January 18, 2019
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea – Distance to the nearest bank and the lack of formal identification has been a major barrier to accessing financial services in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Last year, the Women’s Microbank Ltd. (WMBL) and the United Nations’ Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) embarked on a partnership to develop a new innovative solution that could help remove these banking barriers not just in PNG but for the whole Pacific region.
This pilot project enters the next phase with six Mama Bank Access Points (MAPs) becoming operational today. Over the past few months, WMBL and PFIP have developed a biometric enabled system that makes financial services more accessible for rural communities, especially for women who are WMBL’s main customers.
The MAPs are kiosk-type structures established at safe locations in market places, manned by two WMBL staffs. Each MAP is equipped with tablet-based biometric technology that allows customers to transact with WMBL by just using their fingerprint. This makes it much easier for customers as very often bank cards get lost or stolen and many people tend to forget their PIN. For the pilot, the MAPs will be initially set up in Port Moresby, Kerema (Gulf Province), Madang (Madang Province), Maprik (East Sepik) and Goroka (Eastern Highlands Province).
When opening a new account at the MAP, customers will have to complete the necessary identification requirements (KYC) set forth by the Bank of PNG and will have their fingerprint impressions taken on a biometric reader. Once this is done, the customer will be able to perform basic transactions, such as savings, deposits, withdrawals and checking their balance conveniently, literally at the touch of their fingertips.
“After the pilot we intend to rapidly replicate the MAPs in other parts of the country, helping to bring easy to use financial services closer to rural people in PNG, and particularly women,” Gunanidhi Das, General Manager of WMBL said
PFIP Programme Manager Bram Peters said “Biometric solutions hold significant promise and are likely to play a very important role in the future of identity verification and authentication in banking services. What is more important for us, is that the customer experience of solutions such as the one used by WMBL is far more superior than what any of the Pacific banks are currently offering. Using biometrics removes the need for customers to carry passbooks or ATM cards that come with the hassle of remembering PIN numbers. If proven successful in PNG, PFIP hopes to rollout similar projects across the Pacific.”
Women’s Micro Bank Limited (WMBL) is a licensed Micro-Bank regulated by Bank of PNG. WMBL formerly known as PNG Women in Business Microfinance Institute limited established in 2010. The Bank received its banking business license from Bank of PNG in May 2014. The bank is the 5th women only focused deposit taking licensed micro bank in the world and more importantly the first women’s micro bank in PNG and the Pacific region.
PFIP is a Pacific-wide programme that has helped over two million Pacific islanders gain access to financial services and financial education. It achieves these results by funding innovation with financial services and delivery channels, supports policy and regulatory initiatives, and the empowerment of consumers.
It is jointly administered by the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and receives funding from the Australian Government, the European Union and the New Zealand Government. PFIP operates from the UNDP Pacific Office in Suva, Fiji and has offices in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Samoa and Solomon Islands.
For more information or media inquiries please contact:
Erica Lee – Communications Associate