In 2016, Markus Prommik was travelling Southeast Asia when he discovered the untapped potential of the underbanked region. Subsequently relocating to Singapore and co-founding Danabijak to accelerate access to credit for individuals and SMEs in Indonesia, Prommik is now taking on a new challenge with Finfra.
In this week’s In Profile, we speak to Prommik to learn about how he helped create Finfra, the one-stop shop for businesses integrating white-labelled lending products in Indonesia.
Following his studies at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga and the City University of Hong Kong, Prommik gained extensive experience in credit analysis and monitoring as a junior credit analyst at LHV and a business analyst at Magnetic MRO AS.
He launched Finfra in 2022, and remains dedicated to expanding financial inclusion across the region.
Tell us more about your company and its purpose
Finfra develops white-labelled financial products for non-fintech digital platforms. What that means is we facilitate the integration of financial services into companies involved in sectors such as B2B e-commerce, agritech, and logistics. We provide credit to their customers at the time of transaction.
In plain terms, we provide companies with the tools they need to offer financial services to their users in a way that’s seamless and legally compliant. Finfra’s sophisticated lending platform can be rolled out by any company under its own name and branding. Our vision is to integrate sustainable financing into every digital transaction in SEA.
What are some of your recent achievements you’d like to highlight?
Since our product launch, we have transitioned to a post-revenue phase. To date this year, we have seen a threefold increase in our paying customers. Every month, we disburse several thousand loans.
Our sales pipeline is robust, boasting over a thousand qualified leads and more than 50 on-going conversations with platforms looking to launch within the next 12 months. We also have several partnerships lined up for launch. For instance, this month, a major partnership with Xendit was announced.
Together we’ve developed a new system designed specifically for the Indonesian market that facilitates short-term loans through API-enabled bank accounts. This is great for micro, small and medium businesses (MSMEs) in the country and expands our reach within the Indonesian market. We’ve already begun rolling it out to users of our clients.
How did you get into the fintech industry?
My fintech entrepreneurial streak began when I co-founded the consumer lending company Danabijak in 2016. Through this company, we developed a proprietary lending technology that enabled us to score, qualify, and provide 500,000-plus users with services that ranged from single-payment loans to larger instalment loans.
To me, this was the most straightforward way of addressing the problem I’d discovered: a huge population of Indonesian people who were underbanked and unable to get the credit they needed to grow financially.
The experience and success of Danabijak eventually led me to developing the white-labelled embedded lending platform that’s at the heart of Finfra. I have been part of the emerging markets fintech world since my early twenties. It has been very exciting to combine the two worlds: financial services together with the innovation that technology allows us to do.
What’s the best thing about working in the fintech industry?
This is an industry whose entire existence is predicated on thinking differently about how global finance could work and how capital could move. Entrepreneurship within fintech requires a certain boldness and willingness to go all-in on innovation that others might think is a bit risky; at the same time, you need to be mindful of regulations, risk management etc.
As a result, the fintech community operates at a really high level. My colleagues and contemporaries are smart, savvy, and incredibly ambitious people, and it has the communal effect of encouraging everyone involved to think bigger – sometimes just to keep up! Fintech is not for everyone, which in some ways is what I like about it. If you’re one of those people who is suited to it, as I am, there’s no better sector to be a part of.
What frustrates you most about the fintech industry?
Fintech is naturally subject to a number of legal regulations disproportionate to other tech sectors. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. People’s money needs to be protected and insured, and the flow of capital needs to be regulated in order to reap the benefits.
The amount of regulations fintech companies navigate, however, as well as the risk management acumen fintech companies must have just to operate, is enormous. A massive amount of time, energy and money is dedicated just to managing this aspect of the industry. I’m not even necessarily frustrated by it, but I think it does set us apart from other sectors, and I think people on the outside have no real sense of just how much goes into managing it.
How have your previous roles influenced your career?
Everything influences everything. I can draw a straight line from Danabijak’s founding and initial success to founding and growing Finfra.
Before that, I cut my teeth in credit analysis and consulting roles. Those roles gave me the hands-on financial sector experience that eventually drew me to pure fintech and enabled me to co-found two fintech companies.
My entire career has been at the very least finance-adjacent, so it’s been a steady growth of building on foundations I established years ago.
What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?
I think a lot of founders and executives can relate to the uncertainty and craziness of those first few months of COVID-related lockdowns. There was no playbook. It felt like coming to a screeching halt and unleashing chaos at the same time, and mistakes naturally got made.
I don’t deny that the pandemic had a negative impact on our previous business, so much so that we were forced to do some restructuring. Nevertheless, it was a baptism by fire, and in hindsight, everything that went wrong and needed redoing during that period made the company stronger and more resilient. The mistakes themselves weren’t good, per se, but the company that we made by bouncing back from those mistakes is one I’m very proud of.
What has the future got in store for your company?
In June this year, we secured an investment of $1million that will be channelled towards speeding up product development and expanding our engineering, data, and finance teams.
Our aim is to expand beyond Indonesia throughout Southeast Asia, which is a multi-tiered and long-term goal. We’re on the hunt for collaborations that will enhance our product and make our users’ financial needs more easily met. We’re going to keep making sure our banner white-labelled lending product is as seamless and easy to use as possible and adjusting it to shifting regulations. That’s still the core of Finfra, and making sure it is as good as it can be is a constant priority.
What are the next key talking points or challenges for your industry as a whole?
I think we need to begin addressing the underbanking problem throughout the Global South on a bigger and more collaborative scale. Like any other industry, we need to have a serious discussion about how we’re integrating artificial intelligence and how those integrations will affect our users and entire markets. Industry discourse can err on the side of the myopic, and I think that’s ultimately detrimental.
Like I said, we’re a sector that’s friendly to bold ideas. I’d like to see us expand the scope of our industry-wide vision and goals accordingly.