2 January 2014

Pacific banks go branchless to reach the unbanked

Bankers see it as key driver in financial inclusion*

It might be the woman market stall holder in a city like Port Moresby, who needs security for her daily takings, or the rural Solomon Islands school teacher who must spend up to half his wage in boat fuel travelling to a bank to collect his pay. Both could use a mobile wallet to solve their problems.

Branchless banking, mobile banking, mobile “wallets”, innovations in financial services are seeing thousands of poor and low-income people use their mobile phones to enter the financial system for the first time; to open accounts, get paid, save money and begin to move out of poverty. And so they came to Sydney last month for the first-ever Pacific Branchless Banking Seminar. From Timor Leste to Tonga, the Philippines to Fiji, from all over the Pacific and beyond. Bankers large and small, central and commercial, were joined by financial service providers, mobile network operators and technology providers to share new approaches to fostering financial inclusion in our region.