Indonesian Wealth Management Shake-Up

Akulaku's ambitions are not limited to the Indonesian market it dominates.

The Indonesian fintech startup Akulaku could shake up wealth management in Southeast Asia as consumer appetite for digital banking services intensifies amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

Akulaku is Indonesia’s largest online wealth management platform with roughly 6 million users and its annual transaction value reportedly stands at over $1.5 billion. Last year the company acquired Indonesian commercial bank BYB as part of its digital banking strategy in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.

But Akulaku is also training its sights on other banking services, including consumer finance, as the company expands its footprint in Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Large swathes of Southeast Asia’s population do not have access to conventional retail banking products, and analysts say the coronavirus could expedite wider adoption of mobile banking. Retail banking is perceived as expensive and Akulaku believes the market can be better served by digital banks, allowing conventional banks to focus on the more profitable wholesale and corporate banking sectors.

Still, the proliferation of apps and high penetration of mobile phones suggest this competitor is likely to increase pressure on margins and profits.