Ajaib: Democratizing Investments in Southeast Asia
By Army Tunjaicon, Cack Wilhelm, Eric Liaw, Jules Maltz, and Louisa Xu
One of the first lessons taught in Finance 101 is the value of compounding. According to Albert Einstein, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.” Investing can open a path to financial flexibility, yet due largely to a lack of access and education, the two most common ways Southeast Asians save their money are storing hard cash at home and bank deposits. Enter Ajaib. In less than two years, Ajaib has brought stock market access and financial literacy to over 1 million Indonesians, almost all of whom are entirely new to investing. With an opportunity to improve the lives of millions, we couldn’t be more excited to partner with Anderson, Yada, and the entire Ajaib Team and bring our expertise in scaling companies like Robinhood, Coinbase, Wise, and other hypergrowth consumer fintech companies around the globe to the table! Here are a few reasons why we invested:
Foundational Financial Platform for Emerging Economies
Southeast Asia is one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing regions in the world. Before the pandemic, Indonesia’s GDP was growing by over 5% a year and the percentage of the middle class had reached 20% of the overall population. In the past, stock trading was difficult to execute and reserved for high net worth individuals and investing was considered an activity for the rich and privileged. However, with over 100 million Indonesians expected to enter middle-class and mass affluent status in the next couple of years, Ajaib is an essential financial platform dedicated to educating and ramping first-time investors, a group that has traditionally been neglected. The current rate of stock ownership in Indonesia is only 1% while peers like India are at 4%, Malaysia at 9%, and Singapore at 26%. With a mobile-native, education-first approach and a focus on encouraging long-term investments, Ajaib is bridging the stock penetration rate between Indonesia and the rest of the world, growing as fast as some of our best US/Europe FinTech companies and supporting majority of all new stock accounts in Indonesia today.
Tremendous Expansion Potential
We believe stock trading is just the first of many services Ajaib can provide to the mass affluent demographic. There’s huge expansion potential for a technology-first platform including online banking services, such as direct deposits / saving accounts, debit / credit cards, gold, insurance, FX, and crypto trading, just to name a few. We see this theme across Asian tech platforms: Go-jek and Grab started with ride-sharing but have since moved into food delivery, package delivery, and grocery delivery. There’s also a tremendous opportunity for expansion within Southeast Asia. Thailand, Philippines, and Vietnam represent high potential, underpenetrated markets where no scaled fintech competitor exists. Ajaib has built its full-stack infrastructure in-house and has the first-mover opportunity to democratize investment access and enable greater financial freedom across all these markets.
Wonderful Founding Team
In English, “Ajaib” means “wonderful” and it was obvious after we got to know Anderson and Yada personally that the name wasn’t only meant for the product but also for the team. Anderson and Yada care deeply about the problem they are solving — the two left their lucrative and promising careers as top consultants to start Ajaib. Every person we’ve introduced to Anderson and Yada has given unanimous feedback that the pair are among the sharpest people they’ve met. For example, the team has kept technological and platform scale top of mind since Day 1 — something many FinTech apps hadn’t prioritized until it was almost too late — as evidenced in the successful support of Indonesia’s largest-ever IPO.
We’re not surprised that Anderson and Yada have built Indonesia’s fastest unicorn and the first fintech unicorn in Southeast Asia, and we know this is just the beginning.
Army Tunjaicon, Cack Wilhelm, Eric Liaw, Jules Maltz, and Louisa Xu are investors at IVP, a later-stage venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, CA.
Originally published at https://www.ivp.com on October 7, 2021.