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Jakarta Post

Investing over spending: Banks, e-commerce firms cater to shifting consumer preference

  • Yunindita Prasidya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, October 13, 2020   /   09:27 am
Investing over spending: Banks, e-commerce firms cater to shifting consumer preference Indonesian Central Securities Depository (KSEI) data shows that the number of retail investors in the country has increased to 1.2 million as of June this year, a rise of around 12 percent from December last year.  (Shutterstock/Nong Mars)

Banks and e-commerce platforms are trying to ride the trend of customers choosing to invest rather than spend during the pandemic by offering investment services and pushing the use of existing assistance for retail investors.

Publicly listed Bank Central Asia (BCA) vice president director Suwignyo Budiman noticed a shift toward wealth accumulation among customers after the privately owned bank recorded a surge in funds under management for investment products and bancassurance, while loans began to diminish. 

“Starting from March, especially since June and July until the present, investment products [demand] increased quite notably,” Suwignyo said during the 2020 Indonesia Knowledge Forum held online on Oct. 6.

He added that demand had been particularly high for bonds, which gave a relatively higher return than bank time deposits as interest rates kept falling.

Bank Indonesia (BI) data shows that the country's loan growth stood at just 1.04 percent year-on-year (yoy) in August while third-party funds soared 11.64 percent annually.

McKinsey & Company’s “COVID-19 Indonesia Consumer Pulse Survey” found that consumers remain cautious about spending, with 83 percent of respondents agreeing to the statement: “Given the economy and my personal finances, I have to be very careful how I spend my money”. The survey was done from June 19 to 21. 

“BCA has strengthened its wealth management services in the past few years, so in the condition where wealth accumulation increases, [...] Welma, our wealth management app, received an overwhelmingly warm response from the public,” he added.

Welma is a platform that allows users to invest in mutual funds, bonds, as well as to purchase insurance products. 

The bank reported that the number of transactions within Welma had increased from less than 2,000 transactions in December 2019 to 6,498 transactions in July this year, with the total transaction value reaching Rp 722 billion (US$49 million) in July. 

The number of users downloading the platform surged from almost 25,000 in the first quarter this year to over 58,000 in September.

Indonesian Central Securities Depository (KSEI) data shows that the number of retail investors in the country has increased to 1.2 million as of June this year, a rise of around 12 percent from December last year. 

The rise of domestic retail investors in the country was significant in that it had provided the local bourse, the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX), with a liquidity buffer as foreign capital fled the country, driven by market panic due to the COVID-19 fear, analysts have said. As of Friday, data from the IDX shows that domestic investors make up 65 percent of the total trading value in the bourse this year, while foreign investors make up only 35 percent. 

Bond instruments are also highly sought after, with the government raising Rp 18.33 trillion through its July issuance of ORI017 retail bond series, 367 percent more than the original sale target of Rp 5 trillion and making it the highest recorded proceeds from online bond issuances. 

Prominent players in the country’s digital economy are eyeing to benefit from this trend and thinking to possibly expand their platform to include investment features if they have not done so already. 

“Hopefully, we can release an investment service, [but] we don’t know when yet,” Bank BTPN digital banking business product head Waasi B. Sumintardja told The Jakarta Post during an Instagram Live session with the Post on Thursday. 

“I hope by next year, we’ll already have an investment service. But we’ll see then because we received quite a lot of input from our cocreators, so we need to pick which ones are the most fitting for Jenius users,” Waasi explained, referring to its innovation process called cocreation in which Jenius users can share their ideas to the Jenius’ team on how to make the digital banking app work better for them. 

Decacorn ride-hailing app Gojek has also expanded its services to include an investment platform by forming a partnership between its payment services GoPay and Pluang, an online gold investment platform. 

Speaking during a webinar hosted by the Post, GoPay managing director Budi Gandasoebrata hinted that the GoJek app might soon launch a new investment feature. 

“Yes, hopefully, you will see it very soon [...] If I share too much, it won’t be a surprise anymore, so you’ll see when it comes,” Budi said on Sept. 25. 

Bukalapak also announced on Oct. 5 the launch of its fintech arm PT Buka Investasi Bersama (BIB) and aims to attract half a million Bukalapak users as mutual fund investors in 2021. 

Tokopedia, on the other hand, already owns mutual funds and digital gold investment platforms; both have grown robustly since they were launched. Tokopedia’s mutual fund investors have multiplied 57 times and gold investors 20 times in the last two years. The total number of transactions multiplied by 27 and 20, respectively. 

Schroders Indonesia president director and chief executive officer (CEO) Michael T. Tjoadi said during the Indonesia Knowledge Forum that investors would need to weigh in their investment horizon when building their investment portfolio — whether it was long-term or short-term. 

“In the short-term, knowing that the interest rates will be kept low, it is safer to invest in government bonds as they are less risky than corporate bonds,” Michael said on Oct. 6.