Journal Province: West Java Regency/City: Sukabumi Regency Subdistrict: Parungkuda

Traveling Bank

Written by Dian Komala
I will start it with the word ‘Bank’. According to the banking law, bank is a corporation which accepts the fund from people in the form of a deposit and channels it to the people in the form of a credit and/or other forms in order to improve the standard of living of people.  The word ‘bank’ can be traced back to the Middle French word banque or to the Old Italian word banca which means “bench, counter”. Benches were used as desks or exchange counters during the Renaissance by Florentine bankers, who used to make their transactions atop the desks. It was different from most people’s job which did not allow them to sit while working.

The women who gathered to borrow and deposit money.

The women who gathered to borrow and deposit money.

The stories from my hometown are endless and all of them cannot be separated from factories and the loan.

At Parungkuda, Sukabumi, there are many banks. The banks we know from advertisements everywhere, the ones which are approved by the government. Besides saving, we can also borrow money from them, of course with collateral. There are many items of collateral, such as land certificate, ownership certificate of motor vehicles, home certificate, etc. We just go to the bank and bring the documents which will be used as collateral. People in my hometown like the loan phenomenon so much. Not infrequently, someone is willing to use his house as collateral to borrow money.

The number of factory in my hometown makes people choose to work at the factory more than continue their education. Factory offers job opportunity, of course as a factory worker. This factory phenomenon reflects the structural poverty because of the government policy that allows the businessmen to open their business in my hometown, so they can exploit the human resources by hire them with low payment. But the government does not improve the education for the people in my hometown so many friends of mine decide to quit their education and then work as a factory worker.

The employees of the factory.

The employees of the factory.

The salary as a factory worker cannot fulfill their daily needs. So taking a shortcut by borrowing money with credit system becomes a phenomenon in my hometown.

Back to the topic about bank. Many factory workers cannot use something as collateral to borrow money from the bank. Seeing this phenomenon, small companies which can lend money without collateral then appear. I usually call them money credit. Money credit system that I’m talking about is the bank that exists around my family at Parungkuda, Sukabumi. There are some unique banks in my opinion, the banks which only lend money, such as Bank Keliling (‘Traveling Bank’) and Mitra Bisnis Keluarga (‘Family Business Partner’).

Traveling Bank is a bank that visits a customer, not the one that waits a customer behind the desk. There are many traveling banks around my hometown. In one day, two until three different banks can come to one house. I don’t know what companies those banks are from. I think these banks are unauthorized.

We don’t have to spend the time to visit a bank to save money, because the bank itself that will come to visit us. Traveling bank gives various offers to the people. By visiting houses offering people to borrow money from it, it’s enough for a traveling bank to publish itself through the chats among housewives. It takes advantage of the women’s habit of gossiping. The unnecessity of collateral to borrow money is also a quite enticing appeal, as it happens around my hometown.

The money deposit collector, who is called “Bank Man”, is usually a well-groomed man, wearing jacket and shoes and riding a motorbike. Every time we deposit the money, we will be given a piece of paper with number on it as a sign of the number of times we have already deposited the money. Traveling Bank is very popular among women.

One of the Bank Men.

One of the Bank Men.

The Bank Man recording the deposit.

The Bank Man record the deposit.

Besides Traveling Bank there is other money loan system, Family Business Partner (FBP). Although this FBP has a name and membership card, no one knows where it comes from. Maybe because the members think they don’t have to find out as long as they can borrow money. Only housewives may borrow money from FBP. And the money has to be for business.

Every Wednesday they gather around and utter the pledge that, in my opinion, is very funny. Their voices are still ringing in my ears:

“Member pledge, to be present on time, to pay each week, the business is approved by friends, business income is for the family, to be responsible together, and want to advance friends money when they have a payment difficulty!”

The women utter the member pledge.

The women utter the member pledge.

Only some women use the loan as the business capital. I know some women who don’t use the money for business, but to fulfill their daily needs. I am confused about this. If the money has to be for business, at least it has to be a report of the kind of business the money is used.

I had an opportunity to chat with some women who are members of FBP. Mrs. Lina (just call her that way) had borrowed money, but her business was invisible.

Lah terus duitna jeung naon?” (Goodness, so what was the money for?)

Atuh jeung dahar sapopoe!” (Well, for the daily meals!) she answered casually.

Emang na eweuh laporan kaditu jeung usaha naon?” (Shouldn’t you have a report about the business you’ve made?). There was no answer from her. She just smiled. I was more confused.

I asked the other woman who had small stall.

Minjem sabaraha?” (How much money did you borrow?)

Kur Rp. 750.000,” (Only 750,000 IDR) she answered.

Emang na mahi jeung modal warung?” (Was it enough to open a stall?).

Lain jeung modal pan! Meuli tanah eta, nu jadi gudang,” (It wasn’t for opening a stall! I used it to buy a land over there, and built a store) she answered while showing her store.

One of the FPB member's stall.

One of the FPB member’s stall.

Borrowing money from FBP had to be within 50 weeks time. No matter how much money we borrowed, we still had to pay for 50 weeks. Like that woman who bought a land, she borrowed money in the amount of 750,000 IDR and paid the installment for 18,000 IDR per week. So 18,000 times 50 weeks equals 900,000IDR.

“So, the interest is 150,000 IDR, right? Isn’t that difficult?”

“Of course not! The interest is 150,000 IDR but we have 50 weeks!” she said proudly.

It has been four years since FBP existed among women in my hometown. Now, many women complain about FBP’s system. But, the complaint is minor. It’s just because they don’t feel like gathering around every Wednesday. If they are absent for four times, they will be fined 1,000 IDR, 250 IDR for every meeting. But it does not have an effect on their laziness. Or maybe because the fine is only 250 IDR? What if the fine is raised to 5,000 IDR for once of absence? I am sure that they are already tired of the activity uttering the pledge every Wednesday. It doesn’t matter how much fine they are given.

However, they cannot let this FBP go just like that either, because it still has beneficial bargaining position for them. Yes, it is like this. The loan seems already become a benefit for those who borrow it. Not infrequently they turn over the money only for paying another debt. For example, they borrowed money from Traveling Bank. Because the deadline was near, they finally borrowed from FBP to pay off debt to Traveling Bank. And they will continue revolving around that circle without any attempt to improve their life so that they don’t need to live in debt anymore. The education is also still in the factory territory. In this past year, my friends who work in the factory have been increasing.

However, because the salary is not enough to cover the daily needs, so borrowing money without collateral becomes the endless solution. And the laziness to gather around uttering the pledge every Wednesday has to be put away whether they want to or not.

About the author


Dian Komala

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