The 9-year-old Indonesian company is seeing a strong rebound in its business after the COVID-19 pandemic pummelled demand.
Traveloka’s Vietnam business had surpassed pre-COVID-19 levels, and is nearly back to normal levels in Thailand, said Caesar Indra, the company’s president.
The worst has happened and now the firm is well prepared for 2021, he said, domestic travel is driving recovery.
The company’s plan is to invest in fintech in a big way to allow more consumers to travel in the region, Indra said, adding that the travel business had returned to profitability in late 2020.
Traveloka, which says it has 40 million active monthly users, is developing “buy now, pay later” services for Vietnam and Thailand.
Traveloka recently formed a joint venture with one of the largest banks in Thailand to collaborate in the fintech space, Indra said. The firm is also talking to potential partners in Vietnam, but Indra declined to give the details.
Traveloka’s two-year old equivalent service in Indonesia, launched after the firm realised that customers would wait until their paydays to book travel, has already facilitated more than 6 million loans, Indra said.
Last year, Traveloka launched “Paylater” credit cards with some Indonesian lenders. It also offers insurance and wealth management services.
Indra said the business potential was huge in Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, where only 6 percent of the population of 270 million has credit cards.
When asked whether Traveloka might buy a bank in Indonesia, like other start-ups, to expand its financial services, Indra said, “all options were on the table.”
Traveloka, backed by Expedia (US), Jingdong (China), sovereign wealth fund GIC (Singapore) and East Ventures (Indonesia), has grown its local lifestyle services in Indonesia, where it offers restaurant vouchers and a food delivery service, as well as a popular rapid COVID-19 testing.
Indra said the company is Indonesia’s largest restaurant review app.
Traveloka, which has been preparing for a listing, is holding discussions with special-purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, for a US listing.
US markets have become more appealing because there’s more and more appreciation of Southeast Asia as a flourishing region, and by listing in the US, Traveloka can also provide an opportunity for US investors to become part of Southeast Asia’s growth story, Indra said./.