Indonesia bill payment startup Ayoconnect raises US$5m in pre-Series B round

INDONESIAN fintech company Ayoconnect has raised US$5 million in a pre-Series B funding round from investors including BRI Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Indonesia's Bank BRI; Tokyo-listed Internet company Kakaku.com; and Brama One Ventures.

The sum will help the startup engage in tech investment and grow its partner network as it builds Indonesia’s largest and most advanced business-to-business (B2B) open bill network, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

The startup aims to bridge the gap between bill providers and channel partners by creating infrastructure for reliable, secure and fast digital bill payment.

Its open bill network links bill providers, such as utilities companies, telcos and educational institutes, with online and offline channel partners, including various financial institutions, postal services company POS Indonesia, and convenience store chain Indomaret. Consumers can pay their bills seamlessly within the network. 

Ayoconnect operates, maintains and extends the network, and provides relevant backend infrastructure technology for companies. It also builds and runs "hundreds of integrations" to tackle issues of low margins and high overhead costs for its partners, it said.

Bill providers can expand their payment points with "minimum effort" and collect recurring consumer payment faster and cheaper, while channel partners have immediate access to 2,500 bill products. Bill categories include phone credits, electricity payment and game vouchers. The startup recently entered into recurring property and tuition payment, it said.

BRI Ventures chief executive Nicko Widjaja said the firm saw "sustainable value" in Ayoconnect's approach to serving the entire bill payment ecosystem, adding that the startup's open network would accelerate the "democratising" of digital products in Indonesia's fintech ecosystem over the coming years.

"Bill payment technology plays a vital part across many currently underserved industry verticals, and there is a tremendous growth opportunity in the upcoming digitalisation of those sectors," Mr Widjaja added.

To date, Ayoconnect has raised over US$10 million from investors including Strive, AC Ventures, Finch Capital and Amand Ventures.

The company has 600 bill providers and 40 channel partners on board. Transaction volumes grew four times between January and June 2020, with the startup processing over 40 million payments as at July, it said.

Ayoconnect co-founder and chief operating officer Chiragh Kirpalani added that online bill payment was "a clear winner" from the Covid-19 outbreak, as consumer preferences had accelerated digitalisation.

He added that the startup will remain focused on bill payments, while aiming to build more value-added solutions, such as billing reminders that help financial institutions execute auto-debit for bill payments.