Mastercard helping accelerate financial inclusion in Southeast Asia

18:54 | 11/03/2020 Economy

Mastercard has announced that it will be the leading investor for the Indonesian fintech holding company Digiasia’s Series B funding round, providing both capital and strategic assistance as Digiasia looks to strengthen its suite of financial services that expand the ways individuals and MSMEs can take part in Southeast Asia’s growing digital economy.  

Digiasia is currently affiliated with several fintech companies in Indonesia: KasPro, an e-wallet and payment platform; KreditPro, a P2P lending and financing platform geared towards micro, small and medium-sized businesses that are underserved by traditional banks; and RemitPro, which offers efficient and secure remittances across both digital channels and through a network of offline agents, such as telecom companies, post offices and retailers. These services are all undergirded by a technological framework that provides security across transactions, guards against risky lending, and allows funds to be accessed and transacted in both digital and physical ways.

Chuah Teong Lee (General Counsel, Asia Pacific, Mastercard), Prashant Gokran (Co-Founder, Digiasia Bios), Ari Sarker (Co-President, Asia Pacific, Mastercard), Alexander Rusli (Co-Founder, Digiasia Bios), and Hendra Widjaja (Advisor, Digiasia Bios)

The investment comes at a time when the Indonesian government and its stakeholders are focused on driving financial inclusion in what is Southeast Asia’s largest economy. In fact, in markets right across the region, there has been a particular emphasis on the capacity of fintech to drive additional inclusion and economic opportunity. According to research conducted jointly by PwC, United Overseas Bank, and the Singapore Fintech Association, by the end of September 2019, US$1.4 billion worth of investments had been made into fintech businesses in ASEAN, with Vietnam being the second largest destination for these investments.

Digiasia has already developed a range of partnerships that help to integrate the digital economy into Indonesians’ day-to-day lives. The company is working with a number of transport operators to allow for easy payments for services, large vendors such as iRMA and Metrodata who can offer B2B sales financed by KreditPro, remittance companies like Western Union and Mandiri Syariah, and digitizing of supply chains by DistroPro. Through partnering with existing businesses such as these, Digiasia is able to connect the banked and unbanked, as well as those that are already digitally connected and those that aren’t yet online.

Cofounders of Digiasia Bios, Alexander Rusli and Prashant Gokarn, stated: “We are very proud to be working with Mastercard to build on our existing offering in order to increase financial inclusion in Indonesia. We’ve been steadfastly building a network of partners that helps our offering to connect with the broad financial needs of individuals and businesses, and with Mastercard on board, we now have the support of one of the world’s experts on digital commerce. We look forward to working together to expand our reach in Indonesia and to make a range of powerful financial services available to people of all backgrounds—no matter where they are socioeconomically, or how technologically connected they are”.

In addition to Mastercard’s financial investment, fintech companies that partner with Mastercard also have the benefit of being able to leverage the banking and business networks and cybersecurity expertise of one of the world’s leading payments technology companies.

In addition to working with fintech companies, Mastercard has been running educational programs in Southeast Asia, such as the Mastercard Academy 2.0, which seeks to foster financial inclusion by imparting essential digital knowledge and skills, as well as the Girls4Tech program, which encourages young girls to enter STEM fields.

Ngoc Han