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Raya brings finance to Indonesia’s rural agent force

BRI’s digital banking unit is using a vast agent ecosystem to distribute its products to Indonesia’s gig economy.

Indonesia has a thriving gig economy, with many ride-hailing drivers and sellers of warung. Photo: Pixabay

Here are three themes: the rise of digital banking; growing financial literacy and smartphone access in rural Indonesia; and the transformation of the gig economy there as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Bank Raya sits where these three themes meet.

Bank Raya’s story begins as BRI Agro, a subsidiary of Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), Indonesia’s largest bank by assets. For 30 years BRI Agro was mainly a corporate bank for the agricultural sector.

In 2016, BRI’s president director Sunarso Sunarso set about a transformation plan for the overall bank on two fronts: culture and digital. He appointed Kaspar Situmorang as executive vice-president for digital and between them they set about preparing people, processes and technology. In 2020, Sunarso asked Situmorang a question: are we ready?

BRI Group has always been at the forefront of serving the ultra-micro and micro customers: that’s our core skill and our core customers
Kaspar Situmorang, Bank Raya

The plan was to take the agricultural subsidiary, dominated by lending to the plantations sector, and turn it into a digital bank.

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