Tapping the B2C gold mine In 2017, even as Advance.ai was still finding its footing, its investors encouraged Chen to launch a consumer-facing business. This, they believed, was where the real growth lay. The company’s first stab at the B2C world came in the form of peer-to-peer lending platform Kredit Pintar.
Today, Kredit Pintar is one of Indonesia’s leading digital lending apps. With over 20 million downloads, it has disbursed over USD$1.5 billion in loans, the company claims. “Kredit Pintar grew very fast.
In addition to Advance.ai and Kredit Pintar, the company wanted to expand its business.
The timing was right—it was the early days of the P2P boom in Indonesia,” said the executive quoted above. “They were very aggressive in customer acquisition and accumulated a lot of customers. They took the methodology from China, where, in the early days of consumer lending, customer acquisition will be cheap.
You can accumulate lots of customers and [retain] the good ones. The good ones are the ones where you can increase the credit limit and repeatedly give loans to them,” the investment executive added. Chen, however, was eager to expand the business beyond Advance.ai and Kredit Pintar.
It also offers Atome, a brand new BNPL service.
In December 2019, the company announced the formation of Atome Financial—its consumer business brand—which would house Kredit Pintar as well as its brand new BNPL service Atome.
According to the investor quoted earlier, Chen had seen the BNPL model taking root worldwide. Instances like Klarna, the European BNPL giant now valued at US$46 billion, and Australia’s Afterpay, which was acquired by financial services giant Square for US$29 billion had piqued his interest.
“He said he was going to go big into it,” said the unnamed investor. Atome’s timing couldn’t have been more fortuitous. It launched in December 2019, shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill. With e-commerce becoming increasingly popular as stores shut and people were holed up at home, both shoppers and store-owners wanted an easy, frictionless payment option. Enter, Atome.
China is one of the most widespread BNPL players geographically.
Over the course of 2020, Atome—which splits a bill into three interest-free payments—saw a 198X increase in monthly orders, with monthly app downloads rising 22X. Mobile traffic to merchant partners’ websites through the Atome app rose 71X through 2020. Today, the platform has operations across Southeast Asia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China, making it one of the most widespread BNPL players in terms of geographical presence.