October 12, 2018
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 per cent 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’ 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 account. This can be done on all types of mobile phones using a USSD menu.
The new product was launched by 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 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 bank branch where they may have to wait in a queue to conduct just 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.
SOURCE: Fiji Times