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Embracing the Future

In Focus
NAME:Jahja Setiaatmadja
COMPANY:Bank of Central Asia (BCA)
POSITION:President Director
LOCATION:Jakarta, Indonesia
By fostering collaboration with fintechs and players from the world of ecommerce, Bank of Central Asia President Director Jahja Setiaatmadja has set the organization on an innovative path to success.

There was a time when Jahja Setiaatmadja’s hair bristled at the mere mention of the word ‘fintech’. Around 2015, fintechs started to make their presence known, and its impact on the traditional way of doing things represented a concerning unknown for the Bank of Central Asia (BCA).

“I was truly very scared of fintech companies at that time, because I heard they will eat up all the business of the banking industry,” the BCA President Director tells The CEO Magazine. “But as they came into the market, we gradually learned how they work and operate.”

Having understood the complementary nature of this new generation of companies, his fears were assuaged as he began to see the immense potential it offered BCA. By embracing collaboration with these players and those from the world of ecommerce, Setiaatmadja has not only secured the future of the company he leads, but has also played a key role in laying out the road map for the next era of banking.

This process of cooperation is one that BCA continues to strengthen today.

“Ecommerce is complementary infotech. These companies need banks to assist them on the payment system, on the funding side, on the customer side,” he explains.

A New Dawn

BCA also has grown to need these platforms as well – a mutualistic symbiosis that requires cooperation to thrive. With most e-wallets linked to a bank account, any fees generated are shared between both parties, which offers a ‘win–win’ fee-based income for the bank that didn’t exist 10 years ago.

“We get a lot of new fee incomes from ecommerce,” Setiaatmadja says. “Ecommerce has become a good customer of BCA. We work together, we grow together and we make profit together.”

It’s an essential shift, particularly as the needs of its client base continue to evolve. Indeed, BCA has weathered many storms in its 66-year history, but now its biggest challenge is adapting to an increasingly digital landscape.

“We work together, we grow together and we make profit together.”

“Our customers are the most important stakeholders in BCA,” Setiaatmadja stresses. “We’re able to reap success because of our good relationships with our customers, because banking is a service and the most important factor in a service is relationships.”

This is where digital comes in. With the power to enhance connections with BCA’s existing client base, and to reach the younger generation, Setiaatmadja is making bold yet tactical steps to harness the latest technology.

“Because BCA started the business in 1957, and has already been around for 66 years, our customers range from 17–95 years old,” he says. “So we can’t only offer a conventional service, we have to adapt to the new direction but not dramatically change or digitalize.”

Steady Evolution

This measured approach is critical, according to Setiaatmadja. Going in too hard and too fast could be disastrous for the bank, but so too is not acting fast enough.

“All of our senior customers will leave the bank if we force them to use sophisticated application systems. So we have to be very flexible in providing services to our customers. We have to look at their needs and the usability,” he explains.

“We have to address all the products that we have. Sometimes what we have to provide is duplication work, but that’s essential. We should make the customer happy and make sure the hard work is on the bank’s side, not on the customer.

“It’s easy for us to have only one product, very easy for us, but consequently the customer will have quite a lot of difficulties, which is why we have expanded our approach.”

“We have to be very flexible on providing services to our customers.”

Teamwork is essential to delivering on this front, with Setiaatmadja looking to a leadership philosophy set out by Robert Greenleaf in his 1977 book, Servant Leadership.

“As a leader, we need to light the way to help all of our employees to reach our goals together,” he explains.

“You have to educate them, let them be involved in making decisions. That’s a learning curve so that, in the future, they’re able to make the right decisions.

“In the beginning, maybe one or two make a false or wrong decision but they have to learn by themselves, and at the end of the day, they should be able to make the right decision in the future.”

Never has this been more important than it is now in our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.

With the playing field in a state of constant flux, BCA’s innovative business agility is what will keep the bank on top of the latest trends and will aid in removing the fear associated with the inevitable changes ahead.

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