In early December, Sea Group, the parent company of Shopee, was granted a digital full-banking license in Singapore, along with a Grab-Singtel consortium, in a move that is expected to open up the financial industry in the city-state.
Besides Singapore, Indonesia—Southeast Asia’s largest economy—is also a red hot market for fintech and digital banking. KrASIA has learnt that Sea Group likely acquired a local lender in the country to establish its own banking business. According to Shopee’s careers website, the company is currently hiring a local team to be placed at “SeaMoney Bank” in Jakarta and Bandung, covering roles that include talent management, tax, and funding relations management.
When asked by KrASIA, Sea Group declined to comment. The company also did not comment on its ramped-up recruitment in Jakarta and Bandung. The career page indicates that the new team will be placed in “SeaMoney – Bank BKE (part of Sea Group), located in Menteng, Central Jakarta area.” This suggests that the firm in question could be Bank Kesejahteraan Ekonomi (BKE), whose head office is situated in Menteng.
According to its website, Bank BKE was founded in 1992, and nearly 95% of its shares are owned by a company named Danadipa Artha Indonesia. There is scant public information about the shareholder, but Danadipa Artha Indonesia has one director named Intan Apriadi who also serves as a commissioner at Lentera Dana Nusantara, according to Apriadi’s LinkedIn profile. Lentera Dana Nusantara is a fintech company that operates ShopeePay Later. Consequently, Sea may have a direct line to Bank BKE through Danadipa Artha Indonesia.
According to an analyst familiar with the matter, digital banking in Indonesia progresses differently from the sector in Singapore. “While in Singapore, new fintech players are applying for a license to open a bank, in Indonesia, aspiring digital banks are acquiring local banks who already have licenses,” the person said.
Digital banking is the space to watch
It is currently unclear what kind of products Sea’s digital bank might offer in Indonesia. Shopee’s careers website only mentions that SeaMoney “enables and encourages innovation by providing a wide range of financial products and services for individuals and SMEs across the region.”
The analyst who spoke to KrASIA said that the new bank is likely to offer loans for sellers in Shopee’s ecosystem. “For tech firms like Shopee and Gojek, I expect that the banking service will assist people who are already in their ecosystem,” the person said. “For example, Gojek drivers are looking for car or motorcycle loans, or even housing loans. And we would probably see Sea’s bank offering products for Shopee sellers in the future.”
As the fintech sector matures, digital banking will be the space to watch in Indonesia. Other tech firms are already positioning themselves in the market. Gojek recently invested in Bank Jago through its payments and financial services arm, which owns around 22% of the lender. In 2019, fintech firm Akulaku acquired Bank Yudha Bhakti, which was renamed as Bank Neo Commerce last year.