JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s financial regulator said it was considering setting a cap on interest rates and the size of loans offered by fintech firms, in a move aimed at minimizing the risk of defaults.

Representations of the Ripple, Bitcoin, Etherum and Litecoin virtual currencies are seen on a PC motherboard in this illustration picture, February 13, 2018. Picture is taken February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The emergence of these peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms, offering loans ranging from as little as a few hundred dollars to several thousands, has so far been welcomed by Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s biggest economy where tens of millions of people have little or no access to bank credit.

More than 300,000 people have borrowed from these firms, with total loan distribution reaching 3 trillion rupiah ($218 million) as of January, versus 247 billion in December 2016, according to data from the Financial Services Authority (OJK).

Meanwhile, annual growth in bank lending has slowed to under 10 percent, from over 20 percent in the commodity boom years.

‎”We support P2P lending so the people can have an easier access (to financing). But when the access has been easier, the P2P companies feel the need to offer a high rate,” Eko Ariantoro, the director of the financial inclusion development directorate at OJK, told reporters on Tuesday.

“We don’t want these developing fintechs to become loan shark-like businesses‎,” he said.

Ariantoro said the proposed maximum lending rate was still under discussion.

There are 36 registered fintech firms operating in Indonesia and OJK said 42 others were in the process to be approved.

The OJK plans to also issue a new regulation for crowdfunding platforms this year as part of efforts to protect customers’ fund, Ariantoro said.

‎”We are trying to regulate the mechanism to acquire and collect fund. There should be a form of responsibility to the fund owner,” he said.

($1 = 13,750 rupiah)

Reporting by Tabita Diela; Editing by Himani Sarkar


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