Reserve Bank of Fiji Taking Giant Steps in Facilitating Mobile Money

June 1, 2010

The Reserve Bank of Fiji launched the E Money Fiji on June 9 2010, a project aimed at making mobile money a reality in Fiji. Working in partnership with two mobile companies, one which of which launched its mobile phone based money transfer services on June 17, the Reserve Bank is hoping to get more people in Fiji access financial services.

“The Reserve Bank of Fiji hopes that through this initiative, a large number of our people who currently do not have access to financial services will benefit greatly as they will not have to go to a bank to do their routine banking. Through mobile money, they can for example, transfer funds from person to person, receive salaries and wages in remote areas from government and other employers, and pay bills such as electricity and water bills. They can even withdraw and deposit money,” said the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Sada Reddy.

The introduction of mobile money in Fiji is expected to improve the lives of the rural people, and has a potential in increasing economic activity in the rural and maritime areas with access to mobile networks. The coverage of the mobile network operators in Fiji is estimated to be around 80-90 percent of the population.

A recent report released by the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) estimates that about 109,000 households in Fiji miss out on savings, credit and other financial services. The report “Fiji Financial Services Sector Assessment” highlights that untapped savings demand, largely present in the rural areas, stands at least FJD $70 million dollars while the unmet demand for credit, mainly present in the urban areas, is at least FJD $57 million dollars and there are over 130,000 Fijians who could benefit from insurance products in the short term.

Mr Reddy commended the role played by PFIP in promoting financial inclusion in Fiji.

“The significant progress we are making in Fiji in recent times in terms of various initiatives have been greatly enhanced by PFIP’s active role in providing valuable advice, direct participation with decision makers, service providers and key stakeholders. PFIP’s role in financing awareness programmes and seed money to service providers has proven to be very successful in this global strategy of financial inclusion,” said Mr. Reddy.

The Reserve Bank is also working on a best practice E-Money Legislation, which will license all providers of e-money services.

Mr. Reddy was recently sponsored by PFIP to attend the GSMA Mobile Money Summit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil where over 640 leaders around the world in the mobile money eco-system comprising mobile network operators, regulators, academics, financiers and donors met to network and learn about the latest international developments in the industry. He said he greatly benefitted from attending this Summit.