In West Java, Indonesia, we have been following a local microfinance institution (MFI) named Cooperative Baytul Ikhtiar (BAIK) that has been using cash for their transactions. To address issues around security, the USAID e-MITRA project has been trialing the migration of some of BAIK’s manual systems to digital financial services (DFS) in partnership with Indosat.
e-MITRA continues its digital village project in Pamijahan, a sub-district of Bogor, West Java this month. Now that several meetings have been held with the members of BAIK’s savings and loan groups, it’s time for e-MITRA to meet with BAIK loan officers.
The loan officers meet with members of the savings and loan groups every week to field participants’ questions and resolve any problems, making it crucial that they receive adequate training in DFS.
An Eager Crowd
Last January, e-MITRA and Indosat organized two training sessions for about20 BAIK loan officers.
Officers are relatively young, no more than 30 years old, and are very eager to learn about DFS ecosystem development. Unlike the cooperative members (all women), most of the loan officers are men.
“This is because officers have to bring a lot of money when they visit the loan groups… The risk of robbery and theft is bigger for women,” explained BAIK treasurer Titin Prasetyawati with a slight smile.
One of the women officers is Siti Sutihat, or Ihat, who showed us the rituals performed during loan disbursement when we visited BAIK a few months ago. We saw how Ihat rode her motorcycle to make her daily rounds from one house to another, traveling alone through remote areas with more than IDR 1,500,000 worth of cash in her backpack.Ihat was very enthusiastic to attend the training to learn more about DFS and how they can make her daily routine easier.
e-MITRA senior manager Eky Amrullah started the training with an introduction to DFS. It didn’t take long for loan officers to start asking questions like, “What will happen if we lose our phone?”, “Where can we use this digital cash?”, “Will the cash-in and cash-out point work?”, and “What will happen if we lost signal during our transaction with the cooperative members?”
The loan officers were all very excited to learn more about DFS, especially when they figured out that they can also use these services to pay bills and tickets and create their own business.
After the first training session, some of the loan officers expressed interest in using DFS to buy daily necessities like milk, soap, and rice in modern retail chains like Alfamart and Indomart and were curious to find out if DFS are actually available in their area.
Buying Groceries using DFS
e-MITRA and Indosat teams kicked off the second training with an open sharing discussion so they could learn about BAIK loan officers experiences with DFS.
It turned out that modern retail chain employees said DFS were unavailable when the loan officers tried to use the services at the nearest modern retail chains. This hiccup was quickly remedied after the Indosat team briefed store employees on DFS. This experience proved that creating a DFS ecosystem is not a one-man-show and different players in the industry need to be aware of their part in order for implementation to be smooth and migration successful.
Loan officers also asked more troubleshooting questions related to problems that arose when they first tried DFS and took diligent notes – fully realizing that cooperative members will most likely ask questions to them during the first weeks of DFS implementation.
The second session concluded with a successful group field trip to the nearest retail store to take turns performing DFS transactions. This session helped young loan officers realize how convenient DFS are, and they can’t wait to start using it in their daily rounds to cooperative members.
After finishing the training sessions for loan officers, the next step is to give a brief introduction of DFS to 250 members of the savings and loan groups. To make it more effective, e-MITRA and Indosat team will brief 25-50 members every week, and finish the introduction sessions in 1.5 months.
This post is the third installment of an ongoing blog series following the journey of the women of Pamijahan as they make the transition from cash to digital money.
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