2022 – Interview with Bank BRI’s Wholesale & Institutional Business Director, Agus Noorsanto – Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards



In this Q&A Interview with Bank BRI’s Wholesale & Institutional Business Director, Agus Noorsanto, he discusses his career and the bank’s history, as well as its digital transformation journey.

Question: Please briefly describe your career trajectory.
Answer: I started my career at Bank BRI in 1990 as part of the accounting and finance staff. My responsibilities included compiling financial reports, coordinating activities related to financial statement audits and establishing bank asset and liability management policies, as well as doing initial public offering (IPO) stock launch activities for clients.

After 16 years I wanted a change and to expand my knowledge, so I went into operations to become a branch head to a regional CEO who was responsible for all bank targets ranging from loans, funding, fee- based income with small firms with asset sizes of up to Rp80,000 (US$5.40), across a 400 branch estate.

Subsequently, I served as Senior Executive Vice President of Networks and Services in the banks and Director of PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia Agroniaga which is a subsidiary of Bank BRI.

My main responsibility now is to lead the Institutional and Wholesale business as its Director. I manage institutional relationships and cooperation, both support and business focused in nature, in order to mobilize funds and fee-based income to help us and our business clients to thrive.

Q2. Thanks for describing your career journey, what about the history and journey of the bank?
A2. BRI Bank was established in Purwokerto, Central Java, Indonesia, on 16 December 1895, so we’re an old and well-established bank that is now woven into the fabric of the country. Indeed we have been in public and private hands during our storied history.

From a humble beginning, managing mosque cash to be distributed using a simple loan scheme, BRI grew to become the first state owned bank in Indonesia in 1946. We officially became a limited liability company on 1 August 1992, with 100% government ownership.

In 2003, however, the government decided to sell 30% of the bank’s shares and made the bank a public company under the official name of PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia (Persero) Tbk, which is the name we still use today. BRI entered the micro business segment in 1969 setting up local branches and units as it was appointed by the Indonesian government as the only bank to disburse its Mass Assistance (Bimas) subsidized rural credit program. This was closed in 1984, however, so the bank successfully transformed its activities in this area into a profitable commercial micro banking system.

MSMEs & financial inclusion
BRI is generally considered to be the first bank in the world to provide commercial financial services (FS), such as savings, loans and other products to millions of economically active poor and lower-middle-income households, so financial inclusion is in our DNA.

Starting with around 1000 outlets mostly located in rural areas, BRI heavily expanded the number of branches and outlets in future years because being accessible was important for this micro-SME (small-to- medium sized enterprise) segment.

In 2009 all BRI outlets connected real-time online and embraced modern technology-based approaches to banking, further increasing the outreach of the MSME segment. We’re the bank in Indonesia that focuses on this area and leverage all our extensive physical and digital networks to serve it.

Our over-arching bank wide vision is to “become the most valuable banking group in Southeast Asia and a champion of financial inclusion”, continuing to provide sustainable value to all our stakeholders.

As part of this mission, we are a big believer in technology and are in the middle of a modern digital transformation at the bank so that we can better serve our MSME and other customers across the bank 24x7 and with speed, efficiency, convenience, with good rates and so on – all by deploying technology.

Q3. Tell me about the on-going digital transformation of the bank?
A3. Well, the BRIVolution 1.0 as we call it, began in 2016 with a focus on digital and culture transformation, as we believe innovative agile thinking is as important as having flexible tech systems, data tools and so on. Getting the best talent and freeing them to do their best work is important. Successes include:

  • Digital payment ecosystem: has been rolled out to increase Current Account Savings Accounts (CASA) and fee-based income as transactions become easier, quicker, and more convenient and frequent thanks to digital banking online and on mobile phones via the roll out of apps, contactless functionality, remits and so on. Accessing and accepting these types of payments is important in the 21st century.
  • BRIAPI: the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) have always been a feature of banking but previously it was a closed and limited fashion to power an internal data migration for instance from one server to another as part of an upgrade project, or to provide connectivity to the SWIFT cross-border payment network.

However, the modern trend towards open API usage where data is shared more widely to prioritize consumer service, comparisons and competition is now evident in the widescale uptake of Uber and other apps that rely on open API data exchange.

Banking is being revolutionized by this trend too as financial comparisons and connected banking experiences on a single app, with partner services on it, become more common. It is easier to partner with fintechs using this model. BRI Bank is embracing this trend, enabling wider and easier partnerships with fintechs and electronic e-commerce providers.

BRIVolution 2.0 is now underway, partly in response to the Covid-19 pandemic accelerating our digital adoption to continue to serve customers even during lockdowns and disruptions to normal branch- based services.

We’ve kept our commitment to grow Micro & SME businesses. But we believe we can ‘Go Smaller’, ‘Go Faster’ and ‘Go Shorter’ in terms of our turnaround times for new product launches, service envelopes for customers, targeting of them with better tools and so on.

BRIVolution 2.0 has an omnichannel hybrid bank business model that leaves no-one behind while prioritizing the future.

This means we combine physical presence via extensive outlets with electronic e-channels and branchless banking via the BRILink Agent scheme for example and offer experienced financial advisors, which can also act as a digital advisor advancing digital adoption. Our digital program has three main pillars and aims:

  • Digitizing the core: so that internal systems are more flexible, scalable, and connected – and therefore better able to deliver improved front-end customer-facing
  • Digital platform ecosystem: as described earlier when I was discussing open APIs. These can power an ecosystem of services on our bank’s platform, with some services such as budgeting tools for instance developed with fintech partners, and many of our services available on others’ platforms – for example, instant payment or loan options on e-commerce websites.
  • New digital proposition: a standalone ‘greenfield’ digital service is being developed for the future as branch usage slowly declines. This helps the bank learn and navigate the migration towards a more digital future as present trends escalate.

"BRI is considered to be the first bank in the world to provide commercial financial services, such as savings, loans and other products to millions of economically active poor and lower middle income households."

Q4. How has technology impacted your sector & company: is it a threat or opportunity? Is being digital first now a necessity & how is the bank set for future?
A4. The digitalization of business processes and products is an opportunity. BRI Bank is using it to enhance market penetration and the effectiveness and efficiency of our operational activities.

The three pillars just described lead our efforts. The high capabilities, differentiation, and economies-of- scale possibilities at BRI Bank as we combine our scale with new technologies like cloud hosted computing, artificial intelligence (AI) powered data analytics and so on are immense.
The Directorate of Institutional and Wholesale Banking unit that I lead break down the strategy into four activities that we are addressing simultaneously via our:

  • Go-To-Market strategy and execution of digital tool delivery and internal capabilities.
  • Journey transformation is important as people, technology and processes must all be aligned. The emphasis is on the client experience (CX) as this is vital in the connected environment we are entering where open APIs power constant data exchange and delivery of connected, seamless services.
  • Talent management, leadership and culture impact innovation, agility, speed to market and the prioritization of CX, so it must always be front and center. Technology will never change this basic fact – people and their ideas, leadership, and skills matter.
  • Evaluation and enhancement mean that our on-going digital journey will be focused and scalable for the future as new tools and services our added to a more flexible platform.

The Directorate of Institutional and Wholesale Business is deeply involved in BRI’s transformation in terms of human resources, with a new organization that has been designed to implement key performance indicators (KPIs) having a crucial role.
We also conduct continuous learning, as well as evaluate and improve rollout, training, and other agile techniques as we advance.

Meanwhile, from the digital side, product improvements are carried out through the Transaction Banking Division who are delivering several product innovations within the framework of seeking new growth, up-tiering customers as a value chain and loyalty is created, seeking partnerships and brand extensions. Some new products across the entire bank include:

  • Virtual Account services that facilitate flexibility in payment scheduling, client reconciliation, and other such processes (see separate BRI Bank win, page ??);
  • Enhanced BRICAMS cash management system with more analytics and cash concentration capabilities;
  • BRIstore to embrace the platformization of banking;
  • & Corporate billing management improvements. Our liquidity management solutions are also being improved to enhance client cashflow management and add a fast account opening procedure to a secure and reliable banking platform that can better support fast, data-rich customer transactions in current accounts with linkages to a multitude of businesses’ and business services.

Our commitment is to complete the digital journey, away from branches and paper-based procedures with the promise that ‘no one gets left behind’, while we work on delivering the future and obtaining high-quality future-proofed operating balances.