selling financial service products like mutual funds, stocks or insurance products.

Mandiri Capital said that LinkAja’s alternative e-payments approach is to pursue fees from various public-utility transactions such as toll roads, train tickets and health-care payments — all areas where the competition is less intense.

Formed four years ago, Mandiri Capital now manages $100 million of funds, invested mostly in 13 startups. The venture capital firm will set aside 90 billion rupiah ($6.4 million) next year for new investments and follow-up funding. It has recorded unrealized gains of nearly 300% since its inception.

Bloomberg

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.

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

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  • 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. 
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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.