Strong savings culture

February 9, 2016

A STUDY carried out by the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme has revealed that mobile money services are as widely used in Fiji as expected.

The comparative report on the financial services demand side surveys of Fiji, Solomon Islands and Samoa was released by the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) last week.

The report titled Benchmarking Financial Inclusion in Fiji, Samoa and Solomon Islands: Findings from the first national demand side surveys presented a synthesis and comparison across the three surveys.

The report stated that the mobile money was launched in Fiji in 2010 with hopes of a rapid take-off.

However, the report said the hype was not unfounded as after four months in operation, close to one quarter of Fijians were reported to have a mobile wallet.

It said supply side data in Samoa showed high levels of account ownership.

The report stated that despite the numbers, the survey found that mobile wallet ownership was much lower than anticipated in Fiji and Samoa.

“In both countries, the levels of active usage, defined as having made a transaction within the 12 months preceding the survey, is negligible,” the report said.

A statement from PFIP said the survey was carried out in Fiji, Samoa and Solomon Islands in late 2014 and early last year and were jointly supported by PFIP and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI). The surveys were led in-country by the central banks of the three countries with the assistance of their respective national bureaus of statistics.

It said the study noted a strong savings culture, with 61 per cent of Samoan adults to 87 per cent of Solomon Islander adults having saved in the past year.

According to the survey, while a large proportion of Fijian and Samoans savers are formally banked, Solomon Islanders save informally because of low access to formal financial services (only 26 per cent of adults are banked).

These adults save at home, or by giving money to others, either to safeguard for them or as loans that they intend to recover.

PFIP said the report outlined the barriers to formal financial access, as unearthed by the DSS surveys.

, along with questions for further research.

It said the report and comprehensive country reports highlighted issues that still require answers and innovation solutions, but they also unveil areas of new opportunities for growth.

“This is an exciting time for financial inclusion in the Pacific, with policymakers, financial service providers, and other interested stakeholders making concerted efforts to ensure appropriate and relevant products for Pacific Islanders,” it said.

Source: Fiji Times