Telstra invests in Indonesian, Philippines finance ecommerce companies

Telstra is continuing its involvement in the Asia-Pacific market, with another strategic investment seeing it back consumer financial websites in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Telstra's venture capital arm Telstra Ventures has announced a strategic investment in C88, which owns and runs the largest consumer financial websites in Indonesia and the Philippines: CekAja.com and eCompareMo.com, respectively.

The investment, made as part of the company's Series B funding round, flags Telstra's continued interest in the Asia-Pacific region's ecommerce market.

"C88's properties, CekAja.com in Indonesia and eCompareMo.com in the Philippines, are the largest financial sites in their respective markets, connecting banks and insurers with consumers across a number of products, including loans, mortgages, and insurance," said Matthew Koertge, managing director of Telstra Ventures.

"They offer ecommerce 'apply now' functionality to consumers that is directly linked to the issuing bank or insurer, which means it is easy to use and creates a new customer onboarding channel for financial institutions."

C88 also owns back-office infrastructure such as call centres and sales networks to assist consumers in completing financial transactions, and co-operates an insurance e-brokerage site in Indonesia called Premiro.com.

Telstra said the C88 investment will also provide collaboration opportunities for enterprise services with its Indonesian joint venture Telkomtelstra.

In August, Telstra Ventures also announced signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Telkom Indonesia's corporate venture arm PT Metra Digital Investama for the purposes of collaborating on startup investment opportunities in South East Asia.

Last week, Telstra said it would be leveraging its joint ventures in China and Indonesia for growth of its network applications and services (NAS) business.

"We're very positive and very excited about the Indonesian market," David Burns, acting group executive for Telstra Global Enterprise and Services, said.

"We recognise that is a long-term investment, a long-term commitment to the Indonesian market, and that's what we're making. Telkom Indonesia to us was the only partner to go with, so we're very delighted to be working with Telkom, and in particular what Telkomtelstra ... what the objective of that joint venture is, [is] to build a services-based business, so a network-connectivity services business on top of the network connectivity itself.

"Telkom did not see that as a strength of their organisation, but it is a strength of Telstra, so the two of those combined work very well."

Investing in startups and technology companies has created new revenue streams for the telecommunications provider, according to Cynthia Whelan, group executive of International and New Businesses at Telstra -- particularly in the growing Asian region.

"Over the past five years, Telstra Ventures has invested over AU$200 million in more than 30 different technology companies, giving us access to new revenue streams and cutting-edge technology we can use in-house and provide to our customers," Whelan said last month.

"Our ventures investments are increasingly occurring in Asia, and we are very excited to be collaborating with Telkom to identify the best new emerging technology companies in the region."

Telstra Ventures particularly pointed towards startups in the ecommerce, e-health, Internet of Things (IoT), and fintech sectors.

At the start of 2014, Telstra and Telkom Indonesia announced signing an MOU for a joint venture for network applications and services (NAS), allowing Telstra to enter the Southeast Asia market and take advantage of Telkom's customer base.

Telstra has since been making investments in the Asian region: In July, Telstra Ventures invested in Cloopen, a Chinese communications application programming interface (API) provider; in January, Telstra acquired Kloud, which provides professional and managed cloud services to enterprises for more than 80 corporate and government customers across the Asia-Pacific region; and at the same time, the telco invested in Chinese cloud services company Qiniu.

Telstra Ventures also made a multimillion-dollar investment in Taiwanese video big data and analytics company Gorilla Technology Group in March 2015, saying the company could provide beneficial video analytic software solutions for the government, security, broadcast, and retail sectors.

Most significantly, Telstra purchased Pacnet for $697 million in December 2014.

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