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  • Going cashless in Indonesia

    Hello again, humans of this forum.

    Ok, so this is a question also inspired by time in China. China has Wechat/Alipay, they're kinda like Paypal in form but different in substance. In Paypal, maybe you maintain a balance, but you bring it out to your bank account, where with Wechat/Alipay, you just pay directly out of your balance using a QR code you scan with your phone. Yes Paypal has that function too. Venmo and Xoom and whatever in the West too. When you're anywhere but China, this seems not too important, because not many places use this. But in mainland China? Nobody even carries cash anymore.

    Bear with me, because I promise there's a good question at the end of this: the "difference is substance" is that in mainland China, if I buy a snack on the street, or I buy a drink at a bar, or I pay for a taxi, or I go to the supermarket, or really anything... I just scan a QR code and pay with my phone. This applies in tiny villages as much as in big cities. I use my wechat or alipay to scan their code, enter my pin, paid. I do not need cash. It is literally rare to see people carry cash now. It's April 2018, and in April 2017 this was not the case, but a year makes a big difference, and in China, cash is just...not a thing anymore. Yes people use it, but they're tourists and old people and poor people without smartphones, or otherwise just generally exceptions to the rule. You get dirty looks when you pay with cash ("jeez you're gonna make me look for change?" says the cashier. ver batim but translated) OMG the future, right?

    Well, we have an obstacle. Without a Chinese ID card or Chinese bank account, I can't use either! And I can't get a Chinese bank account without a long-term Chinese visa, student or work. I have to prove sponsorship by a school or company to get the bank account to get the bank card to get the permission to use the cashless apps. Ok, fair, fine, laws and regulations, and luckily I have those things, so I can use these apps, but the question then becomes...

    What about Indonesia? In Indonesia, good luck getting a bank account if you're not a resident, student, or employee. Again, fair, your country your rules, but...Gopay! Gopay is alipay/wechat!

    Now, Indonesia seems less strict that China in this regard - I can have 1j in my Gopay balance with no ID verification, 10j with ID verification. Same goes for Indomart/Alfamart/Familymart etap, in terms of currency limits. Not widely accepted YET, but I think soon. All offer in-person top-up, so I actually don't need a bank account (stfu China, making life hard for tourists, Indo wins this round, except for...). In Indo, you have etap cards, you have Gopay, you have...Uberpay? That was a thing for a time? Doesn't Tokopedia have a thing too? Paypal and Apple Pay and the usual Western suspects are in the mix too.

    Indo wins on variety of ecash options, loses on implementation, but the point is just to get there, so here's my question: how in the deuce do you use cashless pay in Indonesia as a tourist? Or even as a resident and citizen? What are the things to know, what are the hurdles, what are the obstacles, what are the exceptions? And yes, I know, bank cards, but...it's that thing where in China, I just scan a QR code, they don't know any of my details, there's no potential for fraud, the intermediaries take care of me and don't get my details, and it's exactly the amount listed on the menu/app, and there's no need to sign any slips of paper and no need for change. The future is here in China, the apps are there in Indonesia, how do I get to "not carrying around rupiah"?

  • #2
    Maybe I'm also being stupid in replying to my own post (I hope I'm not breaking a rule), but I'll give some examples - I got the indomart etap card, and so I can pay on the MTR and bus and tollway to the airport, and now if I go to Indomart I always pay with that card, hooray, no change (500 rupiah coins wtf, is that even aluminum, what are they even made of, and there's a 1k coin, why don't they give that out), but I can't pay at alfamart/familymart, I can't pay at bars, I can't pay with a phone app...OK fine so I got the alfamart and familymart cards too...got an Indo friend to open a separate bank account for me to deposit IDR and charge those cards & only withdraw what I need in cash...I can APPROXIMATE a cashless existence...but this is no Wechat "scan and go" experience. I can't buy warung food, pay for an angkot, or get my down-low Orang Tua (shhh). I need cash for certain things. Not so in China.

    And this might seem like a tiny thing, but consider this - people ask for tips, I whip out the card & ask for receipt, tip demands vanish. I pay for my grab/gojek/uber through app balances, drivers are never short of change. People say they need money for a ticket to Surabaya, I directly buy one on Traveloka. Someone in Jakarta offers to help my car u-turn in traffic, I show him a Gopay QR (usually met with a shrug, but c'mon, scan me bro, I'm not saying I won't tip you (500 rupiah coin is the usual rate btw, handed out the window)...but the legality of that income might be up for debate!). The same thing happened to me in China 2016-2017. By using cashless apps, the "tourist price" and tip requests got squished out of existence, refunds and complaints were 10x easier, I have many less coins, blah blah. If you're going to be in Indonesia a lot, and I am, these are important things to know!

    Comment


    • #3
      I think you just answered your own question. In Indonesia, 100% Cashless payment is not (yet) a thing. There are still plenty of goods’ & services’ providers that are not providing cashless payments (hell, some fast food restaurants don’t even have square readers. Go figure). Now, I don’t know about your lifestyle and your expenses in Indonesia, but as a local, going full on cashless is a bit risky. I ride my motorbike anywhere. If fate decided to be funny and made my tire flat in the middle of nowhere, i’d be SOL without cash. Most tire fixing service you see by the street don’t accept cards (let alone QR scanner). Same thing for Warung and such.

      If you plan on living the full Indonesia experience, it will be hard to go full on cashless. You can try (by using gojek/uber everywhere, only shops at giant/indomaret, only eat at places that accept cards), but eventually there will be times when you will need cash (and you don’t wanna end up being that one bule with no cash).

      So yeah, as a local, my $0.02 would be ‘”when in Rome...’”

      Maybe some expats here can share more enlightening insights..

      (BTW, that Orang Tua wine bit made me chortle)

      Comment


      • #4
        I don't have any of these "Paypal" , "etap' , "Gopay" things , so jerkmember please tell me : do you save money by being cashless ? If not I personally will prefer to carry my credit card + some cash , instead of a smart-phone (less weight/volume in my pocket) . Besides that , the smart-phone can fail or have an empty battery .

        Also , although I think it is not fair to the people who cannot afford having a credit card (and so should be prohibited) , in Indonesia sometimes you get price discount if paying with a credit card .

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        • #5
          Originally posted by marcus View Post
          I don't have any of these "Paypal" , "etap' , "Gopay" things , so jerkmember please tell me : do you save money by being cashless ? If not I personally will prefer to carry my credit card + some cash , instead of a smart-phone (less weight/volume in my pocket) . Besides that , the smart-phone can fail or have an empty battery .

          Also , although I think it is not fair to the people who cannot afford having a credit card (and so should be prohibited) , in Indonesia sometimes you get price discount if paying with a credit card .
          I agree with Marcus especially his last sentence. Many restaurants give big discounts to credit card holders. My wife's girl friend has just about every credit card issued in Jakarta and when the 'girls do lunch' she pays to get the discount and the other ladies give her cash. She doesn't need credit so pays her CC bills automatically....as do I.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by marcus View Post
            so jerkmember please tell me : do you save money by being cashless ? If not I personally will prefer to carry my credit card + some cash , instead of a smart-phone (less weight/volume in my pocket) . Besides that , the smart-phone can fail or have an empty battery .

            Also , although I think it is not fair to the people who cannot afford having a credit card (and so should be prohibited) , in Indonesia sometimes you get price discount if paying with a credit card .
            Do I save money? Sometimes, a little through Gopay when I order Gojek/GoFood/GoThings, but I'm coming from the "China cashless experience", which is entirely QR code scanning and ewallets you top up from your bank account. It doesn't really touch on or affect credit cards, although it's certainly possible to link your card to those ewallets and earn those discounts anyway...sometimes... But the point is that in China, wechat and alipay are ubiquitous because everyone had wechat and alipay already when they rolled out the ewallet feature (wechat because...imagine if whatsapp or Line had a payments feature, it's more popular than whatsapp, alipay because everyone shops on Taobao (Taobao=Tokopedia=ebay), and Taobao only accepts payment through alipay, just like Paypal and ebay all those years ago). They were already the "default" services for other things, so they caught on incredibly quickly.

            Take Pixelmeow's example, "If fate decided to be funny and made my tire flat in the middle of nowhere, i’d be SOL without cash. Most tire fixing service you see by the street don’t accept cards (let alone QR scanner). Same thing for Warung and such." - in China, the tire fixing service by the roadside might not accept cards, but he has wechat and a phone, so I can pay him. Same with the warung. Most small shops simply have their store's code printed out on the counter, and you scan it with your phone and enter how much to pay them. You don't have to get your wallet out (or even carry it), they don't have to give you change or own a card reader or scanner of any kind. The "cash register" is a cardboard box under the counter. Bigger shops, chain stores, and the rest have QR scanners, in which case you get out your phone and they scan your code, even faster. Crowded bar or busy restaurant? Same thing. Bartenders & restaurants love it, because it's one less trip to grab your change. Taxis love it because no sitting there while I fish for money. I love it because no fake bills, no wrong change, no over/under-charging, and records of every transaction.

            In China, it's everywhere! Literally! You can't escape it! Even if you you want to use cash, if you go out for dinner with your friends, someone will split the bill (because of course wechat has that feature), and if you say "I don't have wechat pay", you'll get dirty looks. Dirty looks like that pushed me into it. Pulling out cash is like lighting a cigarette in a kindergarten.

            Coming from that system to Indonesia was a huge culture shock.
            - "Uber bike trip is 9,000, I pay him 10,000, and he just smiles and rides off with my change?" (Yes jerkmember, rounding up is normal, and why didn't you get small change ready, says my Indonesian friend. The next time I paid in small change, why do you have so much small change, just let the extra 1,000 go, goblok kelit, Indonesian friend says.)
            - "In rush to airport, taxi driver asks if I have toll card, but I'm the passenger? Why would I have a toll card? Then driver stops at Indomaret to top up?" (Yes jerkmember, why would the driver have a toll card for YOUR trip, you should have one, says my Indonesian friend.)
            - "At restaurant, sorry credit card reader is broken, bill is 2.5j (it was a very good meal), nearest ATM's are across the mall and take 15 minutes to find, and only give 50k bills, so it takes 50 papers to pay for my meal, which my money clip can't even hold, and then I need more papers for the taxi home?" (Yes jerkmember, why didn't you have cash and a wallet, says my Indonesian friend.)
            - "Take TransJakarta to a stop then angkot to another, use Indomaret toll card (??it pays for highway tolls and the bus??this is a card for drivers who take the bus??) to pay TransJakarta because TransJakarta takes no cash, but not for angkot, angkot only takes cash?" (Yes jerkmember, why do you think an angkot would have an etap reader, Indonesian friend says.)
            - "My phone runs out of data, so I have to go to Alfamart to top it up? Or, alternatively, I have to go to Alfamart to top up my Gopay to top up my phone credit? Or, alternatively, I have to go to Alfamart to put cash in the ATM so my Indonesian friend can top up my phone through his/her banking app?" (Pick me up some potato chips and a root beer, I'm hungry, Indonesian friend says.)
            - ALL THE COINS. After a few weeks I had enough coins to fill a sock and beat myself to death. (Yes jerkmember, but let me do it, I'm so sick of your dumb money questions all the time, Indonesian friend says.)

            It was an even bigger shock to find out that Gopay exists and completely replicates the features in wechat, but that no one uses Gopay, even though...who doesn't have Gojek? Everyone has Gojek! On top of that, all the big banks seem to have their own etap cards, in addition to the convenience store chains...and the dozens of other random ewallets...and then you can buy stuff online and deposit cash in ATM's for the unbanked (hi last minute DWP tickets)...and yes, the credit cards and constant discounts! But each ewallet has its own discounts and points scheme too! I had to relearn cash, and then learned that actually, oddly, no, there are surprise cashless times! It's the Spanish Inquisition! No one expects it! Sign up for one for a discount! Oh wait, you can't, you're a tourist. :|

            Apparently some stores in Plaza Indonesia are now accepting Alipay. For a 3% surcharge & goofy exchange rate. :|

            I cannot deny that my phone battery dies sometimes, but it's 2018 and I'm not leaving the house without it + my other phone + a power bank + charging cables...mostly so I can use Google Maps to find the nearest ATM, and my other phone in case my first phone breaks and I get lost on the way to the ATM.

            Can you see the little cartoon stars circling my head? Help!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Davita View Post
              ... Many restaurants give big discounts to credit card holders ...

              To me governments around the world should issue regulations prohibiting things like that . We already see that the gap between rich and poor people are increasing in most part of the world , which may cause (or is already causing) public rebellion against the way things are .

              To me it is clearly an absurd that benefits the rich . The businessmen have to pay a fee (maybe 3% to 5%) to the credit card operator + wait , in many cases , up to around 45 days to get the cash of the things they sell , so how can they still charge (people paying with a credit card) less than they charge people paying immediately in cash ?
              Last edited by marcus; 2 weeks ago.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by jerkmember View Post
                Do I save money? Sometimes, ... It doesn't really touch on or affect credit cards, ... But the point is that in China, wechat and alipay are ubiquitous because everyone had wechat and alipay already when they rolled out the ewallet feature ... in China, the tire fixing service by the roadside might not accept cards, but he has wechat and a phone, so I can pay him. Same with the warung ... I love it because no fake bills, no wrong change, no over/under-charging, and records of every transaction ...

                Obviously if a lot of people are using that means there is some advantage . From what you say , it seems it does affect credit cards/debit card . It seems a cheaper fee for the small shops . I am in favor of anything that saves money competing with credit/debit cards . I also see that many small food sellers handle food and cash , which is not hygienic .

                Cash are not hygienic and cost money to the government/society , so I think that an universal cashless tool would be good . it complicates a little If some accept only Paypal , some accept only Gopay , some accept only Wechat , some accept only Alipay , ...
                Last edited by marcus; 2 weeks ago.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by marcus View Post
                  To me governments around the world should issue regulations prohibiting things like that . We already see that the gap between rich and poor people are increasing in most part of the world , which may cause (or is already causing) public rebellion against the way things are .
                  To me it is clearly an absurd that benefits the rich . The businessmen have to pay a fee (maybe 3% to 5%) to the credit card operator + wait , in many cases , up to around 45 days to get the cash of the things they sell , so how can they still charge (people paying with a credit card) less than they charge people paying immediately in cash ?
                  You may not like it Marcus but this creates competition and entrepreneurship in a capitalist democracy. The alternative (failed) is communism/socialism where the state, and those who have power, control everything and there is no choice.

                  Airlines, for example, make more money from selling seat-miles to credit card companies than they do from the average passenger. That created an alternative business model that works...... budget airlines..... where almost everyone can fly.

                  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...les-than-seats

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Davita View Post

                    this creates competition and entrepreneurship in a capitalist democracy. The alternative (failed) is communism/socialism where the state, and those who have power, control everything and there is no choice.

                    Airlines, for example, make more money from selling seat-miles to credit card companies than they do from the average passenger. That created an alternative business model that works...... budget airlines..... where almost everyone can fly.

                    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...les-than-seats
                    A finer-grained view on this is (and I suppose the "ethics" of why to use cashless systems, although...I...already spend too much time on the "how" to worry so much about "why") - consider that companies like Visa, Mastercard, and others are really nothing more than data carrier networks. Credit cards as a concept originated in store and brand-specific loyalty programs, which were in turn a development of credit lines and tabs, which go back as long as human history. Back in the dark ages of the 1950's-70's, before the internet, Visa & Mastercard came along in the US to combine loyalty programs, credit lines, and payment plans into one big nationwide (and then worldwide) network. The 1980's came along, everything got computerized, and Visa & Mastercard's per-transaction costs went down to very tiny amounts...but then, they were the market incumbents, and for decades, in the 1990's and early 2000's, they squished other businesses while taking those 3-5% cuts and making huge profits. By then, they were data centers, and in theory, anyone could set one up, but Visa and Mastercard (and AmEx to a lesser degree) were vicious about protecting their monopolies. Anyone, anywhere, could set up a competing data network, but Visa & MC used (and still use, where legal), non-compete contracts with merchants and banks to maintain their monopoly. In the US, there was eventually regulation, but it took a few decades, and to this day doesn't quite have the teeth it should. That regulation is why you have things like fraud protection on Visa and Mastercard credit cards. They certainly don't spend the money it takes out of the goodness of their hearts. They are as evil as they can be, and they used to be much more evil. Add the 1970's-1990's period in there, when there really were no good alternatives to the US dollar for "world's currency" (now you have Euro/CNY/JPY/GBP and some other stable economies & currencies), and you had the perfect storm for Visa & Mastercard to take over the world.

                    Well, then Japan got rich, then the Euro happened, then China got rich...and each of them has their own banks and carrier networks, and as their tourists started to go abroad, so did the associated networks (JCB for Japan, a few more for Europe, UnionPay for China), each of those networks was a direct competitor for Visa and Mastercard. Then the internet happened, PayPal & its ewallet progeny grew, then the mobile revolution happened, and now there are hundreds, if not thousands, of services that do the same thing all over the world - move money around electronically. Visa/Mastercard, and many credit cards, are offering those discounts because they're fighting hard to stay relevant. The newer entrants like Gopay and Wechat are offering their own discounts. Cryptocurrency...lol, it's in the mix somewhere too.

                    Regulations and laws certainly matter, but they're a big, clumsy, slow tool. It took 20 years of credit card fraud before the US put laws in place limiting consumer liability. In the meantime, we as consumers can, and I think should, choose and promote tools that cut down on the power of the credit cards, banks, and big finance. If I use something like Gopay, I know that I'm denying money to Visa, and supporting a competitor. Yes, Gopay is evil too (at least most ojek drivers will tell you it's evil), but I'd rather have more competition than less, and without laws in place, that's something I can do. Many cashless systems have the added benefit that where they can, they bring discounts and deals that are as good as, if not better than, what credit cards offer, and they don't require a minimum balance or credit check or going into debt to do so. The downside is that they don't always continue to do that, and you have to switch platforms every 6-12 months. Wechat used to offer what they called "random discounts", where you'd buy something, anywhere, and get $0.10-15USD (1-100 RMB) off your purchase. Alipay did the same. In 2018, now that they're ubiquitous, they don't, but Jingdong Pay (what? who?) does do this.

                    "Cash are not hygienic and cost money to the government/society , so I think that an universal cashless tool would be good . it complicates a little If some accept only Paypal , some accept only Gopay , some accept only Wechat , some accept only Alipay , ..."

                    Yes. In China, you can do just fine with Wechat & Alipay. If you really want to get in there and game the discounts and fight the power, there's a universe of credit cards and other payment platforms out there, but only Wechat & Alipay are "required". Where convenient, I certainly do have those! In Indonesia...it's...vastly more complicated! Sometimes etap is needed (tollway to airport + TransJakarta + Indomaret points + some restaurants), sometimes Gopay (9k rupiah off a 30k GoFood order is not small, but I could pay in cash), sometimes cash, sometimes a bank account (which I can't get without a KITAS/P, which...I'm a tourist c'mon...except I hear that sometimes you can?). That's why I posted this question - how does one navigate the mad world of Indonesian cashless apps and systems without losing your mind?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Davita View Post
                      (1) You may not like it Marcus but this creates competition and entrepreneurship

                      (2) in a capitalist democracy. The alternative (failed) is communism/socialism where the state, and those who have power, control everything and there is no choice.

                      (3) Airlines, for example, make more money from selling seat-miles to credit card companies than they do from the average passenger. That created an alternative business model that works...

                      (1) Davita , I don't see competition , and it is a bad entrepreneurship , isn't ? The way I see it , the restaurant that do this have to raise the prices to compensate for the discount it gives to the credit card users (the clients who pay cash subsidize the clients getting the discount) .

                      (2) The way I see , all countries are (or will be) capitalist . Even Cuba started to be capitalist (I don't know North Korea , but it is maybe the only one that is not) .

                      (3) The discrimination in this case is very small as poor people normally don't fly (those poor people who do fly usually are able to get a credit card) .
                      Last edited by marcus; 1 week ago.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by marcus View Post


                        (1) Davita , I don't see competition , and it is a bad entrepreneurship , isn't ? The way I see it , the restaurant that do this have to raise the prices to compensate for the discount it gives to the credit card users (the clients who pay cash subsidize the clients getting the discount) .

                        (2) The way I see , all countries are (or will be) capitalist . Even Cuba started to be capitalist (I don't know North Korea , but it is maybe the only one that is not) .

                        (3) The discrimination in this case is very small as poor people normally don't fly (those poor people who do fly usually are able to get a credit card) .
                        1. The way I see it is the restaurant discount is offset by the CC company so it can 'profit' from the CC owner if they 'carry' the credit. The customers that benefit are those with the card who don't 'carry' the credit line....like my wife's gal-pal and myself. If my theory is correct..... it's the client who uses credit that subsidizes the client getting the discount.

                        2. I agree...many countries use Socialistic-style government but Capitalistic economies...China for example.

                        3. In Indonesia really poor people, who cannot obtain a credit card, also don't usually frequent the restaurants that offer CC discount.

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                        • #13
                          1. I don't know how it is arranged , it may be an agreement between the restaurant , the bank , and the credit card (Visa/MasterCard) . Although you may be right , I still think that the most affected are the ones who pay in cash at this type of restaurants .

                          3. I already saw 2 of these type of restaurants where I can eat something for around Rp35'000 , so I suppose poor people can afford eating there a few times .

                          Each country may define "poor people" differently , but I am sure many people in Indonesia still don't have a credit card .

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