Pacific-ASEAN Financial Innovation Challenge Officially Launched

March 16, 2019

The Pacific-ASEAN Financial Innovation Challenge, a platform for innovators from the Pacific Islands, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore who have existing, or ready to deploy, financial or technology solutions was launched at the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu (RBV) yesterday morning.

RBV Governor Simeon Athy, welcomed partners, donor partners and guests to the official ceremony yesterday, saying the launching of the project is now central to the RBV’s financial inclusion agenda.

He said that Financial Technology or FinTech is defined as the new technology replacing traditional financial methods in delivering financial services stating that it refers to business models, new applications, processes and products in the financial services industry.

Mr Athy said FinTech offers technology enabled solutions that can better address customer needs and preferences by offering enhanced accessibility, convenience and tailored products.

“We at the RBV have made all effort to embrace FinTech as a vehicle for delivering financial services solutions to al Ni-Vanautu,” he said. “We have made FinTech feature prominently in our Financial Inclusion Strategy 2018-2013. We are also working with our regional central banks, under the Pacific Islands regional Initiative (PIRI), and other partners such as the PFIP to spearhead FinTech within the region.

“Although the term may be new to many in Vanuatu, FinTech is, until recently being considered as a conduit through which we can address challenges in the traditional financial system of reaching the people in the remote and rural areas in accessing financial services, especially with the use of mobile and digital platforms,” said Governor Athy.

The RBV Governor mentioned that one of the main objectives of the Vanuatu National Financial Inclusion Strategy is to enable the people and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have access to a range of appropriate and sustainable financial services at an affordable cost after recent studies showed that only 10% of businesses access finance from commercial banks for business startups and another 2% from other financial institutions.

The new initiative will therefore address the complexity of loan applications processes and the executive turnaround time for a loan to be approved as it was identified as the main challenge for individuals and businesses to access finance, especially from a formal financial institution, such as the bank.

“As we welcome technology to change financial behavior and consumer profiles, as well as the nature of financial markets and financial infrastructure, supportive policies and conductive regulatory frameworks are also needed to enable FinTech transformation in Vanuatu. He further congratulated NBV and its partners, PFIP, for taking up the initiative and acknowledged technical and funding support from the Unlocking Public and Private Finance for the Poor (UNCDF) PFIP and the New Zealand Government towards this course,” he concluded.

The Pacific Financial Innovation Program (PFIP) Coordinator in Vanuatu, Edwin Mensah said that he is really happy to launch the FinTech Challenge in Vanuatu, in support of their donor, New Zealand and all our partner specifically NBV, He said that PFIP is working on improving the whole Financial Inclusion System in Vanuatu and said that he believes the FinTech Challenge will help in doing so.=

NBV’s Chief Operating Officer, Stuart Mathison said that they have partnered with PFIP for ten years in different ways and through that partnership have suggested that it would be a good challenge for the FinTech Innovation Challenge and that is to automate loan process in remote and rural areas.

Mr Mathison said that this a first time initiative in this area in improving lending operations and making increased access to credit specifically to credit pointing that when talking about financial inclusion, often refers to the question, have you got an account or have you got access to credit to get a loan in doing something productive.

“The project is important to us because our rural banking services is the heart and sole of NBV and its mission is to serve all the people of Vanuatu and with no excuse, to serve the people in remote areas. It is really important that we achieve that,” said Mr Mathison.

He said that NBV is still waiting on a suitable Technology partner to develop a software to address the project and successfully delivering it.

SOURCE: Daily Post