Kakaobank to acquire 10% stake of Southeast Asian digital-focused Superbank

Bomi Yoon

Superbank President Director Tigor M. Siahaan, left, and KakaoBank CEO Yun Ho-young / Courtesy of KakaoBank

By Lee Yeon-woo

KakaoBank is making a long-anticipated entry into the Southeast Asian market through a strategic partnership with Grab Holdings Limited, operator of the region’s largest super app, Grab.

As part of this partnership, KakaoBank announced its intention to acquire a 10 percent stake in PT Super Bank Indonesia, commonly known as Superbank. The digital-focused bank in Indonesia is supported by a consortium that includes Grab and is fast becoming a notable player in the Indonesian financial market. This represents KakaoBank’s inaugural overseas investment.

Superbank anticipates that KakaoBank will apply its vast experience to its products and services, leveraging its established domestic progress in digital finance and platform expertise. This collaboration also aims to deepen KakaoBank’s understanding of the Southeast Asian market and its customers.

Despite Indonesia being the world’s fourth-most-populous country with a population of 270 million, half of its residents aged over 15 lack banking accounts, according to a World Bank report. This shortfall is attributed to the challenges of providing physical banking services across its 18,000 islands. However, the nation sees vast potential in digital banking, especially as cellphone penetration is expected to exceed 100 percent.

Therefore, KakaoBank is keen on forging multifaceted collaborations with Grab. Drawing from KakaoBank’s expertise in digital finance and Grab’s established success in Southeast Asia, both companies are working together to elevate the user experience by integrating their services. Joint ventures in business and technological development are also on the horizon.

“Beginning with this investment, we intend to explore ways to establish a network of international digital-centric banks through strategic collaboration in both service and technology,” said Yun Ho-young, CEO of KakaoBank. “As KakaoBank receives attention as a pioneering model in the future of banking, we are committed to ensuring our medium- and long-term growth by pursuing diverse opportunities.”

“We are honored for the trust from KakaoBank, as the leading digital bank in their market with a tremendous track record,” said Tigor M. Siahaan, president director of Superbank. “This partnership not only bolsters Superbank’s capabilities but also brings us closer to our mission of serving the financial needs of the underbanked communities.”

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