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Business deals

Indonesia's Telkom invests in Hungary-based mobile payments company

State-owned telco jumps deeper into fintech market with $6m deal

JAKARTA -- Indonesia's state-owned telecommunications company on Wednesday said it has agreed to buy a 30.4% stake in a Hungary-based mobile payment service provider.

Telekomunikasi Indonesia, known as Telkom, will pay $6 million for the shares in Cellum Global.

In a stock exchange filing, Telkom said MetraNet, its digital payments and advertising unit, will initially buy a 20.4% stake in Cellum for $4 million.

Later, the remaining 10% will be purchased for $2 million.

The two companies have also agreed to "work on a mobile payment platform in Indonesia." The deal will "strengthen the fintech business ecosystem that is in line with Telkom's vision to become a Digital Telco Company," Telkom said in a press release.

Established in 2000, Cellum facilitates nearly 20 million mobile transactions per year and has operations across Europe, the U.S. and Asia, according to the release. In Indonesia, it has recently piloted an electronic payment project with state toll road operator Jasa Marga and partnered with bill payment startup Paytren.

Less than half of the adults in Indonesia have bank accounts, and credit card penetration is less than 10%. Telkom's investment comes amid growing acceptance of ride-hailing and other e-commerce services. This is expected to fuel expansion of electronic payments.

Indonesia's telcos have largely pulled out of online services amid intense competition from startups and conglomerates. But Telkom, the market leader and in the strongest financial health, has continued to be active, signaling ambitions outside of its core communications business.

Since November, it has announced investments in logistics information-technology provider Bosnet Distribution Indonesia and Malaysian satellite company TS Global Network.

Telkom runs an e-commerce joint venture with eBay. It also has mobile payment businesses and online streaming services that have so far failed to gain widespread popularity in the face of aggressive competition.

Its investment spree indicates that Telkom is now tapping technology from specialized companies rather than building its own operations.

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