Digital Payment as Urban Lifestyle of International Students During Pandemic COVID-19

The purpose of this study is to describe the behavior of International students in Indonesia and in United States during the COVID-19 pandemic particularly on the use digital payments. Data were primary collected using virtual participant observation and interviews through Zooms application. This method shows that communication through technology becomes more important during COVID-19. The results show that the digital payment application system are perceived to be safer from a public health perspective because do not require physical contact, and are used report being more comfortable using digital payments than cash but there is also the potential for fraud with digital payments.

This research took place in Jakarta, Indonesia and Louisiana, USA via online conversations using the Zoom  with students of Bina Nusantara University and University of Louisiana (UL) Lafayette.  This study used virtual participant observation and Forum Group Discussion (FGD) through Zoom meetings. FGD point out the main criteria that developed the  online in-depth interviews through the Zoom. Key person of FGD was applied to seven (7) International students in  Bina Nusantara University  from the Netherlands, China, Taiwan, Korea, France, and Finland; and to thirteen (13) UL Lafayette students from Nigeria, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia.

From the observations and interviews of students, their primary reason for using digital payments is the perceived ease of use, which is the extent to which they believe that using digital payments will be free from effort. They also indicated that they believe that using digital payment applications will enhance their performance experience. The level of intensity of students to utilize digital payments is very high. The technology system can say effectiveness, because all payment transaction able to do well and faster than cash and it is going to be useful for the activity of people. The system used depends on the people’s behavior intention. It is descriptive of someone who is preparing to take a system by individual or collective. Behavior intention used is construction of some dimension, such as performance, attitude, trust, and perceived risk.

Therefore, International students in Indonesia and in the U.S. have different lifestyles in the use of digital payments. Perceived Ease of Use encourages international students in the U.S. to use digital payments, even when not in a pandemic. Students in the U.S. use digital payments for all transactions because it is easier for them than having to go to a bank or ATM. Common digital payment applications used by students in the U.S. include Venmo and Apple Pay. The use of Venmo, Apple debit or credit card, etc., is widespread in the U.S.  While such use is not as widespread in Indonesia, COVID-19 has led to an increase in digital payments, and fewer human contacts. Purchases using the OVO or Go-Pay application and other applications are on the rise.

Venmo is becoming more popular for U.S. students, and banks have made it easier to trade on smartphones. This trend shows a continuing increase in digital transactions. The convenience of this digital payment method has been felt by students in Indonesia and in US. Stay at home mandates have seen a rapid escalation in the use of digital payments by college students who are taking their classes online. The need to maintain social distance in these two countries keeps students at home, conducts learning activities and interacts with their communities by online. Students enjoy this activity and do not require having to meet physically.

Digital payment systems have proven to be perceived as beneficial, easy to use, especially for international students who are in other countries and must stay at home. In the United States, students have become accustomed to all transactions with digital payments even before the COVID-19 case. However, in Indonesia, some activities have become digital only as the effect of COVID-19. Digital payment application systems are perceived to be safer for health because they do not need physical contact, and are more comfortable than using cash, but in fact there is also the potential use of fake accounts that can harm the owner of funds because transactions are used by other parties who are not responsible. While consumers in the U.S. largely have recourse to protect themselves against fraud that can result from digital payments, Indonesians have less protection from fraud and thus protection of consumer data is increasingly needed for Indonesian students.

This research was funded by Binus University, Jakarta as the International Research Scheme, with contract number:  No.026/VR.RTT/IV/2020, date: 6 April 2020; and University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Louisiana in 2020.

Fransisca Hanita Roesgowanto