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A Korean Hustler’s Story: Making Indonesian banking great.

Photo by Muhammad Rizki / Unsplash

Myoung-Joon Lee (MJ or Mr. Lee) remembers his first trip to Indonesia regarding the TransJakarta project in 2009 while working as a staff in a South Korean credit card company. His team members focused on the output of the feasibility consultation project itself, but he focused on other things: Various credit/debit card POS terminals in a restaurant.

I saw 8 POS terminals in a particular restaurant. It is customary in South Korea to see a single POS terminal. But Indonesian citizens thought the inconvenience as usual. I thought the integration could be an ample opportunity in this market and look into Indonesia’s market.

He joined BC Card in 2001. At that time, South Korean citizens were issuing credit cards instead of cash usage under the government’s policy promotion. His experience as a customer support team in the Busan area – the second-largest city in South Korea- showed him how customers act on the financial institution’s policy and guidelines.

Furthermore, he knew how terminal integration is complicated among stakeholders from the terminal integration management system project.

During his Indonesian TransJakarta project, he fell in love with the market, where he can adapt, transfer knowledge, and make things work as a hustler.

I fell in love with the Indonesian market.

Most South Koreans select their second English names like John, Peter, or Jason. Instead, he applied as Country Manager of BC Card and made his English name Bambang, a common name in Indonesia. And he continuously focused on the Indonesian market. He worked with the nation’s largest telco regarding RFID transaction service or various stakeholders within the nationwide and local financial institutes. And it led to BC Card-Mandiri Joint Venture, Mitra Transaksi Indonesia, in 2016.

During the mid-time, upon KT’s request, MJ was in Kyiv, Ukraine, regarding the Ukrainian bank’s consultation, FIDO Bank. He experienced pros and cons during the project with FIDO. And that made him make another decision in his life.

I am using two smartphone devices, the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy Series. In 2010, the Android OS device itself was trash compared with the iPhone. But you feel more open ecosystem when you are using Android more and more. Ukrainian colleagues were trying to cover their backwardness from the open ecosystem. I was looking for some market to adopt the open platform in the financial sector.

In 2017 he started his company called PT. Mitra Jasa Lima. And he began his movement as a Korean hustler. He was making the Indonesian Financial market into an open space.

Why is an Open Banking Platform needed?

Digital transformation in the banking and financial industry is positively related to regulations, especially for countries in a developing stage.

Each stakeholder would like to drive the market’s digital transformation to maximize its profit in the ecosystem. But, eventually, the direction and the market shape are biased by the regulator’s policy.

Big commercial banks, rural banks, and fintech startups form the Indonesian finance market. There are 1,579 rural banks in Indonesia, with 6,000 branches and 20 million customers in August 2019. The rural banks lack competency within the digitalization experience or internal competency. Therefore, most of the fintech players are targeting the customers of rural banks in Indonesia.

Big commercial banks have their competency and marketing power against fintech players, while fintech players disrupt the legacy of 1,579 rural banks in this market. So does the idea start if the standard platform for rural banks is being provided? What if the rural banks are being united over the medium? Can they compete against commercial banks or fintech players?

What is Open Bank +, and the progress so far?

The Open Banking Platform enables rural banks to interlink with various services over the platform provided by PT. Mitra Jasa Lima. Based on its API, financial products, P2P lending, payment, digital wallet, monetary exchange, and other banks/fintech products are interlinked via the Open Banking Platform, Open Bank+. As a result, the rural banks can easily ally and sell the 3rd parties aligned product to their original customer.

Currently PT. Mitra Jasa Lima partnered with Generali Insurance Indonesia, PT, PT. FINNET  INDONESIA, BPR Rifi Maligi, and BPR Kreo Lestari. All partnership talks have slowed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic since March. However, the number of Open Bank+ participants has doubled by weeks since October.

Whether his love for Indonesia and his vision as “Open” make something great shall be as a pioneer in the market? Let us see what happens.