Shailendra Prasad – Vodafone Fiji, Head of mCommerce & Corporate Affairs – Vodafone -HFC Agency Banking Partnership

September 29, 2017

The Chairman, Board of HFC and CEO of HFC Bank, The Deputy Program Director of Pacific Financial Inclusion, Mr Krishnan Narasimhan, Members , Representative of Partner Epay, Offcials from the Reserve Bank of Fiji Customers, Members of the Media, Ladies and Gentlemen.

A very Good Morning and Bula Vinaka to you all.

Today marks the day of what could be recorded as the day when Fiji offered a fully integrated bank to mobile phone financial services to the people of Fiji. The HFC Bank Agency Banking service brings together the strength and exertise of HFC bank and suite of very attractive financial products, the power and reach of Vodafone’s Mobile platform and the distribution and point of sale presence of Epay in an all-encompassing unique financial service offering to the people of Fiji. 

This service heralds the era of Branchless Banking in Fiji in the true sense.

HFC bank customers would now be able to do most of the day to day banking in their corner store once HFC banking services are fully deployed in their locality.  This service is a decisive and genuine attempt to making financial inclusion a reality and not a mere cliché.

Let’s not kid ourselves.  It is known fact that people beyond the urban and peri-urben area whilst may have a bank account but are still not able to access banking services whenever and wherever they need it on a daily basis.  In rural areas people need to travel long distances and at great cost sometime to access basic banking services.  The HFC Agency banking service is attempt to take banking services to the people and into the palm of their hands rather than people  travelling long distance access basic banking services. The mobile phone is the most powerful device of this generation.  It is helping transform the lives of people through economic and social empowerment across the world.

Yet, we have barely scratched the surface of what the power of mobile phones can offer to greater inclusion, better access and prosperity.

As alluded to by the Mr Rickets, this service enables people to open a completely paperless HFC bank account through a tablet at an agent, capture the details of the customer, take a picture and submit to HFC bank within minutes.  Sometimes, when people from rural areas come to major towns and cities, they are overwhelmed and intimidated by the pace of things and unknown people whom they deal with.  They have this fear this suspicion and fear of unknown.  With HFC agency banking they would be able to access a lot of these services in a more comfortable environment at everyday known outlet near them.  People would be able to open an account, do withdrawals and deposits transfer funds between account and move money from their bank account to M-PAiSA and M-PAiSA to the bank account in a complete 360 degree service.

The service has been made possible through the tireless efforts of the project team comprising of HFC Bank/Vodafone and Epay staff.  The service has been tested and approved by the Reserve Bank of Fiji.   We would also like to acknowledge the support of PFIP and in particular Mr Mr Krishnan and form Director programs Mr Mark Flaming and his team of staff for the financial grant and access to expert consultant advise in the project.

As part of the nationwide e-ticketing project, Vodafone has deployed more than 1200 new smart POS at almost every business outlet around the country. Apart from providing eTransport Card top-up service, these POS will also be able to process HFC bank payment.  So next time you go to fill your fuel at a service station or pay for your grocery shopping at the supermarket, you may just be able to swipe your HFC bank card to make the payment without the need to carry cash.

As you all know, over the years, money has changed forms from barter system to feathers to shells and other precious metals all being accepted as money, before the notes and coins came into being. The days of notes and coins are coming to end.  The new money is the Electronic Money or E-Value.  The deployment of Smart POS and electronic payment platform will gradually diminish the need to carry to cash in your pocket.  We aren’t far from the days, you would be able to tap your phone to make a payment in an integrated mobile payments platform.

Vodafone is extremely delighted to partner HFC in this Agency and Mobile banking project.  This will clearly differentiate and position HFC Bank as modern and technology driven bank that offers its customer banking on the 24/7 whenever wherever.

We look forward to working in partnership with HFC, Epay and our M-PAiSA agent network to take financial services to more people in more place more cost effectively.

Thank you.