WeLab and Indonesian conglomerate Astra International are launching a digital bank in Southeast Asia’s largest economy, according to a statement, in a bid to tap the country’s mobile-first growing middle-class and burgeoning small businesses.
PT Bank Jasa Jakarta, owned by Astra Financial and WeLab since 2022, launched the digital bank called Bank Saqu on Monday. The bank is intended to be a financial partner for individuals and SMEs.
Astra Financial is the financial services division of Astra International with 14 financial institutions under it serving over 24.7 million customers.
Bank Saqu is WeLab’s second digital bank in Asia. The company operates WeLab Bank and other online financial services in Hong Kong, Mainland China, and Indonesia with over 60 million individual users.
“We have greatly accelerated the delivery of this new digital bank system, from 18-24 months for most market players, to a record time of 6 months riding on our proven digital banking technology and know-how behind our first licensed digital bank in Hong Kong. Together with Astra, we look forward to leveraging our complementary strengths to propel the growth of Bank Saqu and contribute to the Indonesian banking industry digitalisation,” Founder and Group CEO of WeLab Simon Loong said in the statement.
The launch was slightly delayed, though. Loong told DealStreetAsia in October last year that WeLab, Astra, and their investors planned to invest more than $500 million in digital bank development in the country. At the time, he expected the new Indonesian digital bank to launch in the middle of 2023.
Bank Saqu has officially joined a slew of digital banks in Indonesia, mostly backed by conglomerates or big tech companies. With the presence of Astra, Bank Saqu claims to be able to tap local market insights while being supported by WeLab’s technological expertise.
Similar to other digital banks, Bank Saqu allows its customers to set up savings pockets. Bank Saqu, however, offers some specialisations such as a social savings product—which allows multiple people to save together; more people joining will merit more interest of up to 7% per annum—as well as reward programmes.