Bram Peters – Launch of the Women’s Micro Bank – Mama Access Points

March 15, 2018

Resident Representative of the United Nations, members of the Diplomatic Corps, members of the media, distinguished guests and of course our host today; Women’s MicroBank… Ladies and gentlemen

This year will be a remarkable year for the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme as it will celebrate its tenth year of financial inclusion work in the Pacific. Over the past 10 years, we have been able to partner with governments, mobile network operators, banks, insurance companies and other financial service providers. And we have supported close to 40 projects that have impacted the lives of 1.8 million Pacific Islanders. And I am proud to stand here today to announce yet another partnership… with Women’s MicroBank.

This project is about ending long-distance relationships. And I will share with you a personal story to clarify. It is about the time when I met my wife more than 10 years ago. Back then I was living and working in Amsterdam, Holland while she was living in Belgium, so we only saw each-other in the weekends. That worked for some months, but after a while friction started building up. So I went to my mother and asked her for some advise and what she told me was this. She only said to me “A long distance relationship can only work if there is a plan to end the distance…”

And as we are here today, launching a new innovative branchless banking project, this is exactly what we are doing. As PFIP, we are supporting WMBL in their plans to end that long-distance relationship that they have had for too long with their women clients. Ladies, traveling long distances to be able to save their hard-earned money.

We are excited for many reasons, but I have picked two:

  1. The first reason is because Women’s MicroBank is focused solely on women. In many Pacific countries women are representing a very large portion of the informal economy, but more so than men, women lack access to a bank account to put away their savings or to get a loan. This project will help us close that big gender gap.
  2. The second reason is the technology that will be used, as each Mama-Bank Access Point will be equipped with tablets using biometric technology for customer identification and authentication of transactions. Very innovative and as far as we know unique in PNG. This technology will help WMBL to overcome many of the identification challenges that many banks and other financial service providers in PNG are facing.

This project’s objective is to impact 20,000 women in the pilot phase and if proven successful, will be scaled up nationwide. And since PFIP is working in multiple Pacific countries, we are keen to take the learnings from this project to help us implementing similar projects in these other Pacific countries.

This would not be possible without the support of our partners: the European Union, the Australian and New Zealand governments and United Nations Development Programme. 

Thank you for supporting our mission to reach the unbanked.