Charles Guinot, CEO and Director, Online Pajak

It’s that time of the year.

March is the month when Indonesian businesses and individuals are rushing into tax offices to submit their yearly reports. For 2017, the House of Representatives has targetted to increase tax revenue target by 16.8 per cent, from IDR1.2 trillion (US$89 million) last year to IDR1.4 trillion (US$112 billion).

Naturally, this will be one of the busiest time for tax collection platform Online Pajak, and this year they are aiming big.

“Last year we have managed to secure IDR2.7 trillion (US$202 million) of transactions through our site, and this year we want to achieve IDR15 trillion (US$1.1 billion),” says Online Pajak CEO and Director Charles Guinot on an interview with e27.

What makes them feel optimistic about reaching this target?

“Today we have already achieved a bit more than IDR1 trillion (US$74 million) per month, times 12 with a little more growth, and we can get to IDR15 trillion (US$1.1 billion) … 2016 was the year when we finally became fully operational, so we are optimistic. Hopefully we can reach more,” Guinot continues.

Having achieved its growth organically, starting from this year Online Pajak plans to step up on itsmarketing and advertising effort, in order to support the company’s effort in achieving the target.

A product of Achilles Advance Systems, Online Pajak is a one-stop platform for companies to perform their taxation-related tasks, from calculation, filing report, to payment.

Launched in July 2015, the platform serves as an alternative to government-owned e-SPT platform.

“There are 15 different kind of taxes applied to companies in Indonesia, and each kind requires a different form with e-SPT. We put everything under one place, one application,” Guinot explains.

Based in South Jakarta with 35 employees working on the team, Online Pajak claims to have secured 200,000 active users. It has listed big names such as Tokopedia, Go-Jek, Kawan Lama Group, PT Astra Otoparts Tbk, Huawei Tech Investment, and even state-owned mobile operator Telkomsel as its clients.

However, the startup named SMEs are their primary target market, as their platform enables even small businesses with no bank accounts to pay their taxes online.

Also Read: Major Malaysian ICT association calls for tax restructuring for the upcoming state budget

Investing for the nation

Online Pajak began when French-national Guinot faced difficulty in filing tax reports in his previous work, a mechanical components export-import company. Despite having a tax consultant and an accountant helping them, Guinot and team felt that the process could actually be better.

“So I visited the tax office, and asked them to give me the good software [to report tax], just tell me where I can buy it. And they said, ‘No, we have e-SPT, so you use e-SPT’,” Guinot explains.

“But then we asked around and learned that everybody faces the same problem. From the moment we got the idea, it took us almost three years to launch. We spent one year trying to get licence from the tax office, and we spent one year coding, trying to connect it to their system. And the audit and so on took us two years,” he continues.

Currently bootstrapping, the Jakarta-based startup is not in a hurry to find an external investor.

“I think this is one of the reasons why the Ministry of Finance wants to work with us, because we are not affiliating with anyone. Me being French, I have no ambition in joining any political party in Indonesia, we are not linked to any family or consortium … We are completely independent, and this is something that is very important when you want to have something related to the tax system,” Guinot says.

Guinot pointed out that the unique nature of the business is the reason why they have to be rather selective in finding an investor.

“We are always open to fundraising, but it needs to be [through] people who will no be telling us, ‘You cannot work with this people.’ We are building a tax system for the whole nation, so it needs to be for the whole nation,” he says.

“I will be approaching more real, professional, working venture capitalist. I think what we are lacking is professionals who are used to doing startups, who can force them to get the right KPI, the right matrix … This guy would actually bring a great value. Again, it needs to be VCs that are not linked to anyone,” Guinot adds, acknowledging that most VCs in Indonesia are linked to consortium or conglomerate families.

Online Pajak currently operates on freemium basis: While its taxation services is provided for free, the platform also offers other services such as calculating payment slip for a price.

“It’s already so painful to pay taxes. If on top of it you still need to pay to do that, you have a problem,” Guinot concludes.


Image Credit: Online Pajak