Rumour: Indonesia payments app Sepulsa plans to rebrand, go after travel segment

Bill payments company Sepulsa has growing ambitions.

One of the early players in online bill payments in Indonesia, a company called Sepulsa, is currently hatching a plan to rebrand and branch out into hotel booking and tickets, KrASIA has learned. Based on the information we obtained, Sepulsa will be known as Altera after the relaunch next year.

By entering the travel segment, it’s going after the huge market currently targeted by local startups like Traveloka and Tiket.

Traveloka is one of Southeast Asia’s unicorn tech companies, backed by investors like Sequoia, JD, and Expedia. And Tiket was acquired by Blibli last year, an Indonesian e-commerce site associated with the tobacco company Djarum.

Online travel in Indonesia will be a market worth almost US$25 billion by 2025, according to a 2016 projection by Google and Temasek.

Sepulsa was co-founded in 2015 by Ananto Wibisono and Jefrey Joe. It’s backed by Alpha JWC, a local VC/venture builder that’s also c0-founded by Jefrey Joe. Sepulsa’s main use case is to let users top up their prepaid phones online. There are an app and a web version.

“Pulsa” is what Indonesians call mobile phone credit. Because most mobile phones are prepaid in Indonesia,  people need to buy “pulsa” all the time. In the past, this would have required a trip to a mobile phone credit reseller, such as a small mom-and-pop shop around the corner, or a convenience store. Just buying it directly from your phone makes things easier, and Sepulsa also lets its users conveniently pay recurring bills like electricity and insurance.

According to Alpha JWC’s website, Sepulsa clocks annual sales of more than US$ 100 million and works with the biggest e-commerce players in the country, such as Lazada, Bukalapak, and Tokopedia, who have all started integrating phone top-ups and bill payments into their platforms.

Apparently, Sepulsa now wants to internationalise its brand and go after new and lucrative segments. The firm did not respond to our request for comment on this story.

Editor: Ben Jiang