JAKARTA – An Islamic fintech platform under Ethis Group and another affiliated to it have received licences to operate in Indonesia, giving the company that started in Singapore confidence to grow them rapidly in 2020.
Property crowdfunder Ethis Crowd and SME financing peer-to-peer platform Kapital Boost, which is affiliated to Ethis Group, are now licensed to operate by the Financial Services Authority (OJK).
Both platforms already operate in other markets. Ethis Crowd was the first Islamic equity crowdfunder to be licensed in Malaysia in May before also getting a licence to operate in Dubai, and Kapital Boost has been run from Singapore.
Ethis Crowd's and Kapital Boost's Indonesia licences kicked in at the end of October, two years after the company first applied for them, Ronald Yusuf Wijaya, founder of Ethis Group and CEO of Ethis Indonesia told Salaam Gateway.
"We've been operating [Ethis Crowd] for around three years and about 98% of [its portfolio is here in Indonesia. With registered status, we can be more agile and penetrate the market in a more aggressive way,” said Ronald.
Ethis Crowd can now push for a wider local investor pool, he added.
Ethis Crowd has disbursed more than 200 billion Indonesian rupiah ($14.25 million) in financing to more than 8,000 subsidised or social housing development projects up to the end of October, according to Ronald.
This year alone, its financing has grown faster than its cumulative 2-year growth since the platform started operating in 2017, Ronald said.
Kapital Boost provides murabahah asset financing, a cost plus profit structure, to mostly Indonesian small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) but derives most of its investor pool from Singapore.
The P2P platform that started in 2015 has channelled around 10 million Singapore dollars ($7.36 million) in financing to SMEs, Ronald told Salaam Gateway.
Kapital Boost is run by CEO Erly Witoyo and is affiliated to Ethis Group but is not owned by it, clarified Ronald. The platform counts one of Ethis Group's founders, Umar Munshi, as Advisor.
AIMING FOR RAPID GROWTH
Ethis is now aiming for rapid growth for the two platforms, up to five times for Ethis Crowd and three times for Kapital Boost.
“We are not just aiming to access the local investor pool but also foreign investors,” said Ronald.
“With the licence, [we’ll show investors] we have more accountability and credibility to convince them or to persuade more local investors.”
It took Ethis Group around two years to get the licence for both Ethis Crowd and Kapital Boost, said Ronald, as there were a lot of adjustments that needed to be made to meet OJK regulation No. 77/2016.
The company first needed to apply for a recommendation from the national-level Shariah committee, Dewan Syariah Nasional-Majelis Ulama Indonesia (DSN-MUI), that their underlying contracts for financing align with the six allowed under DSN-MUI’s fatwa No. 117/ DSN-MUI/II/2018.
These are based on the fee-based agency structure wakalah bil-ujrah and cover factoring, purchase order financing, online seller financing, payment gateway financing, employee financing and community-based financing.
Ethis then waited for the OJK to review the two platforms.
Ethis Group has now applied for a different licence for the two platforms that will allow them to partner with bigger institutions such as banks. The process could take up to 12 months under OJK regulation No. 77/2016.
FINTECH FOR FINANCIAL INCLUSION
There are currently more than 70 Islamic fintech platforms awaiting licenses from the OJK, including Syarfi, SyarQ, Danakoo Syariah, Kandang.in, Goolive, Kerjasama.com, IjabQabul.id, InvesProperti.id, Hijrah, igrowchain, afteroil, biru, ifunding, Alami Sharia, Investree Syariah, Qazwa, Duha Syariah, and Bsalam, according to Ronald who is also chairperson of Indonesia’s Shariah Fintech Association (AFSI).
Kapital Boost joins two other Islamic P2P lenders, Berkah and Papitupi, to receive licences at the end of October. The other Islamic P2P lenders already licensed are Ammana Fintek Syariah and Dana Syariah Indonesia that were approved last year.
The Indonesian government sees fintech platforms as a way to increase financial inclusion for MSMEs.
In September, the director of the National Islamic Finance Committee (KNKS) told Salaam Gateway the country’s Islamic fintech roadmap will be launched in the third quarter of 2020. Afdhal Aliasar said Islamic fintech is growing so quickly in Indonesia that the government wants to ensure its development is implemented “in a good way”.
Total lending by fintech platforms reached 2.65 trillion rupiah ($189 million) in September from 1.55 trillion rupiah at the end of December, according to OJK data.
Shariah-compliant platforms were responsible for 2.5%, equivalent to 66.99 billion rupiah ($4.78 million) in financing, from 2.33 billion rupiah at the end of 2018.
(Reporting by Yosi Winosa, Editing by Emmy Abdul Alim firstname.lastname@example.org)
*This story has been corrected throughout on November 4 to reflect that Kapital Boost is affiliated to Ethis Group but is not owned by Ethis Group.
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