[THE INVESTOR] SINGAPORE -- Indonesian startup Cicil is out on a mission to make lending easier and more accessible to university students struggling from credit crunch.
“If you look at Indonesia, its banking penetration is below 20 percent, and credit card penetration is only 3 percent. There is a massive need there. Leslie Lim, cofounder and CEO of Cicil, told The Investor in a recent interview held in Singapore. “Given that we were students at the time, we saw the credit crunch of students. If they need to buy a laptop or mobile phone, the up-front costs are high. So we allow them to purchase the products and pay in monthly installments without a credit card.”
Lim met cofounder Edward Widjonarko at INSEAD during their MBA years. Triggered by INSEAD’s strong emphasis on entrepreneurship, Lim wanted to start his own business upon graduation. Given his background in finance -- from working at BNP Paribas, Barclays and HSBC -- he decided to start something in fintech with his friend.
From left: Cofounders Leslie Lim, Edward Widjonarko and CTO Ricky Jeremiah. Cicil
That’s how Cicil began in 2016 at Widjonarko’s home country. Today, it has around 40 employees and 70,000 users, spread across universities in seven cities in the archipelago, including Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya and Bali.
Electronic gadgets, such as laptops and mobile phones, are the most popular items, according to Lim. Students can choose products from any major e-commerce sites. Cicil will then verify student’s eligibility based on criteria such as friend's reference and GPA. When approved, Cicil will purchase the products on behalf of the students.
On receiving the items, students can start paying the installments to Cicil, with an interest -- which is similar to what credit card firms charge.
In order to provide a better program for students, Cicil is actively seeking to partner with major e-commerce players in the country, including Tokopedia.
The service is only for university students at the moment, but that could change in the future.
“We liked them as a segment. We think the university students are responsible, educated, and eventually these are the people who will graduate and become prime white collar workers,” he said. “When these students graduate, we want to follow them and continue to help them as they start purchasing scooters, cars and other things.”
Team members of Cicil
Lim believes Cicil platform can expand in other regions in Southeast Asia. “We are potentially looking at Thailand, Philippines and maybe Vietnam, sometime down the road,” he said.
Ultimately, Cicil wants to become a “one-stop shop” for students in the lending space. “We want to be a multifaceted platform. We are now focusing on just product financing. But at the same time, we want to move onto many verticals within the student space, whether it is housing, or tuition fees, exchange program and flights.”
On the investment side, Cicil raked in a seed and pre-Series A from investors, including East Ventures. “We are in the middle of raising Series A,” he said. “With the investment, we want to disperse out loans. We also want to hire more people to help us in our sales effort and ramp up our tech and operations to make us a lot more scalable, as we are aggressively expanding into more cities.”
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This story was sponsored by the Samsung Press Foundation. - Editor