On November 28 2018, Oriente, a fintech company based in Hong Kong, announced that it received an initial funding of $105M. The operative word being “initial”. Orient stresses that this is one of the largest amounts of initial funding raised by a fintech company worldwide.
The founding team comprises of perfect figures. Oriente was started by Geoffrey Prentice, co-founder and former chief strategy officer of Skype. He left Skype in 2007 and set up Atomico, a venture-capital firm whose assets under management exceeds $2 billion. One of its investment you may be familiar with is Rovio, the Finnish game maker of Angry Birds.
Geoffrey Prentice has long been concerned about the Asian market and when he had the idea of starting a business, he first approached Hubert Tai and said, “the financial problems in Southeast Asia are bigger than those in China dealt by LU.com. Let’s handle it together.”
He then attracted Lawrence Chu, one of LU.com’s investors, to join in. (In 2015, LU.com completed a round of financing totalling $485 million, led by BlackPine, of which Lawrence Chu was the founder.)
Oriente was founded in 2017. Just within one year, Oriente has set up offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei, Manila, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City with more than 1,200 employees.
Founder of a top technology company & LU.com executive team with practical experience in China & HR director with e-commerce background in southeast Asia & offices all over southeast Asia, it is obvious that Oriente wants to replicate LU.com in Asia.
Investment in this round were from founders and family businesses, mainly Malaysia’s Berjaya Group, the Philippines’ JG Summit Holdings and Indonesia’s Sinar Mas.
The three investors have something in common: they are all top local conglomerates, and are all founded by Chinese entrepreneurs. For example, Tan Sri Vincent Tan, the founder of success group, acquired the franchise right of McDonald’s in Malaysia in 1980, and then acquired the management right of 7-11 and others. His company became one of the first batch of successfully privatized enterprises in Malaysia. (BTW, Vincent Tan is the uncle of Carol Zhu, China’s famous actor Andy Lau’s wife.)
John Robinson Gokongwei Jr., the founder of JG Summit Holdings, is known as Li Ka-shing of the Philippines. The companies invested by him cover every field.
Sinar Mas, founded by ethnic Chinese Oei Ek Tjhong, is Indonesia’s largest conglomerate.
What has Oriente done this year?
What kind of company does Oriente want to be? Its official answer is “to provide solutions, real-time credit scores, online and offline lending, and other customized financial services by using artificial intelligence, machine learning and data technology.”
Their goal is to “provide fast and easy credit services to the emerging middle class and small and micro businesses”. In other words, consumer finance and P2P lending.
And Oriente is positioned to serve the whole of Asia. Currently, it can be inferred that companies will be established and operated independently in different countries.
For now, there are two online companies, Cashalo in the Philippines and Finmas in Indonesia.
Cashalo, a joint venture between JG Summit and Oriente, was launched in the Philippines in June 2018, and offers on-demand loans.
The office environment of Cashalo
In August, Cashalo launched Cashacart, an online to offline consumer financial product. In cooperation with local retailers, consumers can choose to make online installment payment on Cashacart during offline shopping.
Finmas, an Indonesian P2P lending company, was launched in August 2017 and got the registration number of OJK in February this year. It recently obtained certification from the information security management system of ISO 27001:2013, so as to maintain the privacy and security of customer data.
Before the financing, PT Sinar Mas Multiartha Tbk, a subsidiary of Sinar Mars, owned 99.44% of Finmas. After the financing, Oriente acquired 85% of PT Orientee Mas Sejahtera through acquisition. (OJK rules that foreign investors can own up to 85 percent of P2P lending companies).
According to figures published by Finmas itself, loans it lends range from 500,000 rupiah to 1.5 million rupiah (about 230 to 710 yuan) at a monthly interest rate of about 9.95 percent.
Finmas App has been downloaded for over 500,000 times from the Google Play Store and App Store since its launch last August. And the number of borrowers exeeded 10,000.
What’s the performance?
So, is it easier to succeed with such a stellar background?
Cashalo has been playing well in the Philippines. Though it’s been launched for less than a year, but it already ranks among the top 10 of financial apps.
Cashalo was among the top 10 aps in Philippines as of 18 Dec 2018 for both iOS and Google Play store
Finmas, the buy-out firm, did worse on the list, ranking around 40th. But Oriente has only just taken over Finmas, and Finmas may soon show a different performance after making efforts.