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A bank clerk in Indonesia

Nila Windi Hastari is 31 and works in a bank in Yogyakarta in Java, which is the most important of Indonesia’s 1,000 or so inhabited islands, contributing more than half of the country’s GDP. 

Any citizen over 17 can open a bank account with 100,000 Indonesian rupiah (about €6), yet only one in three adults has their own account. Hastari studied social and political sciences at the renowned Gadjah Mada University. She lives with her parents and has no children.

Income, basic costs and pension provision

Hastari has a monthly salary of €280 but she gets a bonus for signing up new customers. During the first six months of this year, she averaged €350 a month. The bank provides free health insurance for her. She pays income tax of €32 and €13 in pension contributions a month. She gives her parents €49 a month, leaving her with about €537 a month.

What does work mean to you?

It is how I earn my money. I am proud of the important part I play in the bank.

What is the most important thing in your life?

Good health, and being able to share my good fortune with others – with my parents, neighbours and colleagues.

What are your biggest problems and how do you deal with them?

It is difficult to find new customers. The state-owned mutual savings bank has many more possibilities, because it also has branches in the villages. We don’t. That’s why I go to markets and shops, and approach people there directly. Also, I want to get married and I have to save at least €3,500 for the celebrations. I cannot live with my partner until I’m married. We need a house and a car, and we must set aside money for the children we plan to have.

How do you give yourself a treat?

I go shopping with my colleagues, or visit a café or a restaurant. My colleagues are also my friends.

What do you want from the future, and what are you doing to achieve it?

I would like to be my own boss. I am planning something completely new: I would like to open a laundry that picks up from customers’ homes and delivers their washing back to them clean. I am saving money for that, too.

What would you do if you didn’t have to worry about earning a living for a whole year?

I would travel to Mecca with my parents.

Why do most Indonesians not have their own bank account?

Because they don’t see any benefit in it. Two-thirds of people here work in the informal sector; they receive their wages in cash and pay everything in cash. They could open an account, but the charges are usually higher than the interest they would receive. People prefer to spend their money rather than saving it.


Population: 260 million
Currency: Indonesian rupiah (IDR)
(Annual average exchange rate in 2016)  (1 euro = 14,721 IDR)
GDP per capita: €3,276 (£2,915)
Human Development Index 2016: 113th place
(Germany: sixth place out of 188 countries, UK 16th)

Current average costs

1 serving of nasi goreng €1.76
1 can of Coca-Cola €0.26
1 can of beer €2.93
1 bus journey €0.23
1 kilo of beef €6.50
1 kilo of bananas €0.65