September 10, 2011
Vodafone MPAiSA Fiji has launched its first cross-border international remittance to allow Vodafone mobile phone users in Fiji to receive money from relatives and friends in Australia and New Zealand. Users can then withdraw cash from Vodafone MPAiSA agents around the country.
The international mobile money development is made possible through Vodafone MPAiSA and Lotus Foreign Exchange.
“In many ways, remittances are one of the world’s greatest financial security system, particularly for rural areas,” said Mr. David Morrison, Executive Secretary, UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF). “The problem that UNCDF wishes to solve is that remittances are often expensive. In the Pacific, the average cost of sending $200 is close to 20% and that doesn’t include the cost of getting into town to pick up your funds.”
Mr. Morrison congratulated Vodafone Fiji for bringing more convenient and safe remittances to Fiji, “This is a great example of two local companies working together to find ways to improve the lives of people.”
To celebrate this event, locals and guests gathered at Vunidawa, the provincial centre of Naitasiri to witness Fiji’s first international remittance transaction via mobile phone. This is also the very first for the Pacific region. In addressing Vunidawa villagers and guests, Mr. Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, stated, “Today marks yet another milestone in our pursuit for greater financial inclusion for the people of Fiji. MPAiSA is a revolutionary concept that in time to come, could well be recognized as one of the greatest innovations of its time.”
The Minister went on to reassure everyone, “The public can be confident that the product being launched today is not only technologically sound and secure but has a legal framework under the RBF Act.”
“We will continue to work with other players to put in place an enabling legal and regulatory environment to catalyze mobile banking,” Mr. Khaiyum added.
To mark this historic launch, Naitasiri rugby player, Apisalome Ratuniyarawa who now plays in the New Zealand Division One Rugby competition was accompanied by Mr. Knut Ostby, Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to perform the first transaction. Together Apisalome and Mr. Ostby remitted a sum of FJ$500 from Lotus Foreign Exchange, Queen Street Branch in Auckland to KBainivalu Store in Vunidawa. The recipients of these funds, Vunidawa Indian School and Vunidawa District School, were delighted when Vodafone Fiji topped up this contribution, with both schools receiving FJ$1000 each. Head Teachers of the two schools were present at the event launch to receive the donation from the Attorney General, Mr. Aiyaz Saiyed Khaiyum.
Lotus Foreign Exchange managing director, Pravin Kumar, said this mobile money transfer technology would empower the rural and much neglected sector of the community. He said, “M-PAiSA will provide the speed, convenience, safety and ease with which people will be able to receive funds from overseas into their mobile phones instantly and without having to leave their homes, what more could one ask for?”
“We at Lotus Foreign Exchange Limited are indeed honored and humbled to have been selected as international partners for this service. Together we will work hard to help bring in the much needed funds into the Fijian economy from overseas,” Mr Kumar said.
“Former Fiji residents, including soldiers in peace keeping missions and sports personalities, regularly send money home to their relatives and families and this can take considerable time and can be costly. With M-PAiSA, this transfer becomes an almost instantaneous service with cash available at any M-PAiSA Agent. The savings in terms of time and costs, as a result of this new service can be put to productive use to improve both the economic and social well being of our rural dwellers,” noted Mr. Robin Yarrow, Chairman of the National Financial Inclusion Taskforce and Vodafone Fiji Board member.
Mr. Shailendra Prasad, Manager MPAiSA and Corporate Affairs, thanked the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme(PFIP) for being instrumental in helping Vodafone Fiji set up this mobile money platform in Fiji.
PFIP is a Pacific-wide programme helping provide sustainable financial services to low income households. It is funded by the Australian Agency for International Development, UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), European Union and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and operates from the UNDP Pacific Centre.