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Money goes mobile & expands PNG’s frontier banks

BEN BLAND | Financial Times

WHERE AFRICA'S BANKS led in pioneering the development of mobile money, setting up Kenya’s successful M-Pesa money transfer system, Papua New Guinea's lenders are following in their tracks.

Bank South Pacific’s branch in Kerema will be one of more than 40 slimmed down BSP Rural outlets to combine cutting-edge technology with the best facets of PNG’s age-old, close-knit tribal society.

BSP Rural employees sign up customers on the spot using a Samsung tablet computer that records their signature and sends their details to headquarters via the mobile phone network.

Because of a lack of formal identification documents in rural PNG, where few people have passports, driving licenses or even birth certificates, the bank relies on local tribal chiefs to confirm customers’ identities and thus meet global anti-money laundering requirements.

ANZ and Westpac prefer the lower-cost approach – also developed in Kenya – of using local agents to extend their reach.

Using a mobile debit card machine, these agents take in deposits on behalf of bank customers and allow them to make withdrawals.

Westpac says it has signed up more than 60 agents since launching its mobile money service in February and plans to have 200 in place by September.


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Tony Westaway

Nationwide Microbank a 100 percent PNG owned microbank regulated and licensed by BPNG has been operating mobile money in PNG since November 2011. It is good to see the commercial banks now operating in this space.

Good ol' microbanks, venturing where others will one day tread - KJ

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