Mobile Money gets Coverage in Vanuatu

February 25, 2010

Mobile phones offer huge potential to change the way we send and save money. The provision of financial services, often referred to as “mobile money” has leapt on to the world stage in the past few years. In just three years since it was launched by Safari.com, over eight million Kenyans are transferring money and making payments from their mobile wallets. Similar systems in the Philippines, Cambodia, India and elsewhere are already reaching millions in Asia.

Over 30 representatives from a broad range of organizations meet last night in Port Vila to learn more about mobile money solutions and share ideas on how it could be set up in Vanuatu. This information exchange was organized by the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) in partnership with the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu. The meeting was attended by the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Mr Odo Tedi, as well as representatives from commercial banks, microfinance institutions, telecos, civil society organizations, government officials and donor agencies all of whom can play a role on setting up mobile money solutions.

Tillman Bruett, PFIP Project Advisor, presented on the prospects for mobile money in Vanuatu.
“From our exchanges with stakeholders, it is clear that a mobile money system has great potential in Vanuatu and could help the estimated 70% of ni-Vanuatu that have no access to the formal financial system. There is also great interest among the necessary partners to get mobile money started.” said Mr. Bruett.

Mobile money systems around the world were originally developed to provide people with a convenient and affordable way to transfer money, particularly from urban to areas. The products have quickly developed to allow people to pay merchants and bills, save, and even send and receive international remittances. One of the key ingredients to successful mobile money system is finding or developing or partnering with an agent network that reaches into the rural areas. Typical partners are post offices, rural banks, village stores and air-time sellers, all of which are currently present in Vanuatu.

PFIP has provided funding to the National Bank of Vanuatu to support improved communications between its rural branches to allow for transactions to take place in rural areas in real time. PFIP is supporting a number of new developments in microfinance throughout the Pacific. PFIP is a Pacific-wide programme helping provide sustainable financial services to low income households. It is funded by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), European Union, AusAID and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and operates from the UNDPPacific Centre.