Indonesia opens first state-owned bank branch in Taiwan
Taipei, Nov. 30 (CNA) Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), one of Indonesia's largest state-owned banks, opened its doors to customers Tuesday after officially launching its first branch in Taiwan, which is home to a large Indonesian community.
The Taipei branch -- the first opened in Taiwan by any Indonesian state-owned bank -- will initially target Indonesian nationals in Taiwan and businesses with ties to Indonesia, the branch's business manager M. Baiquni Husein told CNA.
The branch, located in downtown Taipei, will first focus on encouraging Indonesian migrant workers to open savings accounts, Baiquini said, especially because 60-70 percent of them already have BRI accounts in Indonesia.
But Indonesians hoping to use the bank to make overseas remittances will have to wait a little longer, Baiquini said. The bank is in the final stages of getting approval for the service and should be able to offer foreign remittances next year.
It could eventually be a main driver of the branch's revenue. Taiwan was home to 240,628 Indonesian migrant workers as of the end of October, and they remit around 7 to 8 trillion Indonesian rupiah (US$487.79 million to US$557.98 million) home a year, according to Endry Supriadi, the branch's general manager.
A challenge for the bank in promoting that business, however, will be to offer competitive remittance fees.
According to Indonesian workers contacted by CNA, they often use Indonesian stores or go through friends who have access to remittance applications to remit money home, and the fee charged is relatively low, ranging from NT$100 to NT$200 per transfer.
Baiquni said the bank expects to be competitive in this area and offer faster money transfers by keeping the end-to-end remittance chain within the bank's network rather than having to rely on other banks.
Though the sizable migrant worker population is expected to be an attractive customer base for the branch, Endry said it also hopes to act as a bridge for Taiwanese or Indonesian expatriates in investment-related matters.
After obtaining permission from Taiwan's central bank, BRI hopes to offer foreign currency deposit accounts, issue letters of credit, and open investment opportunities for Taiwanese in Indonesia, he said.
"We have seen the flow of investment from Taiwan to Indonesia increase, and some big companies from Taiwan are interested in establishing factories in Indonesia," Endry said.
Established on December 16, 1895 in Purwokerto, Central Java, BRI focuses on micro, small and medium enterprises and has thousands of outlets and branches across Indonesia.
The Taipei branch was not only its first in Taipei, but just its third overseas branch in East and Southeast Asia, following units in Singapore and Timor-Leste, according to Norman Lubis, BRI Taipei Branch's public relations manager.
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