Indonesia, trailing just behind the United States as the fourth most populous country in the world, has a large and growing bitcoin community. The vast population is 80 percent unbanked, and their Rupiah is one of the most-traded currencies for bitcoin worldwide already. Bitcoin.com interviewed Suasti Atmastuti Astaman, the Business Development Manager of Indonesian bitcoin exchange Bitcoin.co.id.
Also read: Here Are Bitcoin’s 8 Fastest Growing Markets
Majority Market Share
Bitcoin.com (BC): What’s your market share of the Indonesian bitcoin market?
Bitcoin.co.id (BI): We have more than 229,500 members with daily growth around 100-150 members.
Our daily transaction volume can reach up to 1.5 million USD per day. And we are listed as one of the biggest Bitcoin exchanges in Southeast Asia.
I believe we control for more than 70% Bitcoin transaction in Indonesia, considering we are the biggest Bitcoin exchange in Indonesia.
Indonesian Bitcoin Market
BC: Can you describe the bitcoin market in Indonesia?
BI: The majority of members in our Bitcoin exchange serve as Bitcoin traders, rather than Bitcoin users. They buy Bitcoin in intention to gain profit and use it whether for a short-term investment, a long-term one or perhaps both. They trade quite often, buying Bitcoin when the price is low, and selling it again when the price increases.
There are a lot of people in Indonesia that love to take profit from trading, not just cryptocurrency, but also stocks and foreign exchange. Apparently, they love Bitcoin just as much since the price tends to fluctuate a lot. For people who love the idea of Bitcoin as a new form of money, they are going to hate knowing that there a lot of people taking profit from Bitcoin trading but that’s the fact and it contributes quite a lot to our trading volume.
Our daily trading volume usually reaches 5 to 10 billion Rupiahs when the Bitcoin price is stable, but the second it goes back to being volatile, we can process until 20 or even 25 billion Rupiahs per day.
But of course, there are also people who buy Bitcoin in order to shop (mostly online) or to make transactions in various MLM or money game websites.
Main Uses of Bitcoin
BC: What main uses of bitcoin are you seeing in Indonesia?
BI: As I have mentioned before, it appears that there are more traders than actual Bitcoin users. It is not allowed for Indonesian people to pay for something within the country using any other currency other than Rupiah—not US Dollar, not Yen, and definitely not Bitcoin. But even so, Bitcoin merchants keep appearing in Indonesia and there are also a lot of our members that use Bitcoin to pay for Internet and electricity bills, top up their cellphones balance, book a plane ticket, etc.
Personally, as we are serving in a country where there are at least 80% of unbanked people in the market due to our vast region and there are more than 250 million people in term of population with remittance market cap reaching around 7 billion US dollar a year, it is only right if we try to use Bitcoin to support remittance services and make it easier, faster and cheaper for people to transfer money from anywhere around the world to Indonesia or vice versa.
We are serving in a country where there are at least 80% of unbanked people in the market.
Digital cash such as Bitcoin will allow people to hold their own money without involving any third parties—this surely will make them interested in giving it a chance. I believe there will be a lot of people in Southeast Asia, where there are thousands of people working overseas and transferring money back home, who will find Bitcoin exciting and a great way to transfer money.
BC: What does the Indonesian government say about bitcoin?
BI: Other than giving an official statement about how they see Bitcoin, which you can see here, the Indonesian government hasn’t made any important moves to restrict or facilitate bitcoin transactions in Indonesia.
We are allowed to trade Bitcoin and treat it like a digital commodity, but they [the government] do encourage us to be careful toward it.
Since Bitcoin is not treated as a currency, we cannot pay for something with Bitcoin in Indonesia (the government only allows Rupiah as a legal payment instrument in the country). This is why almost every merchant in Indonesia that accepts payments in Bitcoin, automatically converts the Bitcoins they receive into Rupiah and send the money into their bank account. This way, Bitcoin pretty much works like credit card and thus, does not violate the rules from government.
With no clear regulation, we’re operating as a marketplace that obeys the usual regulation regarding financial transactions in Indonesia which is collecting their ID, asking their sources of funds and the purpose of their transactions. We do this to comply with the KYC in order to prevent money laundering happening within the country using Bitcoin.
Future Adoption Prospect
BC: How fast are you expecting bitcoin adoption to grow going forward?
BI: With clear regulation, minimum amount of bad press, and huge effort in marketing? Soon, I guess. Even without those three, people are starting to love bitcoin more and more and treat it as a great way to invest. They start reading news about what’s happening around the cryptocurrency world in other countries, and there are a lot of positive news nowadays to keep Bitcoin interesting and people engaged.
By the end of this year, I predict there will be at least one million users in Indonesia with daily transaction volume reaching 3 million USD per day.