The basement food hall in one of Jakarta's office buildings.

Digital Payments = business revolution

Associate Brett McGuire explores the impact of digital technology on the Indonesian market beginning with something as simple as buying lunch in the local food hall.

Last Monday, I headed down to the food hall in my office basement and encountered a large poster promoting GoPay, one of the Indonesia’s most popular e-wallets. I have to admit that I have been a bit slow in trying out GoPay or its main rival Ovo, but in a matter of months the promotional posters have become omnipresent in restaurants, convenience stores and, I suspect, food halls in office basements across the city.

The woman selling me my regular pecel and ice tea was keen to show me how simple e-wallets are. I scanned a QR code using the GoJek app, entered the bill amount (a grand total of Rp 24,000 AUD $2.40) and pressed “pay”. She checked her phone, smiled and handed me my lunch.

I suppose this probably sounds pretty mundane to those of you alreading using pay apps on your phones,  But in a country where 60% of people in a nation of 264 million don’t have bank accounts, this is revolutionary. Until last week, the woman selling me my lunch and the 4 other food vendors in the hall were part of Indonesia’s enormous informal economy. This week they have sales records and are paying tax.

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