Ant Financial, the financial services unit of Alibaba, is getting into the digital payment market in Indonesia via BlackBerry Messenger (BBM).
According to a report, Ant Financial has inked a deal with Elang Mahkota Teknologi (Emtek Group), the local media conglomerate that gained control of BBM’s Indonesia operations in a licensing deal reached with BlackBerry last year. Under the deal, a mobile payment service will be created that user can access via BBM.
The report noted BBM is still huge in messaging in Indonesia, with greater than 63 million monthly active users. What’s more, a recent survey of internet users by JakPat in January found 83.1 percent of survey respondents still use BBM, with greater than one third of BBM users accessing the app more than ten times daily.
For Ant Financial, it is hoping to stand out from the pack because of its experience operating Alipay, the popular digital payment service in China, which has around 450 million users. The Indonesian market is growing in terms of smartphone users, with eMarketer forecasting there will be 67.1 million smartphone users this year, with that increasing to 92.1 million by 2020.
The report noted that with Alipay, Ant has grown the offering to include wealth management tools, food ordering, bill payment and the ability to make reservations for travel. Ant is expected to do the same with BBM. Emtek Group, Ant’s new partner, has tried to expand the offerings on BBM beyond messaging and didn’t have much luck, noted the report.
Late last year, Emtek inked a partnership with eCommerce platform Bukalapak.com to launch an eCommerce service called BBM Shopping, but eMarketer research shows the platform hasn’t taken off.
Another challenge for the new partnership between Ant and Emtek Group: competition from ride hailing apps, such as homegrown Go-Jek and Singapore-based Grab, which are moving beyond rides to digital payments.