In a country where mobile phone users outnumber bank accountholders, Indonesia’s PermataBank is banking on its super app to attract the unbanked and underbanked population into the Islamic financial system on the back of a national financial inclusion agenda.
PermataBank has launched PermataMobileX, an Islamic banking super app supporting over 200 features including access to Shariah compliant savings, Hajj savings and investment services. Pioneered by Chinese social media and messaging app WeChat, a super app is a single digital platform that houses multiple apps, providing users with various services under one umbrella.
“We see a high demand from users and enthusiasts of Islamic banking services for a sophisticated and modern super app. Therefore, we present a Shariah-based super app that has complete features and sophisticated technology and is up to date that can support the lifestyle of modern Indonesians yet still remains simple and easy to access,” Ridha DM Wirakusumah, the president director of PermataBank, explained.
The app allows digital onboarding of new customers, QR-enabled payments, credit card and personal financing application as well as non-financial related features such as booking flight tickets and hotel accommodation.
PermataBank’s venture into the realm of super apps rides on a global trend of non-bank financial players entering the financial space, who are leveraging their lifestyle apps to offer payment services. In Indonesia, start-up GoJek is a prime example: originally a digital ride-hailing platform, the unicorn has evolved to become an on-demand multiservice platform offering payment solutions as well as food delivery services, among others.
Indonesia’s 264 million-strong population is an increasingly digital-savvy one, with 48% using a mobile phone and 56% considered as active internet users, according to data from Hootsuite. Contrast it with the fact that most Indonesians remain outside the banking system (66% are unbanked according to industry statistics), the opportunity for digitization to drive financial inclusion in Indonesia becomes particularly compelling. Banks (and the Indonesian government) are quick to realize this massive opportunity: a 2017 McKinsey report pointed out that Indonesia outperformed its Asia Pacific peers in digitizing financial services, while Hootsuite data from January this year indicated that 61% of the country’s 150 million internet users perform banking services on their mobile phones.
This digital dynamic is even more pronounced for Indonesia’s Islamic banking sector, which despite its favorable Muslim demographics, has only managed to acquire less than 6% of the total banking market share. By positioning its banking app as a lifestyle app, PermataBank is capturing the changing behavior of Indonesians and this is hoped would move the needle in favor of Shariah banking services.