Each year, approximately 50,000 workers from the Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB) (West Nusa Tenggara) Province in Indonesia go abroad to work. Their main destinations are Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. In addition, many workers seek work in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea. These workers usually have little education. The Human Development Index (HDI, HDI Human Development Index) for this province is low; the index rates the region 32nd out of 33 provinces in Indonesia. Such a low HDI indicates that most of the population, including the poor, has little education.
Remittances have been key for the livelihoods of the families that workers leave behind. There are different ways to send money home: In the past, sending money to friends or acquaintances through surrogates who are returning home accounted for a large portion of remittances, although the exact proportion is unknown due to a lack of official statistics. Delivery through bank transfers and other modern electronic methods (Western Union, Money Gram, etc.) is already widely known to workers. In addition, asking for friends’ help is still common. It is not known with certainty, however, how much money is sent through friends and Tekong (unregistered sender/agency workers).
Transactions with the bank and post office are not easy for remittance recipients.
They need “someone” who can help.
In order to understand how the workers’ families learn about new technology, we surveyed 200 poor remittance receivers in the NTB province. Receiving remittances through banks is preferred because although users cannot conduct their own transactions, there are private services (usually motorcycle drivers) who are "knowledgeable about transactions with banks”. Families receiving remittances pay a fee to the motorcycle taxis of around 50-200 thousand per transaction (including the return transport) to facilitate the transfer. Receiving money through Western Union (WU) is also favored by families of migrant workers, because the process is easier: there is no need to open a bank account, no need to carry a passbook, and it is sufficient to show an identity card (ID) and enter a pin code (which is usually a PIN sent via SMS) to receive the money. WU also has more strategic locations and is affordable for families of migrant workers. WU is available in various banks, Indomaret mini markets, and pawnshops. WU locations in the post office are also common and accessible. The number of post offices in NTB province is 79 units, consisting of 4 post offices, 56 post office branches, 10 additional post office units, 2 mobile postal units and 7 sub-sub office branches. WU at pawnshops have more accessible locations because they are available everywhere. There are about 128 outlets in NTB province. These pawnshops have relatively flexible hours, since they are also open on Sunday, meaning that they are accessible all week from 10am-8pm.
The stages along the path to the use of new technology are also interesting to observe. Do the remittance recipients have bank accounts or mobile phones first or do they use both concurrently? If they begin using a mobile phone first then they may need a bank account to save money. If remittance recipients begin with a bank account and then use a mobile phone to receive a PIN transfer, it usually indicates that they are looking for flexibility in accepting a transfer: not necessarily through the bank but through a variety of media discussed above. These processes have not been explored in the survey, therefore there is no definite answer to how to process remittance recipients' adoption of modern technology in the transfer of money.
|A "tekong" helps a remittance recipient navigate the cash transfer process.|