Jakarta. The founder of diversified business conglomerate Lippo Group, Mochtar Riady, said Indonesia is more than able to establish international standard banks, making special mention of Bank Central Asia, one of his successful creations and now one of the country's foremost modern banks.
Mochtar, at 89 years old one of Indonesia's most renowned bankers, said his motto of "chasing a horse by riding it" had worked well for him during the early days of Indonesia's modern banking industry.
In those times, he established many private banks, including Bank Central Asia — better known by its acronym BCA — and Bank Panin with his business partner Liem Sioe Liong, aka Sudono Salim, the founder of instant noodle maker Indofood.
Before founding BCA and serving as its vice president director for 15 years from 1975, Mochtar started his career in the banking industry when he joined an ailing Bank Kemakmuran in 1959, bringing along five partners to improve its balance sheet.
He later joined Bank Buana in 1964 and worked there for seven years before establishing Bank Panin — now one of the top 10 Indonesian lenders in terms of assets — by merging Bank Kemakmuran, Bank Industri Jaya and Bank Industri Dagang Indonesia.
Once Bank Panin was in the black, Mochtar moved on to another project: creating a clearing house that might match England's or Indonesia's central banks.
"Poundsterling used to be the world's reserves currency during the second world war. That naturally turned Bank of England into a clearing house for world trade. I had the ambition to create a clearing house for trade in Indonesia, outside of Bank Indonesia," Mochtar told bankers at BCA Learning Institute in Sentul City, West Java, on Tuesday (10/10).
With Sudono Salim, Mochtar founded BCA in 1975, a bank that now commands the largest market value in the country. When it started off, BCA catered to only one industry, but now it handles 86 downstream and upstream industries.
"Customers were flocking to us [BCA] because we offered a breakthrough service: when other banks were offering a 40-day remittance service, we started off with a same-day service," Mochtar said.
Mochtar, who was born in Malang, East Java, said Indonesia needs highly-principled bankers, good bankers who will give back to the country by creating employment opportunities for people.
"The other type is the successful banker who seeks only profit but is morally corrupted and lacks an ethical approach in doing his job," Mochtar said.