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Moses Lo

Founder, Xendit

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Moses Lo created Xendit, an Indonesian-based fintech startup that makes it easier and cheaper to accept and send funds across banks, after seeing the huge international transfer fees his friends were paying. The entrepreneur is on a mission to change the way financial services are provided to his, increasingly mobile, generation.

How did you start? What made you choose this career path?

I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My grandfather escaped famines in China to settle in Malaysia, and with no education built a business that managed to send nine kids to universities overseas. My father studied in Australia and through fate, managed to build a business in Canberra that changed my family’s fortunes. At the same time, my mother never let a moment go to waste and despite English being a second language I ended up representing Australia at Model United Nations (a university level program that provides students with a forum to hone skills in diplomacy, negotiation, critical thinking, public speaking, writing, and research). This legacy meant that work ethic was instilled in me pretty early – 'we may not be the smartest, but we’ll work harder than anyone else' was the sentiment. The other important learning from my childhood years was that most things are games that can be hacked: UAI, competitions, hackathons and school were all things that could be hacked once you understood the rules. 

I studied at Radford College, Canberra then went to the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney. Radford College gave me opportunities pretty hard to get for most folks and expanded my brain beyond pure academics. UNSW allowed me to pursue anything I wanted and gave me space to fail and try new things. Whilst there, I stayed at New College which gave me my best friends to date. 

What made you take the leap overseas and why Indonesia? 

Primarily adventure, but split into personal and business reasons. Personally, my family is from this region, Southeast Asia is Australia’s backyard and I love the food/travel here. … not all Australians are willing to work overseas in a developing market where everything is difficult. My personality is to be roughly happy wherever, so I’m designed to enjoy life on the less trodden path. From a business perspective, Southeast Asia presents some of the most exciting opportunities – large, young and tech savvy population that’s undervalued and underserved. This context is a fertile ground to build something new and big. 

"We’ve relied heavily on hiring great people and surrounding ourselves with advisors who can help us navigate" – Moses Lo

What were the biggest hurdles in building your business and how did you overcome them? 

We needed to understand the Indonesian market and context. There’s no other way than moving and soaking in the culture. We didn’t look to change it or judge it – we had to adapt to the local context. We’ve relied heavily on hiring great people and surrounding ourselves with advisors who can help us navigate. 

What’s one of your most favourite things about living and working in Indonesia? 

In a world of wonderful growth, there are unlimited possibilities. Nothing is quite set in stone and everything is in flux, whether the traffic lanes or the regulations. This beautiful state of flux means that there are great opportunities to design a new world and as a young person define the future of our industries. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and one I couldn’t miss. 

"I’m designed to enjoy life on the less trodden path" – Moses Lo

Have you been inspired by the achievements of any particular expat Australians living and working overseas? 

The founders of Atlassian (Australian software giant) were in the same degree, scholarship at UNSW and only a few years ahead of me. I saw them grow from a name only known amongst a few friends to being a darling of the tech world. That kind of tenacity and success from similar roots set an inspiring example of what someone in my position can achieve. 

What makes you proud to be Australian?

Pound for pound, we outperform so many other countries across a range of disciplines and this makes me extremely proud. I get to claim this legacy and hopefully extend its reach. We’re structured to care about each other with healthcare, we have some of the world’s best beaches, most people have the ability to live a good life and even as an immigrant, my adopted home adopted me far before I adopted it. We’re genuinely kind. We may laugh our heads off at your expense, swear more than a sailor, but when we ask ‘how are you’? We actually want to know. We have far more capacity to think about others more than ourselves (sometimes to our detriment) and are far more giving than many other cultures.

More on Xendit: Since mid-2015 Xendit has been focused on making the process of sending money to friends, family or in business as simple and user-friendly as possible – totally automated and in real time. In a nutshell, Xendit holds money on behalf of the user, and then works with banks to wire money. Founder Moses Lo hopes to eventually move into financing. The company is geared towards producing products for Southeast Asia and has chosen Indonesia as its base due to its fast growing e-commerce and online environment. 

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