FINANCIAL TECHNOLOGY | Cesar Tordesillas, Indonesia

Bank Indonesia sees need for e-money regulations

Bank Indonesia is calling for regulators to monitor purchases and banking transcations made through cellphones.

More mobile-phone operators, from Telkomsel to Indosat and XL Axiata, now allow users to make transactions with their phone credits.

Ronald Waas, an accounting and payment director at the central bank, said that people who make payments with mobile phone credits are bartering and should be regulated carefully.

With the number of e-money users has surged from 400,000 in 2007 to about 11.3 million in August, up 43 percent from a year earlier.

Up until now, the central bank has viewed telecommunication e-money like “tokens.”

“It’s like when you go to a children’s playing zone, you buy tokens that you can use there, but outside the area it is unusable,” central bank spokesman Difi A. Johansyah said.

Difi said regulation was necessary to monitor the safety and of people who use e-money. For commercial banks, the central bank set a Rp 5 million $555 cap on each e-money transaction to prevent fraud, but it does not have the authority to regulate non-banking companies with similar e-money services.

Mobile phone providers are regulated by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology and the Indonesian Telecommunication Regulatory Body.

Consumers have complained recently of being registered for premium text messages or ringtone services without their consent, and often without realizing they were being charged for it.

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