Open finance startup Ayoconnect’s APIs enable financial inclusion in Southeast Asia • australiabusinessblog.com

Focused on Southeast Asia, AyoconnectAPIs make it faster for companies to launch new financial services, rather than having to build their own technical infrastructure. It is also licensed by the Central Bank of Indonesia, which allows it to offer more services. The open finance startup announced today that it has closed a $13 million Series B renewal round led by SIG Venture Capital, with the participation of CE Innovation Capital and recurring investor PayU, Prosus’ payment and fintech business. This brings the total amount raised to $43 million, including the oversubscribed first tranche of its Series B, which was run by Tiger Global and closed in January 2022.

Founded in 2016, with a team of approximately 250 people, Ayoconnect is currently working towards greater financial inclusion for Indonesian consumers and SMEs. It works with regulators and incumbent banks and was recently licensed by the Bank of Indonesia (BI) Payment Service Provider Category 1. Ayoconnect says it is the only open finance player in Indonesia licensed by the central bank.

Ayoconnect’s new funding will be used for executive hiring and Ayoconnect’s product and technology, including new payment, data and banking solutions and new APIs for account opening and card issuing.

The startup recently launched direct debits with seven of Indonesia’s largest banks (Mandiri, BRI, BNI, CIMB Niaga, Danamon, Bank Syariah Indonesia and Bank Neo Commerce). This allows Ayoconnect’s customers to use the direct debit API and to make periodic debits from customers’ savings accounts at multiple banks.

Before starting Ayoconnect, founder and CEO Jakob Rost was a managing director at Lazada. After leaving Lazada, he lived in Indonesia for several years, seeing how the country could benefit from greater digital financial inclusion. For example, it is the fourth largest country in the world by population, but about half of the people don’t have a bank account, he said. It also has a complicated geography, resulting in weak financial infrastructure, fragmentation and less standardization in the banking sector. In addition, Rost added, consumer-oriented companies in Indonesia lack the digital financial infrastructure to manage their own finances while serving customers.

Ayoconnect has raised funds again so soon after the initial close of its Series B as it grew rapidly and also secured key strategic partnerships after receiving its BI license. Rost said the new capital will strengthen Ayoconnect’s balance sheet and prepare it for future growth in the coming years.

The platform now serves 200 API customers, including major banks, financial institutions, tech unicorns and fintechs, and offers more than 4,000 embedded finance products. The APIs span two categories: Open Banking APIs and Payment Services APIs, aiming to build the most complete open finance stack in Southeast Asia.

Some examples of financial services launched by Ayoconnect’s customers are the above-mentioned: automatic collectionembedded finance (it partnered with PT. Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI), Indonesia’s state-owned railway company) to develop new ticketing and productivity features in the KAI Access mobile app, which allows users to purchase cell phone credit, internet data plans, and electricity tokens). It also partnered with Bank Syariah, Indonesia’s largest Islamic bank, to add new digital and mobile capabilities with the aim of more financial inclusion and economic growth for its clients.

Other Southeast Asian startups in the open finance space include Brick, Finverse, Brankas, and Finantier as competitors? One way Ayoconnect differentiates itself is by being the only licensed open finance platform in Indonesia, enabling it to provide solutions not yet available on the market.

“While open banking and open finance are fairly well established in Europe and the US, the industry in Southeast Asia is still very young, but growing rapidly. In Indonesia, hundreds of millions are embracing new digital services, while many still lack access to basic financial services such as bank accounts,” Rost said.

“As such, there is a huge potential for open financing in the region and a lot of opportunities for the sector to grow further. We were very excited to see the activity in space and to play a role in helping to move the ecosystem forward.”

In a statement, Akshay Bajaj of SIG Venture Capital said the Ayoconnect team “has been using high volume APIs for years and is incredibly well positioned to help clients launch compelling and profitable use cases quickly and securely. As a result of its growing capabilities, Ayoconnect continues to experience strong and growing demand from banks and API customers. We love their vision and believe they have the potential to transform and improve the future of payments in Southeast Asia.”

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