Jakarta-born Anderson Sumarli wants to democratize finance for everyone. Before realizing the potential of stock investing for Indonesian youth, he spent two years at Boston Consulting Group and then co-founded Ajaib, with his former Stanford Business School classmate, Yada Piyajomkwan, who is originally from Thailand. They created Ajaib as a millennial- and Gen-Z-friendly investing platform for Indonesians in 2019. Now a unicorn with a million users, Ajaib is backed by investors, including SoftBank and DST Global. It recently made headlines by spending over $100 million to acquire a 40% stake in publicly listed lender Bank Bumi Arta.
How much would you attribute Ajaib’s fast growth to the pandemic?
During the pandemic, we saw changes in Indonesian consumers’ behavior — especially in digital platform penetration. Combined with Indonesia’s explosive economic growth, fintech grew, along with an increase in interest and demand among young retail investors. Millennial investors want an easier, faster, cheaper way to invest. Ajaib wants to welcome this new generation.
How sustainable is this recent popularity of retail investing in Indonesia?
We are witnessing the democratization of finance for everyone. Indonesia’s youth realize that stock investing is an opportunity for all to benefit from our country’s explosive growth. The trend is driven by three things: the shift toward online financial services during the pandemic, the growing influence of mobile amongst Indonesia’s youth, and [a] low savings yield that pushes people to look for higher-return assets.
Fintech’s development here has helped new Indonesian users adopt and use it on a daily basis; that, combined with our financial literacy education and inclusion efforts, [should] help more people to realize the benefits of investing. We are collaborating with the Indonesian Stock Exchange to initiate a joint financial literacy education program.
Do you see much impact on the local stock market already from this flood of retail investors?
The number of Indonesian investors in capital markets jumped significantly, to 7.5 million at the end of 2021, up 93% compared to 2020 — of which more than 80% are millennial investors. Ajaib is committed to supporting the government’s efforts to increase financial inclusion and literacy in the country, by providing education and access to investment online. By providing comprehensive online investment efforts for investors throughout Indonesia, Ajaib continues to strive to provide the best investment experience and provide equal access to investment services.
Which country or region would be the next logical step for Ajaib to expand after Indonesia?
Ajaib was built with regional aspirations, having two founders from the two biggest equity markets in Southeast Asia: Indonesia and Thailand. But for the immediate term, we are focused on Indonesia, as investment penetration is still low, and there are many more millennial investors we can serve.
*This 3 Minutes With interview first appeared in the Rest of World weekly newsletter. Sign up here.