While some people have the money to realize the wedding of their dreams, others find themselves breaking the bank to make it happen. Wedlite, the first wedding financing platform in Indonesia, aims to solve this problem.
Despite various ethnic groups and religious beliefs, Indonesian weddings traditionally involve hundreds or even thousands of guests in ceremonies and receptions which can often last for days.
Indonesian nuptials are notoriously expensive, costing an average of US$6,000 or roughly Rp.87,000,000. A major problem, however, is that the average household income is only approximately US$284. A majority of Indonesians sacrifice their prized possessions, have to save up for years, or borrow money to pay for their dream wedding.
Unfortunately, those opting to borrow money are often rejected by banks. Founder and chief executive of wedding financing platform Wedlite, Abraham Viktor, reveals that banks will usually respond reluctantly to those seeking this kind of loan. “If people come to the bank and tell them that they want to borrow money for their wedding, the bank would be very defensive about it,” Viktor said.
Banks’ low approval rate for consumer loans motivated Viktor to find a better solution. In 2015, Wedlite was founded under the company Taralite. Wedlite provides digital consumer loans specifically for weddings, while its main company Taralite cares for other purposes.
“Wedlite is actually a part of Taralite. What Taralite does is provide online loans for wedding purposes under Wedlite. But they’re not only for weddings, also childbirth, education and more,” Viktor elaborates.
Viktor believes that both Wedlite and Taralite not only help people by providing loans, but also makes sure that they go through a more convenient process compared to borrowing from banks. As an online-based platform, Wedlite simply requires applicants to make an account on their website and fill in the form. Afterwards, customer service will call them to confirm the data submitted and arrange a schedule for survey. And within the next four or five days, the loan will be disbursed, unlike banks that could take up to three weeks for disbursal.
Today, the company has attracted an average of 300 applicants per month and a total of approximately 3,000 since it was established. Interestingly, 40 percent of Taralite’s costumers (which include Wedlite) come from Sumatra, although Viktor has yet to figure out how. “I thought our website is very high-tech and only people in Jabodetabek (Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, Bekasi) would feel familiar enough to use it, but apparently people in other areas are pretty comfortable using our website,” he says.
Wedlite’s very first customer discovered the website about three weeks prior to his wedding. As Viktor recalls, “He actually rushed us, he told us: ‘Frankly speaking I don’t know how to cover the remaining expenses of my wedding.’”
Another applicant, a public figure from a popular local television station, could not afford to pay for his wedding due to some internal issues with the station. Eventually, these people were able to carry on with their plans and were grateful for stumbling upon Wedlite.
Having said that, not all applicants are approved unless they have the capacity to repay the loan, which is shown in the amount of earnings per month and liabilities they currently have. In some cases, applicants do get rejected for their lack of repayment capabilities, and unstable income. Applicants, typically young people, who are still studying, not working, but are planning to get married would naturally get rejected. The same goes for people with unstable incomes, for instance multi-level-marketing agents.
Accordingly, Viktor notes that it is important to educate people to manage their money wisely. “As much as we want to help, I think it is also our responsibility to educate people about the hazards of over-borrowing,” he advises. If a person, for instance, earns Rp.10 million a month but has already spent half of it to repay the debt, then Viktor fears such a condition is unhealthy.
Along the way, Viktor realizes that weddings are not the only event requiring overwhelming amounts of money. Although many mistake him for supporting big weddings, he personally finds the whole process to be counter-productive, and instead encourages people to invest in areas that are far more crucial like healthcare and education.
In healthcare for instance, even those who are covered by the national health insurance scheme, Badan Penyelenggara Jaminan Sosial (BPJS), may not be entirely spared from the responsibility of paying for hospital fees. Viktor strongly supports people who borrow for the sake of their children’s future, including up to University level.
Both Wedlite and Taralite not only help people with consumer loans, but they teach people the value of investing in the long run. If a wedding is truly worth splashing out millions of rupiah on, one should at least remember that it is not the most important part of the journey and understanding where money should be invested is the key.
As Viktor says, “I think what matters is the marriage not the wedding, right?”
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