1. Startup

Understanding Fintech Challenges and Opportunities amid Recession

Learn from CCO Payments of OVO, Jaygan Fu Ponnudurai and Chief Risk of Asetku Jimmi Adhe Kharisma in #SelasaStartup

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has finally brought Indonesia officially into a row of countries experiencing a recession. The Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) recorded a growth of minus 3.49 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on an annual basis (Year-on-Year/YoY).

This condition claims an alert for all the business sectors in Indonesia, considering that not a few have been affected by Covid-19. Business people, large to small, have struggled to survive this situation over the past few months.

How do fintech players run business in times of recession? See in full the interesting explanation from CCO Payments of OVO Jaygan Fu Ponnudurai and Chief Risk of Asetku Jimmi Adhe Kharisma in the following #SelasaStartup session.

Trend for consumer behavior and business impact

Pandemic triggers changes in consumer behavior in transactions. This trend applies worldwide, including in Indonesia. For OVO and Asetku, shifting from offline to online has a positive and negative impact on their business.

Based on company data, Jaygan admitted that there was a significant increase in food ordering (Grab Food) and online shopping (Tokopedia). Because of this shift, consumers tend to be promo-centric and cost-centric.

"We do see a decline, but it's not as bad as we thought. We are trying to reach [the target] that we have corrected. Currently, we see that people are getting used to [transacting online] during the pandemic," he said.

Meanwhile, Asetku, who plays in P2P lending, admitted that he experienced an increase in Non-Performing Loans (NPL) as a result of business difficulties during the PSBB period. As of September 2020, the company noted that the NPL of My Assets increased to 8.27% from the average NPL before the pandemic of 1% -2%.

Jimmi even saw an increase in the number of lenders rather than borrowers on his platform. According to him, this happened due to several factors, such as changes in consumer behavior in shopping, a decline in the JCI, tightening borrower criteria, and government initiatives to restructure debt.

"We see that the demand for borrowers has increased, so we have tightened the criteria. In addition, consumer loans have also increased because of the shifting behavior. Consumers often shop online," he said.

Mitigation act

With the current situation, business players have started to secure the business and keep the runway long by mitigating both in terms of cost efficiency and re-evaluating their future strategies.

Both Jaygan and Jimmi claim to be efficient in their business by cutting unnecessary costs. In the Asetku case, his party took mitigation steps according to the government's initiative to restructure.

However, according to Jimmi, one thing that should be underlined is to continue to observe trends in existing consumer behavior. According to him, it is important to understand this so that the company can continue to channel and maybe even increase loans to existing borrowers.

Meanwhile, Jaygan assessed the importance of understanding consumers to maintain the relevance of his services in the future. His party even evaluated a number of collaborations with several partners because they became irrelevant during a pandemic, for example with malls.

"This is all about optimizing what we spend, the difficult thing is to grow revenue lines and stay relevant to our consumers, especially when the promo period ends. That's why we build risk mitigation, it takes time being customer centric,” he said.

Opportunities for SMEs to drive cashless

On the other hand, the pandemic is recognized as a momentum to accelerate a cashless society, especially since there are still many people in Indonesia who depend on cash. One of the most highlighted segments of MSME players is considered to be the most affected by the pandemic.

For Jaygan, this situation is an opportunity to encourage the penetration of QRIS features throughout Indonesia through the MSME segment, such as merchants in the market. According to company data, there are OVO merchant partners from this segment that are affected.

"Before the pandemic, we acquired MSMEs in Indonesia, for example with Pujasera. Because many were affected by the pandemic, we tried to convert merchants from offline to online with Tokopedia and Grab so that their business would continue," he said. Now he sees an increasing trend of additional users outside Java who have been identified as being cash centric.

Meanwhile, as mentioned earlier, said Jimmi, his party continues to strive to accommodate loans to the MSME segment, especially for merchants selling on e-commerce platforms that are partners.

"The SMEs loan is not large, around Rp. 5-15 million. With KYC, algorithms, and mitigation measures, we are trying to accommodate their loans because this segment is untouched by banks, ”he explained.

Recession: Challenge or Opportunity?

Personally, Jaygan considered that a recession due to a prolonged pandemic has become a kind of reality check in running a business. He learned to think carefully before executing something.

According to him, this could be a good implication or not in the future. "If there was no reality check, we would have just spent, not necessarily we could come up with new products or think about new market segments," said Jaygan.

Meanwhile, Jimmi did not see this recession as a brutal challenge for fintech players, but a learning moment to be able to sustain a business. Moreover, he said, Indonesia was not the first to face this situation. Indonesia experienced economic crises in 1998 and 2008.

"The definition of economy is very broad, of course this situation can be an opportunity to learn because we have experienced crises before," he added.

Original article is in Indonesian, translated by Kristin Siagian

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