Fri, 24 Sep 2010

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta:Bank Indonesia declared that the majority of Indonesians living in villages do not have access to banks. “Around 82 percent of the villagers do not have bank accounts,” said Adam K. Saputra, senior researcher at Bank Indonesia’s Research and Bank Regulation Directorate, in Jakarta yesterday.

Most of the villagers often borrow instead of save money when it comes to finances. According to Adam, banks are not pro-active in mobilizing money among rural communities.

Nationwide, only 13 percent of the population save money in banks. This number is far below that of China, which is a country with the highest savings rate in the world with 52 percent.

Banks, Adam said, must be active in getting customers to save. Moreover, the number of bank branches in the villages need to be increased.

Bank Indonesia said the penetration of banking in Indonesia’s economy is still low. The banking sector’s contribution to the GDP is 48 percent, lower than Malaysia (72 percent), Thailand (82 percent), and Singapore (101 percent). Indonesia is just a little better than Vietnam (42 percent).

At the same occasion, Alyson Slater, the Alliance for Financial Inclusion Director, said it is a big challenge for developing countries to convince people to trust banks. Not a surprisingly, out of 2.5 billion of the world’s population who do not have access to banks, 90 percent are located in developing countries.

According to Alyson, setting up a culture of saving is not easy. On one hand, banks do not seem to understand the market in the villages, yet villagers tend to worry about the security of their money. Another problem is the ability to save at all.

Alyson said the central bank should issue a policy that can facilitate access to banks for the poor. Indonesia should look at what India and Uganda has done on banking for the poor.

Meanwhile, Adam said Bank Indonesia had launched the TabunganKu (MySavings) program in February, involving 38 banks. However, after one semester of its implementation, the number of depositors was not satisfactory. There was only an additional 480.000 debtors from the target of one million bank users.