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SINGAPORE: Traveloka, Southeast Asia’s largest online travel startup, plans to launch financial services in Thailand and Vietnam as it eyes a US listing through a blank-cheque company, its president said.

The 9-year-old Indonesian company, which counts Expedia and China’s JD.com among its backers, is seeing a strong rebound in its business after the COVID-19 pandemic pummelled demand.

The company’s president, Caesar Indra, told Reuters in an interview that Traveloka’s Vietnam business had surpassed pre-COVID-19 levels, is nearly back to normal levels in Thailand, and is at half of pre-COVID level in Indonesia. “The worst has happened and now we’re well prepared for 2021. Domestic travel is driving recovery,” he said.

“The 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 Thailand and Vietnam markets.

“We recently formed a joint venture with one of the largest banks in Thailand to collaborate in the fintech space,” Indra said. Traveloka, which has smaller local rivals, is also talking to potential partners in Vietnam, but Indra declined to name the parties.

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.

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