Facebook in Talks over Mobile Money in Indonesia

Facebook in Talks over Mobile Money in Indonesia

Three Indonesian digital fintech firms are working with Facebook to apply for regulatory approval to launch mobile payments in the country, an official at the financial regulator said.

The plan, if approved, could be among the first under the social media firm’s unified payment service, Facebook Pay, which it unveiled in November. Users across its various platforms, including WhatsApp and Instagram, can make payments without exiting the app.

Bank Indonesia assistant governor Filianingsih Hendarta, who heads payment system policy, told Reuters that three local firms had approached the regulator to ask about tentative approval for a payments partnership with Facebook.

“So far no-one submitted the formal application. Some of them just came to discuss during the consultative meeting with Bank Indonesia,” Hendarta said.

Facebook Pay. Image: The Verge
Facebook Pay. Image: The Verge


She said the three e-wallet operators are Indonesian ride hailing firm Gojek’s GoPay; fintech start-up OVO, which is owned by Indonesian conglomerate Lippo Group and is also backed by Singapore-based riding hailing firm Grab; and state-backed LinkAja.

Four sources with knowledge of the matter said Facebook wants to capitalise on the Indonesian market and is preparing for regulatory approval in the country. Reuters reported in August that Facebook’s WhatsApp had been in talks with these firms to launch digital payment services in Indonesia.

A spokesperson for Facebook said the company is seeking to bring digital payments to more countries and believes “digital payments will ... open up extraordinary opportunities for businesses to grow”. She added: “We are in conversations with partners in Indonesia. However, the discussions are ongoing and we do not have anything further to share at this stage.” 

OVO CEO Jason Thompson said: “As an open ecosystem platform, we’re always seeking new partnerships to increase cashless transactions ... including with Facebook.” Gojek declined to comment. LinkAja was not immediately available for comment.

Ovo. Image:
Ovo. Image:


Facebook is keen to accelerate its expansion in Southeast Asia. Indonesia, home to 260-million people and the region’s largest economy, is one of the largest markets globally for Facebook and WhatsApp, with more than 100-million users.

Facebook is also in separate talks to partner with Gojek, which counts Alphabet’s Google and Chinese e-commerce among its backers, two sources said.

“The talks could lead either to a strategic partnership, a collaboration or an investment,” one person with knowledge of the matter said. The talks, which predate the coronavirus outbreak, are at an early stage.

Elsewhere in Asia, Facebook has held talks to buy a multibillion-dollar stake in Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries’ telecom unit, media reports said. Gojek declined to comment. Facebook referred Reuters to its general statement.

Having evolved from a ride-hailing service founded in 2010 to a one-stop app offering online payments, food ordering and even massage services, Gojek is valued at $10bn.

Source : Reuters

Indah Gilang Pusparani

Indah is a researcher at Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan Penelitian dan Pengembangan Daerah Kota Cirebon (Regional Development Planning and Research Agency of Cirebon Municipality). She covers More international relations, tourism, and startups in Southeast Asia region and beyond. Indah graduated from MSc Development Administration and Planning from University College London, United Kingdom in 2015. She finished bachelor degree from International Relations from University of Indonesia in 2014, with two exchange programs in Political Science at National University of Singapore and New Media in Journalism at Ball State University, USA. She was awarded Diplomacy Award at Harvard World Model United Nations and named as Indonesian Gifted Researcher by Australian National University. She is Researcher at Regional Planning Board in Cirebon, West Java. She previously worked as Editor in Bening Communication, the Commonwealth Parliament Association UK, and diplomacy consulting firm Best Delegate LLC in USA. Less
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