The BTPN Wow! program offers an attractive opportunity to become a local banking agent across Indonesia. With only Rp 500,000, a banking agent can serve as a bank teller.
NOW, opening an account, depositing and withdrawing cash, making a transfer or paying your electricity bill doesn’t require you to visit a bank branch or ATM. Customers and prospective customers can simply visit a nearby warung (small roadside stall), shop or even a a neighbor house who servers as a banking agent. This has all been made possible by the Financial Services Authority’s (OJK) Laku Pandai program (Branchless Banking in the Framework of Financial Inclusion).
Bank Tabungan Pensiunan Nasional (BTPN) is one of four banks granted license to carry out the Laku Pandai program under its brand BTPN Wow!. As of December 2015, BTPN Wow! already boasted 21,000 agents with a total of 307,000 customers. All those 21,000 BTPN Wow! agents can play just the same role as BTPN tellers.
“The functions of these BTPN agents are to facilitate in opening accounts, cash withdrawals and deposits. From these three activities they get commissions,” enthused the Sales Management Head of BTPN Wow!, Mohammad Reza Rizal, on a visit to BTPN Wow! agents in Cirebon, West Java on Sunday, 14 February 2016.
Furthermore, it’s pretty easy to become a BTPN Wow! agent in one of Indonesia’s many regions. There are a few requirements that need to be met. First of all, a prospective agent needs to have been living in the related region for at least two years, as indicated in a letter from the rukun tetangga (RT). Secondly, they need to have a regular job or business. Thirdly, if a prospective agent was previously a BTPN customer, their track record will be checked. If they were not a BTPN customer, the bank will do a background check on them in their neighborhood. Last but not least, they must be willing to undergo a training and education program.
“Also, it is equally important that a prospective BTPN Wow! agent is technologically savvy,” said Reza Rizal. This is because the primary means by which a BTPN Wow! agent will carry out his or her duty is a mobile phone. The agent will use a mobile phone to register savings accounts, deposit and withdraw cash, perform transfers, and make payments, digitally.
After these administrative requirements have been met, the following set of requirements is of a quantitative nature. This refers to the initial capital needed to open a service akin to a bank teller. It’s quite affordable really - all that is needed is Rp 500,000 as initial capital with a breakdown as follows: Rp 250,000 in cash and Rp 250,000 in electronic money.
“It’s essential to have this initial Rp 500,000 in capital, as it ensures the financial capacity of the agent to perform transactions. If an agent has an insufficient balance, they won’t be able to handle transactions,” explained Reza Rizal.
If a customer wishes to deposit some money, the BTPN Wow! agent will transfer electronic money into the customer’s account. Meanwhile, if a customer wishes to withdraw some money, the agent will give this in cash. Customers can perform transactions using a valid mobile phone number as their account number by accessing *247# and selecting the transaction menu.
“There are absolutely no monthly fees or administration fees for customers. There are also no fees for depositing cash or withdrawing cash,” Reza Rizal continued.
A BTPN Wow! agent can thus play a role in providing financial access in the regions to communities that far from the reach of conventional banks and people who until now have been unbanked. Such agents should be proud of carrying out such a noble and constructive duty. However, this is not all. A BTPN Wow! agent can also use this job as a means of generating much needed extra income for his or her family. This is because agents receive a commission for every transaction they facilitate.
The commission for a BTPN Wow! agent is quite attractive. For opening a customer account, for example, an agent will get a commission of Rp 18,000. Meanwhile, if a customer deposits or withdraws money, the agent will receive a commission of 1% and 1,5% respectively from each transaction.
“There is a limit on the total commission given. For deposits, the maximum commission an agent can receive is Rp 3,250, while for withdrawals the maximum commission is Rp 4,500. Plus, an agent gets Rp 1,000 per transaction if a customer buys electricity or mobile phone top-ups. This Rp 1,000 incentive is paid even if the agent’s customer performs the transaction through a different agent,” Reza Rizal pointed out.
With these tremendous commission-based benefits, so many people are really keen on becoming a BTPN Wow! agent. In Cirebon alone, for instance, 350 people have signed up as BTPN Wow! agents, out of a total 21,000 agents distributed all across Java, Sumatra, Bali, and Nusa Tenggara.
Unfortunately, not everyone can become an agent. This is because, in addition to the administrative criteria, BTPN also has to impose a condition whereby there can be only one agent every 500 meters in a neighborhood. This is done to prevent any unhealthy competition arising between fellow agents.
“If we didn’t have this rule, in one neighborhood area (rukun tetangga) there could be more than one agent operating and this could lead to unconstructive competition between agents. If this happens, the agents themselves will end up losing,” Reza Rizal concluded. (*)