Indonesia’s first fintech unicorn OVO is bracing for some changes in its top deck.
Jason Thompson, the company’s chief executive officer, has put in his papers to join Partior, a Singapore-headquartered blockchain firm, jointly created by Temasek, DBS, JPMorgan.
Thompson’s last day in OVO was September 30.
With his departure, Jaygan Fu Ponnudurai, who was earlier the chief operating officer (COO) and chief commercial officer (CCO) at the Grab-backed company, will be taking over at the helm.
When contacted, Harumi Supit, a spokesperson at OVO, confirmed Thompson’s exit from the firm and cited reasons behind it as personal.
Thompson tendered his resignation to be with his family in Singapore, as the pandemic brought in restrictions on mobility and travel, said Supit. However, Thompson will continue to be the advisor for the company, he added.
“COVID-19 brought a new set of challenges and yet with it comes opportunities. I could see the team physically and mentally suffering. In truth, we all have suffered together and I vividly remember nearly breaking down in a one-to-one with Anthony. I was away from my beautiful children for 9 months and it hurt, like nothing I’ve experienced. We have also lost people, good people, to COVID-19”, Thompson wrote to OVO’s team in a letter, posted on his LinkedIn account.
In his new role as the CEO of Partior, however, Thompson is expected to drive the disruption of traditional cross-border payments. Established in April 2021, Partior is a blockchain-based clearing and settlement technology platform, that seeks to reduce the time taken to facilitate cross-border payments.
In a media release, Partior announced the appointment of Thompson along with Dmitry Avramenko who joins the firm as its Chief Technology Officer. Avramenko earlier worked as the chief technology officer with HSBC’s Hong Kong social payment platform, the PayMe e-wallet.
Thompson’s association with OVO and Grab has been rather long. Before joining the digital wallet, Thompson was one of the early people who helped built Grab Financial, being a part of its management. He worked as a senior managing director at Grab Financial from January 2017 and June 2020. Grab Financial Group was founded in 2018.
Along with his position in Grab Financial, Thompson was also appointed as the president director, and CEO of OVO in January 2018.
Before his stints at Grab and OVO, Thompson worked at Euronet Worldwide as its group managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and Asia – He led Euronet’s pay subsidiaries in some of those regions. He has also worked in Microsoft in Europe.
The new CEO Ponnudurai has also worked for Grab – he put in over 4 years in the company before joining OVO in June 2018.
During his tenure in Grab, he served as the Deputy Regional Head of two wheels business for Grabbike and GrabExpress.
Under Thompson’s management, OVO reported healthy financial numbers in 2020, even as it faced challenges with new norms being introduced on foreign investors’ voting rights and shareholding that, going forward, may make it difficult for the company to rely on a capital infusion from Grab.
Losses of the company narrowed to $205 million last year, compared with $369 million in 2019, show documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by its investor Grab in early August. However, it was still higher than the $123.16 million loss clocked in 2018.
Overall OVO saw a surge in transactions with the addition of new users last year. The company’s total payment value (TPV) in e-commerce grew by 110% between March and September 2020. This was led by a nearly 50% growth in lending disbursement and an over 15% TPV increase in food delivery transactions.
While the payment business unit is still the largest contributor to OVO’s revenue, the company has expanded to other financial services and products, including investments, insurance, and lending services.
OVO started off in 2017 as an e-wallet of the Indonesian conglomerate Lippo Group’s venture builder. It diversified into other fintech businesses in 2019. That year, the company acquired local fintech startup Taralite to venture into lending, and also took a stake in Bareksa to foray into mutual funds.
OVO continues to expand into more financial products. Besides forging a partnership with Prudential Indonesia for providing personal insurance, it has also teamed up with local insurance firm PT Asuransi Simas Insurtech for premium motorcycle insurance this year. The company has also launched a sharia-compliant mutual fund product managed by its investment management partner Syailendra Capital and Bareksa.