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Ex-banker Wawan Salum wants to boost Indonesian financial inclusion through fintech: Profiles in Tech

Previously the head of DBS ‘s consumer banking unit, Wawan Salum is now the CEO of Atome .

Fintech Financial technology concept, man pressing text fintech and holding global currency. Source: Tuchong.

Earlier this month, fintech company Atome Financials appointed Wawan Salum as its Indonesian CEO. Salum is a veteran banker who began his career with Citibank in 1997. Prior to joining Atome Indonesia, Salum was the head of consumer banking at DBS Indonesia. He had also held a number of prominent roles at HSBC, including as credit card and personal loan head and country marketing head.

With his extensive banking experience, Salum decided to switch sides and delve into Indonesia’s exciting fintech industry. “Fintech is a new world that develops very rapidly. I believe this industry will begin to mature in Indonesia in the next few years, so I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to be part of this exciting sector,” he told KrASIA in a recent interview.

Atome Financials is headquartered in Singapore with offices in Indonesia, China, India, the Philippines, and Vietnam. It is the parent company of Indonesia’s fast-growing peer-to-peer lending platform Kredit Pintar. Founded in 2017, Kredit Pintar already has ten million downloads, according to Salum. It has disbursed IDR 10 trillion (USD 730.5 million) to two million borrowers so far, and it is one of six new online lenders that was awarded a permanent business license by Indonesia’s Financial Authority (OJK) in late September 2019.

Wawan Salum
Wawan Salum of Atome Indonesia. Source: Atome Indonesia.


According to Salum, the permanent license reflects the startup’s commitment to running a socially responsible business. It provides more business opportunities to the company as it works on its next phase of development.

“Kredit Pintar has only been around for two and a half years but it’s already one of the top players in Indonesia. This is one of the reasons why I was excited about joining Atome,” he continued.

Wisely Wijaya is still Kredit Pintar’s CEO and he will work closely with Salum to further boost the startup’s growth.

Back in DBS, Salum led all operational consumer banking businesses including credit cards, loans, and mortgages. He was also one of the key figures behind the birth of DBS’ digital bank in Indonesia. Salum claimed to have experienced many adjustments when joining a fintech company, where the culture is very different from the corporate world.

“I’m happy to work in a fast-paced environment where the discussion and decision making processes are quick and straightforward. In my previous company, digital transformation was an important term as we wanted to push digital services and keep up with the latest tech trends. Meanwhile, in fintech companies like Atome, everything is powered by artificial intelligence and is already very data-driven, hence development can be more rapid.”

Salum is focusing on growing Atome Indonesia’s client and partner base from the banking, fintech, e-commerce, and ride-sharing segments. He is also focusing on talent acquisition, market expansion, and product development. As a former banker, Salum believes that conventional banks should work together with fintech companies in order to further push for financial inclusion in the country, and this will be one of his strategies in leading the company.

“We want to accelerate the existing business in our platform by expanding strategic partnerships. For example, Kredit Pintar has partnered with Bank BTPN and CIMB for funding purposes, and our product is available in major digital platforms like Tokopedia, Bukalapak, and LinkAja,” he said.

In addition to Kredit Pintar, Atome will also accelerate the development of other products to serve more underbanked and underserved consumers. The firm is currently working on a new brand that will offer an online credit card service called APayLater.

“APayLater was recently launched in Singapore and we hope to bring this product into Indonesia soon. I can’t share many details now, but we’ll surely tailor the product to the local market. PayLater is a trend that will likely continue this year, and we want to provide a service that suits the needs of Indonesian consumers. We may charge very little or even zero interest so it won’t burden consumers,” he added.

Salum believes that there’s still a huge opportunity for online lending businesses in Indonesia. Kredit Pintar is currently focused on consumer lending, although 30% of borrowers use the loans for productive purposes like to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) grow their businesses. Therefore, he doesn’t rule out exploring more products and segments in the near future. According to him, Kredit Pintar has already been generating profits in the past six months, and Salum will support the startup to maintain its sustainability by exploring new segments.

This article is part of “Profiles in Tech,” a series by KrASIA that highlights the achievements of people who are the driving force behind South and Southeast Asia’s tech startups.