Group Lease Pioneering Digital Finance in ASEAN

15 Feb 2016

After posting new record-high profits of 192.90 million baht in the last quarter of 2015, SET-listed motorcycle leasing firm Group Lease Public Company Limited (GL) has announced that it is changing its business model to pioneer digital finance in ASEAN to drive revenues and profits to even greater heights.

GL Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mitsuji Konoshita explained that the new business model builds around an efficient and low-cost e-Finance system developed by GL to serve the financing needs of the company’s growing number of clients in the rural countryside of Cambodia, Laos, and other markets in ASEAN where GL is expanding to.

The system has worked successfully in Cambodia and, on top of traditional products like Honda motorcycles and Kubota agricultural machinery, it is now used as a financing platform for other products such as solar panels and consumer durables. It essentially facilitates the entire business process from loan-application evaluation to e-Payment of monthly installments by clients.

“This e-Finance system has been developed exclusively by us to serve our specific purpose. As a result, our operations are cost-effective, assets-light, easy and fast. The system puts us in a very advantageous position since other traditional finance companies or banks cannot compete with us,” Mr. Konoshita said.

In Cambodia, GL operates nearly 200 PoS (Points of Sales) nationwide which serve the growing needs of villagers in the countryside most of whom have no bank accounts or access to mainstream financing. These PoS link the clients directly with head office In Phnom Penh through the e-Finance system without having to go through the costly and cumbersome branch offices as done by other traditional finance houses.

Maintaining that this has been the main factor behind GL’s current success, Mr. Konoshita said the new digital finance model will drive the group’s revenues and profits to new heights in the years to come.

Announcement of GL’s new business model came after the company reported all-time-high net profits of 192.90 million baht for Q4 of 2015, more than double from the profits in the same quarter of 2014. All-year 2015 profits topped 582.89 million baht, a huge jump of 395.15% from the year before.

The 192.90 million baht net profits for Q4 2015 represents a 28% increase from the 150.27 million baht net profits in the previous quarter. The Q4 2015 profits comprised of roughly 90 million baht from Thailand, which represents a 20 million baht improvement from Q3 as the result of further consolidation and assets-quality improvement, while the remaining 102 million baht came from overseas operations the bulk of which from Cambodia

GL’s operations in Laos which kicked off in May last year took only five months to reach the break-even point and contributed 2.5 million baht to the group’s consolidated net profits.

Going forward, Mr. Konoshita projected that the group’s aggregate portfolio which has doubled from 4.5 billion baht at end-2014 to 9.2 billon at end-2015 will further double to 18 billion baht by the end of this year. He also forecast that 2016 net profits will top 1 billion baht.

The GL management is particularly bullish on the Cambodian growth prospect. According to Mr. Tatsuya Konoshita, GL’s Executive Director and Chief Investor Relations Officer, GL Finance (GLF, the group’s wholly-owned subsidiary in Cambodia) has done leasing for 23,000 motorcycles last year, or less than 10% of the total 260,000 new motorcycles sold in the country. “So, there are still enormous growth potentials,” he said.

Another prospective high-growth market is Indonesia where GL has registered a joint-venture company with its strategic partner J Trust Bank group since last December and is now waiting for a license from the Indonesian authorities before kick-starting the consumer-finance business. GL’s management has been in Indonesia since the end of last year to do all the necessary preparations; the license is expected this quarter while operations can kick off in the second quarter.

Maintaining that Indonesia is a huge market ten times the size of Cambodia, Mr. Konoshita had stated that GL hoped to start off with about US$20-30 million business in the first year but the full market potentials for GL there could top US$1 billion.