With one third of the local Indonesians unable to have access to traditional bank accounts, Hendra Sutandinata, CEO of PT MVCommerce, gave a very daring solution to this problem – he made bank transfers possible with the simple use of mobile phones.
Known as PonselPay, this is a groundbreaking method that liaised with the banks and telephone companies. Users simply register for an account using their phones and after which, they can use a PIN code sent via SMS to make immediate payment or transfers to bank accounts.
This has actually saved a considerable amount of money – one usually has to pay for at least 22,000 Rupiah (US$1.89) just to make a transfer via the post office, which is exclusive of transportation costs. This is in fact quite a dear price for the public where 12.5 percent of the population lives with an income below the poverty line.
While it may seem to be a lifesaver for the public at large, this has also caused quite some snarls from competitors like Mandiri E-Cash and Rekening Ponsel, which actually uses apps instead of simple text messages to perform transactions. With the use of basic short messaging services, users can actually make transactions even without the use of a smartphone.
However, this startup did not happen immediately. Hendra created PonselPay as far back as 2007, and had their fair share of struggles with making what they have work. The challenges involved agreements with not just the telephone companies on the usage of the service, but also bank regulations to ensure that the users are duly protected and will not be subjected to fraud.
It is still currently at the state of soft launch, but in time to come, what is definitely known is that the beneficiaries is not Hendra himself, but the consumers who are now enabled to send more money over to their relatives or loved ones right when they need it.