July 21, 2010
Tillman Bruett, the PFIP Project Manager noted that PFIP has asked both Digicel and Vodafone to collect some information from new subscribers, namely the gender of the person, whether they live in an urban or rural area and if they currently have a bank account.
PFIP is a Pacific-wide programme helping provide sustainable financial services to low income households. Its aim is to increase the number of people in Fiji accessing banking services by 250,000 by the end of 2011. PFIP had provided seed grants to both Vodafone and Digicel to set up their mobile money services.
“Subscribers should know that PFIP has asked Vodafone and Digicel to track the number of unbanked clients that subscribe to their new service. Our technical and financial support to both Vodafone and Digicel is intended to help unbanked citizens of Fiji. Both companies have agreed to reaching a certain percentage of subscribers that at present do not have bank accounts.”
Mr. Bruett emphasized that under no circumstances should subscribers be asked to provide any details of their bank or account information. “We only ask they tick a box if they have a bank account or not, nothing more.”
Mr Bruett said he understood the concerns over clients having to present multiple documents to register for the services.
“The Reserve Bank of Fiji and the Financial Intelligence Unit have been very responsive to finding ways to enable the two mobile network operators to enroll clients while fulfilling the ‘know your customer’ requirements according to the current law. PFIP and the operators continue to discuss with them ways to reduce the registration requirement to providing a single document that verifies identification and address.” He also noted that other questions related to income, religion, hobbies and other issues were not required by PFIP and both providers have made clear to clients that answering those questions is optional.
He said PFIP was strongly encouraged by the high number of subscribers in Vodafone’s MPAiSA and Digicel’s Mobile Money in such a short period of time.
“While we know it will take time for customers to determine its value, mobile money has proven to be a powerful tool around the world to enable people to store, carry and transfer money safely and cheaply.”