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Indonesia bans sales promos via SMS, phone calls

Publication Date : 06-06-2014


Banks, insurance companies and other financial services firms in Indonesia will now have to find new strategies to promote their products, following a new rule from the Financial Services Authority (OJK).

OJK recently issued a letter forbidding promotions via text messages and telephone calls.

Consumers annoyed by the number of loan offers and other promotions sent through text messages welcomed the move.

Axel Faturrahmansyah, a Jakarta resident who welcomed this development, said the frequency of the messages he was receiving had become so intense that he considered them more than spam.

“Say I want to take out a loan. Would I rather seek professional advice with a good sense of security or an [anonymous] person who keeps spamming me day in and day out?” he said on Thursday.

The practice, according to Axel, is a nuisance.

In a letter dated May 14 but was made public only on Wednesday, OJK chairman Muliaman Hadad told businesspeople in the banking, capital market and non-banking sectors that their product offers via text messages and phone calls had become “unsettling” to the public.

“The OJK has identified that product or service offers through SMS or phone calls are mostly carried out by third parties that cooperate with financial-service businesses,” Muliaman wrote.

He added that the practice was conducted without customers’ consent, as their data were allegedly obtained irresponsibly from various sources.

With the issuance of the letter, the OJK has instructed businesses to stop all ongoing practices and review their existing contracts with their counterparts.

During an event on Thursday, Muliaman admitted that he himself had once fallen victim to the practice.

“I received similar text messages with credit card and KTA [non-collateral loan] offers. They arrived when I was in the middle of meetings,” he said.

The OJK is currently holding talks with the Communications and Information Ministry to establish a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to allow further action to be taken.

Customers will also be able to file requests to the OJK, asking that the “spammers” be blocked.

Commenting on the OJK’s announcement, Bank Central Asia’s (BCA) individual banking director, Henry Koenaifi, said the lender would comply with the regulator’s requirement to provide consumer privacy and protection.

BCA has around 12 million customers but it has not devised a new strategy to promote its products.

“One thing is certain, we will have to encourage customers to contact us via our call center,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bank Mandiri’s micro and retail director, Hery Gunardi, said the state lender already provided options for customers regarding product marketing.

“Customers visiting our branches can choose to share their personal data for product marketing purposes,” he said.

Those who wished to reverse their decision were welcome to update their preferences via the bank’s call center, according to Mandiri’s consumer cards group head, Boyke Yurista.

Separately, Allianz Life Indonesia’s corporate communications chief, Kiswati Soeryoko, said the insurer would stop offering products through telemarketing if the OJK decided to ban the practice.


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