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Conceptualizing financial capability: evidence from Indonesia

Arief Wibisono Lubis (Department of Management, Faculty of Economics and Business, Universitas Indonesia, Depok and Centre of Development Studies, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK)

International Journal of Ethics and Systems

ISSN: 2514-9369

Article publication date: 4 February 2021

Issue publication date: 3 April 2021




This paper aims to investigate how microfinance institutions’ clients in Indonesia conceptualize financial capability. Previous investigations on the concept were mostly in the lenses of those in the developed economies.


A qualitative method was used, in which focus group discussions (FGDs) and interviews were conducted with microfinance institutions’ clients and management in four provinces in Indonesia: DKI Jakarta, DI Yogyakarta, West Nusa Tenggara and South Sulawesi.


The results exhibit some similarities with those of previous studies that highlight the importance of financial management and financial planning for strategic purposes. However, financial literacies perceived as less important due to the lack of awareness of the concept and its benefits.

Research limitations/implications

This research is only focused on certain groups of the population which implies its limited generalizability. One important implication is for policymakers and scholars to re-examine the value of financial literacy within the context of Indonesia. Although the interviews reveal skepticisms on the instrumental value of financial literacy, robust investigations are further needed.


This study is the first that uses the participatory method to define financial capability as understood by microfinance institutions’ clients in Indonesia.



This research is supported by the generous funding from Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education (Lembaga Pengelola Dana Pendidikan Republik Indonesia), Wolfson College University of Cambridge, and Centre of Development Studies University of Cambridge. All errors remain the author’s.


Lubis, A.W. (2021), "Conceptualizing financial capability: evidence from Indonesia", International Journal of Ethics and Systems, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 301-317.



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