Apia, Samoa – Accessibility and the belief that they cannot afford to save, have been two of Samoa’s biggest impediments to financial inclusion in Samoa.

With only 39% of the population having any form of access to a financial service, a new product released today could be key to reducing Samoa’s “unbanked” population.

EziBank™, is the National Bank of Samoa’s (NBS) newest and only product on the market that connects Digicel’s mobile money platform to a bank account.  EziBank combines NBS’s banking services with the payment services available through Digicel Mobile Money.

Co-funded through a grant from the United Nation’s Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP), the product allows customers to check their bank account balance, save their remittances received via Digicel Mobile Money into their NBS bank account, make deposits and withdrawals between their Digicel and NBS accounts.  This can be done on all types of mobile phones using a USSD menu.

The new product was launched by the New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa, Mr. Nick Hurley. He said the product would offer Samoans an easy option to receive remittances especially from family members residing in New Zealand and offers another opportunity for Samoans to adopt a savings culture.

During the launch, NBS Chief Executive Officer Mr. Tu'u'u Amaramo Sialaoa said the bank is leveraging digital financial services technology to deliver better services for its customers.

“These new services will reduce the cost of transacting for our customers. It also means that they do not need to travel long distances to the nearest branch, where they may have to wait in a queue to conduct even basic transactions.  As a locally owned bank, our goal of financial inclusion is to provide nationwide access to safe and convenient financial products and services to the under-banked in Samoa,” he said.

PFIP’s Samoa-based Financial Inclusion Coordinator Iris Kissiti said “with a mobile penetration rate of 78% of the population, using digital financial services is the most appropriate channel to reach Samoa’s unbanked, especially those in the rural areas”.

EziBank™ is accessible via the Digicel Network short-code *888#. Registered customers get to see option 6 on the menu which gives them access to their NBS bank account.

PFIP’s work in Samoa has been funded by the New Zealand Government.

 

About National Bank of Samoa
National Bank of Samoa is a licenced Bank in Samoa that operates to provide Samoans with greater access to banking services via new media such as mobile phones, internet banking and smarter ATM’s. It also has goals to facilitate a positive change in Samoan's attitude and approach to saving and investment, and to lower the costs of banking in Samoa resulting in lower loan rates and a greater return on savings.

For more information

Tu'u'u Amaramo Sialaoa, Chief Executive Officer, National Bank of Samoa; phone: +685 776 8334; email: tuuu@nbs.ws; website:  http://www.nbs.ws

About PFIP

PFIP is a Pacific-wide programme that has helped 1.78 million low-income Pacific islanders gain access to financial services and financial education. It achieves these results by funding innovation with financial services and delivery channels, supporting policy and regulatory initiatives, and empowering consumers.

PFIP operates from the UNDP Pacific Office in Suva, Fiji and has offices in Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Solomon Islands.  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.

For more information
Erica Lee, Communications Associate, PFIP, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji; tel: +679 3227538; email: erica.lee@undp.org; website: http://www.pfip.org

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