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Banking in Indonesia

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Throughout Jakarta there are numerous foreign and local banks all offering a full range of banking services. Many offer both Rupiah and foreign currency (usually US$) savings and checking accounts, term deposits, as well as credit and debit card accounts and foreign exchange services. Safe deposit boxes are also available at some banks.

Foreign Banks generally have several requirements for opening a personal bank account including letters of reference from your employer or sponsor as well as copies of your passport and ITAS card. For checking accounts a reference from your previous bank, your company's Tax Registration Number and a letter from your company verifying that Indonesian income tax is paid by the company may be required. In order to open a personal account in US$ some banks also require a minimum deposit be maintained that would cover the account closing fee; others require a considerable balance be maintained. Because of the vast range of services and policies unique to each bank, it is advisable to call and make inquiries directly, then follow up by a personal visit.

Many expatriates living in Indonesia choose the option of maintaining their main account in their home country. Their employer can then transfer their salary each month directly to this account. Then, you may choose to receive a portion of your wages in Rupiah cash to cover your monthly expenditures in Indonesia.

Automatic Teller Machines

ATMs are conveniently located in shopping centers, larger bank branches, and urban office complexes, many convenience stores, as well as in some areas that tourists frequent. Many people prefer to do as much of their banking online or at the ATM machines to avoid the lineup of customers awaiting service in the banks and the limited banking hours outside of work hours; however, lines can get quite long for ATMs too! ATMs operate with international credit and debit cards affiliated with: Alto, Maestro, Cirrus, Plus, Master Card, and Visa.

If you have a dollar account in other banks such as BCA or BII you can also make ATM withdrawals from your US Dollar account but the cash withdrawal will be in Rupiah. You cannot however transfer foreign currency from online banking facilities as hardcopy documentation must be filled out in person for each transfer made. This requires that you go to the bank in person each time to make a foreign currency bank transfer. Look, instead at an online remittance company to ease these transfers.

Customers can take advantage of the other services that the ATMs offer such as paying electricity, television, water, or internet bills, paying for online shopping, transferring to other banks, as well as buying pulsa for mobile phones.

Before opening a bank account, see if your bank is affiliated with the Rintis Sejahtera’s Prima ATM network. If so, this gives you withdrawal and other ATM privileges at the ATMs in a wide network of banks across Indonesia. When using ATMs at a location other than the issuing bank of the ATM card, some charges may apply to your transaction.

ATMs are clearly marked whether or not withdrawals will be limited to Rp 50,000 bills or Rp 100,000 bills. Separate ATMS for bill paying are labeled "Non-tunai" (non-cash) or machines specifically for printing your bank books.

Many ATMs are accessible 24 hours a day. At ATM machines, take appropriate measures to avoid unwanted attention, especially when removing large amounts of money; use well lit, secure machines and money changer locations. Be sure to securely put your money away before you walk away from the ATM machine.

Transferring Funds Overseas - Online Remittance

In Indonesia, banks require that their customers come in person and stand in the regular customer queue in order to complete paperwork to initiate an international bank transfer. This convention means of bank transfer necessitates taking a break during work hours and US money transfer overseashaving to fight traffic to get to your bank. Associated fees aren't always apparent as they will be charged to both the sender and the receiver of the funds.

A number of international businesses offer an alternative - a fast, easy and economical way to transfer funds from your Indonesian bank account to other countries, without the high costs normally associated with a traditional bank transfer.

These online remittance companies can be accessed through your computer or phone app which enables you to make secure same day transfers direct to destination bank accounts. Competitive rates amongst companies allow you to "shop" for the service that best fits your needs.

Many international remittance companies have developed an app which explains the exchange rate and transaction fees. Your transfer can easily be tracked online and once your recipient's information is in your account, there is no need to fill in a form each time you send funds.

In choosing an online remittance company compare factors like fees (flat rate or dependent on the amount transferred), exchange rate used, ability to transfer to your chosen countries, ease of use, security, reputation, whether or not the remittance company is licensed and monitored in Indonesia by Bank Indonesia, and if they have an Indonesian-based customer service line to answer questions.

One company fits those criteria - TopRemit. Check out their website and app to learn more about hassle-free international money transfers from Indonesia with a company licensed and monitored by Bank Indonesia since 2009 to ensure 100% security. They offer four ways to receive transferred money: bank transfer, cash pickup, air time top-up, and e-Wallet.

Money Changers

Money changers are conveniently located throughout the city as well as in most shopping malls, department stores and hotels. It is recommended to bring only brand new unmarked notes, as old, dirty or marked notes are often rejected or traded at a reduced rate by money changers. They prefer US dollar bills in $50 and $100 denominations.

By comparison, local banks (BII, BNI, BCA, etc) often give exchange rates that are at least as good as the money changers. Banks also have a lower risk of giving you fake Indonesian money. But the banks close earlier and can take longer to change money. Money changers are open on the weekend however the weekend rate may be slightly inflated to compensate for any drastic rate fluctuation that may occur when markets open on Monday.

Once you understand the mysteries of Indonesia's money and banking system you will soon feel comfortable with the local currency. For most expatriates with foreign currency salaries to spend, Indonesia offers many great bargains!

Requirements for Opening a Bank Account in Indonesia

Each bank, of course, has its own requirements for foreigners to open a bank account. You'll find big differences as well between Indonesian banks and the foreign banks. Here are some current requirements for examples:

Mandiri Bank - Savings Account

Mandiri Bank - Foreign Currency Savings Account

Bank Central Asia (BCA) - Dollar Account

BCA - Tahapan Savings account

Citibank Savings Account

Standard Chartered Bank

Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC)

Requirements for expats opening a bank account:

Type of Account

Required Documentation

Minimal Amount Required

Advance

Passport, ITAS , NPWP (Tax identification number)

Rp. 50 Million or USD$ 5,000.

Premier

Passport, ITAS , NPWP (Tax identification number)

Rp. 500 Million or USD$ 50,000.

Credit Cards

Most of the major national and international banks in Indonesia issue credit cards. The basic requirements for issuing cards in Indonesia is that the holder must be 21 years old, have a monthly income of a set amount determined by each bank. Often the initial credit limit is set at a maximum of three times your monthly income, which can be increased over time after you prove your creditworthiness. Supplemental cards can be issued to children of the main card holder when they are of age. Of course, each bank's policies differ.

Each bank has its own requirements for issuing credit cards to expatriates, and they vary widely! Some banks will offer you a card even without having any account in their bank. Typically these types of cards will have a low limit.

For a higher limit card some expats may find it difficult to get a local credit card as both national and international banks often require significant deposits or known banking history on credit cards, sometimes up to 80-110 percent of the available credit line on the card. Others have encountered situations where their applications were seemingly not processed (no response was ever received from their application) or the expat applicant was told that he/she was not eligible because they were not citizens of Indonesia. Many expats, however, just continue to use their foreign issued card which is widely accepted in Indonesia.  One drawback of doing this however is the conversion rates used are typically high.  

Banks should only require a passport, proof of local residence, and temporary residency permit (ITAS), as well as evidence of sufficient income, in order to qualify for a credit card, but Indonesian banks may also ask for other "flexible” requirements when processing non-Indonesian applicants. For example, a letter of notice from the expat’s employer regarding his or her employment status may help to facilitate the process. Some banks may consider whether or not you own or rent your residence as a factor in the approval of the credit card. This leaves a lot of expats in the lurch, because for the most part they rent their homes or apartments during their stay. Applicants who already have a credit card from another lender may have an easier time getting additional lines of credit from Indonesian banks. It also seems that having a history with a particular bank (holding other accounts there) will make applying for a credit card much easier.

Seen as more mobile than the average Indonesia, expats are often viewed by local banks as having a greater risk factor.

Pre-paid credit cards

Pre-paid cards like BCA's Flazz and Emoney are popular forms of non-cash payment. These RFID chip cards enable quick payments with no transaction fee and are easy to refill at BCA non-cash ATMs, Flazz card merchants, and self-service top up centers across Indonesia.

These cards help insulate you against credit card fraud as the amount on the card is limited and determined by you when you fill up the card. When you want to pay, just place your card on the reader and your cash-less transaction is completed. Commonly used at mini markets, supermarkets, gas stations, bookstores, for parking, and public transportation. You can purchase these pre-paid cards at participating merchants or banks.

Credit Card Fraud

Expatriates are advised to be extremely cautious using foreign-issued credit cards in Indonesia due to the danger of credit card fraud, found across the world and in Indonesia too!. Crimes related to credit card misuse are prevalent and include the use of stolen or counterfeit credit cards for internet transactions. A spokesperson from the Indonesian Credit Card Association (AKKI), acknowledged that banks often had additional requirements for foreign nationals who were seeking credit.

It is preferable to use cash or debit cards for purchases. Some advise not using VISA or Master Card debit cards tied to your current account when making purchases, since debit cards allow thieves to wipe out the total amount from the current account.

Reduce your exposure by opening a local bank account with only a small amount of money. Shred all your credit card receipts (they generally have your full credit card number and expiry date on them) and documents with personal information. Carry a minimum number of credit cards with you and have a record of their numbers and who to call if they are stolen or lost; opening a local bank account can also reduce your exposure.

For more information on Credit Card Fraud in Indonesia

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Our thanks to Colliers International and Marcus for their generous contributions to this article!

 

Last updated December 28, 2020