The company’s flagship business is its AI and big data analytics solutions provider Advance.ai, which uses AI to offer digital identity verification, fraud detection, and credit scoring services. However, the company’s real money-spinner, and what was probably the biggest draw for investors, is its consumer-facing business, Atome Financial. The company’s two subsidiaries—peer-to-peer lending platform Kredit Pintar and buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) service, Atome—have been wildly successful.
Since its launch in September 2017, Kredit Pintar has facilitated the disbursal of more than US$1.5 billion. Atome, meanwhile, has spread like wildfire since its inception in December 2019. Barely known even a year ago, it has now partnered with over 5,000 online and offline retailers, seen its team swell to over 600 employees, and expanded to nine markets across Asia.
Today, Atome is a common payment option at checkout counters, both physically and digitally, across well-known brands such as Sephora, Adidas, and Pomelo.
Advance.ai powers Atome Financial’s twin cash cows
Unsurprisingly, Atome Financial has galloped ahead of its enterprise-facing sibling, Advance.ai. According to Venture Cap Insights, Atome Financial recorded a revenue of US$166 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, and positive earnings before interest and tax ( EBIT) of US$1.3 million.
On the other hand, Advance.ai has not yet turned EBIT positive. Indeed, while Atome Financial’s twin cash cows are powered by Advance.ai, the latter currently isn’t worth much without the former. “Without Advance.ai, their lending products are not going to work.
But that AI technology by itself probably doesn’t have much value,” an investor, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Ken. Atome Financial even scored one of the largest fintech deals to date with StanChart in October, which will see the financial institution providing US$500 million in financing to the business.
BNPL is also being considered by Malaysia’s central bank
Together, they aim to develop BNPL services and digital lending products. According to the investor quoted above, while Kredit Pintar is a fast-growing business, the really exciting prospect is Atome.
However, while BNPL is one of the hottest sectors in Southeast Asia at the moment, headwinds are incoming. The sector, which has seen lax (if any) regulation so far, is now on the radars of the region’s governments. In its home base of Singapore, the financial regulatory authority—MAS—is mulling over a regulatory framework for the sector, given its growing popularity. Similarly, Malaysia’s central bank is also looking at bringing BNPL under its ambit as early as 2022.
These moves could put Atome under greater scrutiny, potentially throwing up operational barriers for Advance Intelligence’s golden goose.