An exciting project to connect mobile banking to the coconut industry was launched today by the Australian Government, Pacific Financial Inclusion Program (PFIP) and ANZ Bank.
The SBD 5 million dollar program (US$650,000) will connect rural coconut oil producers, laborers, buyers and transport operators with digital finance as the coconut industry in Solomon Islands expands.
At the moment, most people working in the coconut industry live in rural areas, far from existing banking services. Payments are conducted almost exclusively in cash, and this creates significant challenges for both buyers and sellers.
Delivering his key note speech at the launch, Governor Denton Rarawa of the Central Bank of Solomon Islands said” CBSI is pleased to support this innovative approach to digital banking penetration in the country and leveraging the coconut value chain offers much promise for expanding banking to remote rural communities. This initiative by PFIP & ANZ bank fits very well into the current National Financial Inclusion strategies and will accelerate achieving the objectives”
“Through this project, thousands of rural Solomon Islanders will find it easier to manage, save, and grow their incomes better by having access to simple, fast payments and transfers,” Acting Deputy Australian High Commissioner and Minister Counsellor Dr. Jasmine Cernovs said at the launch.
“Australia is pleased to support new opportunities for improving access to finance to people and small businesses in rural Solomon Islands.
This partnership between Australia, PFIP and ANZ will allow the unbanked rural population of Solomon Islands to access formal financial services such as savings, credit and payment services delivered to customers through their mobile phones for the first time.
“If the project is successful, we hope to replicate the solution in other sectors, potentially simplifying payments for thousands of people living in remote areas,” Dr. Cernovs said.
PFIP will support the ANZ initiative as part of its portfolio of innovation labs that employ human centric design approaches to developing new digital products & services. PFIP Manager Mark Flaming announced that “We are excited about working on this project with ANZ bank as well as their third party agency manager PGCL and Kokonut Pacific. It will be one of our premier innovation initiatives in the Pacific, and we are investing high quality resources into making this a success”.
To boost mobile banking usage in the coconut industry, ANZ will engage 60 community producers from Kokonut Pacific Solomon Islands as goMoney cash merchants and create mobile banking accounts for 900 people.
“With these clusters as early adopters, the project’s target is then to attract a further 24,000 new customers from Solomon Islands communities and surrounding villages over the next two years,” PFIP Financial Inclusion Specialist Krishnan Narasimhan said.
The Australian Government contributed 60 per cent of the project costs (US $395,000) through PFIP with the remaining balance of US$255,000 is co-funded by ANZ.
PFIP is a Pacific-wide programme helping low-income households gain access to financial services and financial education. It is jointly administered by the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and receives funding from the Australian Government, the European Union and the New Zealand Government.
PFIP partners have added more than one million Pacific Islanders to the formal financial sector by supporting policy and regulatory initiatives, innovation with financial services, and delivery channels, conducting market research, and by strengthening financial competencies and consumer empowerment.
PFIP operates from the UNDP Pacific Centre in Suva, Fiji and has offices in Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Solomon Islands.
About ANZ goMoney
ANZ goMoney™ is a mobile banking service that allows customers to access their ANZ accounts securely from their mobile phone.
ANZ has rolled out the goMoney digital channel + cash merchant network in PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, signing up nearly 150,000 customers between 2013 and the end of 2015. The mobile technology enables customers to make cash deposits and withdrawals with their bank accounts at cash merchants and conduct transactions directly on their mobile phones.
In Solomon Islands: Krishnan Narasimhan - firstname.lastname@example.org
In Fiji - Erica Lee – Communications Associate; Tel: +679 322 7538; Email: email@example.com Website: www.pfip.org