Samoa strategy targets 40,000 financially included adults by 2020

November 25, 2015

Apia, Samoa – Samoa has set a target to provide 40,000 adults with improved access to formal financial services by 2020.Samoa edit

Of the 40,000 target, Samoa hopes that 50 percent will be accessed by women and at least 50 percent from rural areas.

This target is one of the many goals set by national stakeholders from both the public and private sector at the National Financial Inclusion Strategy workshop in Samoa from 3rd – 4thNovember 2015.

The workshop sought their views to develop a five year (2016 – 2020) strategic framework for advancing financial inclusion in Samoa. The intention was to build an inclusive financial system that best serves all members of society, especially those in the low income bracket.

The Central Bank of Samoa (CBS) convened Samoa’s first Financial Inclusion Strategy workshop with technical and financial support from the joint United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and UNDP Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme.

In an interview with Radio Australia, Governor of the CBS, Maiava Atalina Ainuu-Enari, said that most Samoans did not use or access formal financial services through a bank or a telecommunications company because they had more confidence in cash. 

She added that there was a need to provide financial literacy especially for those in rural areas to build awareness on the benefits of having a bank account and the digital financial services available like mobile banking.  She said such services would not only make their lives much easier but could greatly assist in reducing traveling long distances and its associated costs.

These points were also highlighted in the findings of the Financial Services Demand Side Survey Report which was launched during the workshop. The survey provided a comprehensive picture of the current state of financial inclusion in Samoa. Key findings showed that more than a third of Samoan adults are excluded entirely from financial services and only about 39% of Samoan adults have a bank account.  Women were found to be more financially included compared to men. Low income people and youth in Samoa are yet to enter the formal financial system in large numbers.

Stakeholders used the survey as a reference point to develop strategies to improve financial inclusion in Samoa.

The workshop highlighted six strategic priority areas as goals to help drive financial inclusion in Samoa over the next five years. 

Stakeholders called for improved and deepened access to finance,  empowerment and participation of women and youth for inclusive growth; improved digital financial services and institutional innovations; improved resilience and reduction of financial vulnerability to economic shocks, especially of low-income households; improvement in financial competencies and consumer protection; and effective partnerships and sector-level coordination to build an inclusive financial system.

The workshop also introduced and received broad endorsement for the implementation model built around the formation of a National Financial Inclusion Task Force, and two working groups.   It was decided that CBS would lead the work of implementing the strategy and will also be the secretariat of the task force.

Also through PFIP support, two staff from the National Reserve Bank of Tonga were present at the Samoa workshop to observe and learn from the Samoan experience in preparation for the Tonga National Financial Inclusion Strategy and Financial Services Demand Side Survey in 2016.

A finalized copy of the strategy as well as the formation and selection of the members of the taskforce is expected early next year.

About the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme

PFIP is a Pacific-wide programme helping low-income households gain access to quality and affordable financial services and financial education. It is jointly managed by the UN Capital Development Fund (UNC DF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UN DP) and receives funding from the Australian Government, the European Union and the New Zealand Government. PFIP funding for the Fiji Demand Side Survey was from the DFAT Fiji bi-lateral programme.

PFIP aims to add one million Pacific Islanders to the formal financial sector by 2019 by spearheading policy and regulatory initiatives, facilitating access to appropriate financial services and delivery channels and by strengthening financial competencies and consumer empowerment.

 

For more information or media inquiries please contact:

Erica Lee – Communications Associate, Tel: +679 322 753,  Email: erica.lee@undp.org.fj,  Website: http://www.pfip.org