With $900 Million In Funding, Hong Kong Fintech Unicorn WeLab Bets Big On Indonesia
There are good “a-ha” moments and there are bad ones, according to Simon Loong. Developing a virtual bank at the height of the pandemic was a good “a-ha,” even though it entailed an uphill learning process for his Hong Kong fintech company WeLab, an online lender nearly a decade old.
“We see digital banking as the future of financial services,” says Loong, cofounder and CEO of WeLab, in an interview on the sidelines of the Forbes Global CEO conference held in Singapore. WeLab launched its eponymous banking app in Hong Kong during the summer of 2020. With services spanning time deposits and digital wealth advisory, the bank has weathered Covid-19 uncertainty to accumulate a total of 500,000 users in Hong Kong, including users for the group’s lending platform WeLend.
Founded in 2013, WeLab has garnered a total of $900 million in funding from the likes of German bank Allianz, China Construction Bank, International Finance Corporation, Sequoia Capital and Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s TOM Group. WeLab became a unicorn – a startup with a valuation of more than $1 billion – after a $220 million funding round in 2017; the company declined to disclose its current valuation.
Now, the nine-year-old fintech company plans to bring its digital bank product overseas, starting with Indonesia. “As entrepreneurs, we always look at, ‘how do you build it once, and sell it 200 times?’ For me, it is about monetizing the upfront investment on WeLab Bank,” continues Loong, 45, proudly sporting an orange and blue lapel pin of his company’s logo. Whether in Hong Kong or Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta, he adds the “fundamental thesis” behind his platform’s digital banking product remains the same—priming it for export.
Photo courtesy of geralt.