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Here’s a general mindset of Indonesians, in action. The individual rather than the group, the specific issuer rather than the brand.

Conversation I had in a retail store yesterday, trying to purchase a steering wheel lock for my wife:

Me: (hands over item)

Clerk: That’ll be Rp. 155.000, 00

Me: (hands over MasterCard)

Clerk: (ponders over the card for awhile)

Clerk: Where is this from?

Me: What is where from?

Clerk: This card, which bank?

Me: Canadian bank

Clerk: Oh, foreign huh? (Note: Is there a territory named Canada in Indonesia I wonder???)

Me: Yeah

Clerk: Have any other card?

Me: No, what is the matter?

Clerk: I’m afraid this might not get processed

Me: (It’s a MasterCard for crying out loud, it should be accepted anywhere a MasterCard logo is displayed!!!)

Me: Of course it’ll go through, it’s a MasterCard, doesn’t matter who or what issued it!

Clerk: (Runs the transaction through and what do you know, it works) (duh!).

This is quite mind boggling for me. Somehow the clerk’s concept of a credit card is still wrapped around the fact that it’s issued by a specific bank instead of a bank using the MasterCard brand, as if a MasterCard issued by a foreign bank would be rejected just because the transaction is in Indonesia. Such a narrow mindset makes me wonder just how ready Indonesia is for globalization.

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