The Jakarta Post
The Financial Services Authority (OJK), along with four of the nation's largest banks, launched on Thursday a nationwide campaign on financial services without physical branches to help boost access to the banking system in rural areas.
The Laku Pandai, popularly known as branchless banking, program promotes banking and financial services for all through the help of other parties, such as individual and institutional agents, supported by mobile phones and IT facilities.
State-owned Bank Mandiri and Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) as well as private lenders Bank Central Asia (BCA) and Bank Tabungan Pensiunan Nasional (BTPN) ' have already obtained permits from the OJK to run the program with their own strategies and approaches.
OJK chairman Muliaman Hadad said the program was based on the National Strategy of Financial Inclusion (SNKI) launched by the government in June 2012 to help increase financial access in Indonesia, where only 20 percent of the 250-million population has access to banks.
'The Laku Pandai program will provide simple and easy-to-understand bank and financial-institution services, because we know that so many Indonesians don't have access to banks, which have a limited number of branches and require several official documents from their customers,' Muliaman said at a press conference.
Muliaman said three types of banking and financial services ' savings, loans and other services, such as micro insurance ' would be offered by the banks involved in the program through their agents.
Savings, as the first and foremost banking product, should have the characteristics of a 'Basic Savings Account', different from regular savings accounts, Muliaman said.
'The Basic Savings Account will have several characteristics, such as free from administration fees, no minimum limit for balances and cash deposits as well as a limited number of cash withdrawals,' Muliaman said.
Regarding loans, Muliaman said the banking agents could only refer prospective customers to banks and would not be allowed to approve loan applications.
In addition, Muliaman said banking agents would also be allowed to offer micro-insurance products from insurance firms that had partnerships with banks involved in the program.
According to Muliaman, the four banks involved in the program will recruit 128,039 agents this year. The number would soar to 350,000 if 13 other banks looking to join the program were approved by the OJK, he added. 'The expected 350,000 agents will cover at least 75 percent of Indonesia's regions. In the first three years, all of the regions will be covered by banking agents,' Muliaman said.
During the press conference, BRI president director Asmawi Syam said the bank already had 24,000 agents in its branchless-banking pilot project, known as BRILinks, since 2013 when Bank Indonesia (BI) launched a similar campaign called Digital Financial Services (LKD). The number is expected to reach 50,000 agents by the end of this year.
Asmawi said BRILinks posted 21 million transactions worth Rp 7.8 trillion (US$598.8 million) in the period of 2013-2014. The bank expected to post 84 million transactions worth Rp 22.4 trillion this year, Asmawi added. 'We hope that our BRILinks customers will increase their level of business as most of them are categorized as micro-segment entrepreneurs,' Asmawi said. Bank Mandiri expects to have 200,000 new customers and 9,000 agents in the program this year, according to its president director Budi Gunadi Sadikin. The number of agents is expected to reach 50,000 and between 200,000-300,000 in the next three and five years respectively, Budi added.
'With that calculation, we hope our current number of customers of 14 million can surge to a range of 50 million-100 million in the near future,' Budi said.
BCA president director Jahja Setiaatmadja said the lender had entered 'a new era' through the Laku Pandai program. The bank plans to offer 'Laku' e-money cards costing Rp 2,000 each, which can be used for payments, transactions and withdrawals through agents.
'We hope that we can get 19 million or 20 million new customers in the next three to four years,' Jahja added.
Meanwhile, BTPN president director Jerry Ng said the lender had joined the BI's branchless banking program in 2013 and it expected 30,000 agents this year through its program called 'BTPN Wow!'.
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