After weeks of speculation, Indonesia’s financial services authority OJK has confirmed that Shopee acquired local lender Bank Kesejahteraan Ekonomi (Bank BKE), Reuters reported on Thursday. OJK official Anung Herlianto said that Shopee is currently preparing the infrastructure to transform Bank BKE into a digital bank, the report says.
Herlianto added that OJK is preparing regulations for new digital banks that would likely be released this year. A digital lender like Bank BKE would be expected to hold IDR 3 trillion (USD 213.64 million) in capital. Another requirement would be that digital banks must have one head office in Indonesia.
Sea Group has yet to respond to KrASIA’s request for comment.
In early January, KrASIA first reported that Shopee’s parent Sea Group was hiring a local team in Indonesia for a digital banking push with the possible acquisition of Bank BKE. Aside from Shopee, Gojek also tapped into the segment by investing in Bank Jago, aiming to provide access to digital banking services through Gojek’s app, according to the ride-hailing firm.
Experts agree that the growing presence of digital banks will boost financial inclusion in Indonesia. However, they will face several challenges such as low financial literacy, uneven digital infrastructure, especially in rural areas, and a lack of trust in digital-only institutions.