Mobile money in Vanuatu

© UNCDF 2019 John Rae Vanuatu

Partner:          Telecom Vanuatu Limited      

Country:         Vanuatu

Pilot duration:  August 2018 to June 2020

Need                                                                                       

According to the demand side survey conducted by the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) in 2016, 37% of adults in Vanuatu have a commercial bank account, while another 10% access financial services from other formal providers such as credit unions, MFIs and insurance. However, 32% of adults appear to be excluded from both formal and informal financial services. The report also found that over 80% of adults have regular access to mobile phones, however access to mobile banking is limited[1].

This presents an opportunity for to increase access to affordable digital financial services in Vanuatu, through a product that can tap into this clear gap in the market.

Solution

Therefore, PFIP partnered with Telecom Vanuatu Limited (TVL) to test, set up and scale a mobile money service in Vanuatu, M-Vatu. This pilot builds on upon two key innovation principles which have been successfully tested by PFIP with Vodafone Fiji.

Firstly, by setting up a so called ‘innovation lab’, the pilot is isolated from TVL’s core business, and therefore the related influence and restrictions of current business line priorities, corporate politics, business practices and limited research and development resources. This innovation lab allows for easier and rigorous testing, as well as iterations to ensure the optimal product is developed.

Second, TVL will leverage Vodafone Fiji expertise to build and deploy the mobile money platform. Learnings from Vodafone Fiji indicate that mobile money deployments require long term investments and consistency of implementation effort. TVL has conducted a business case analysis which indicates that commercial viability will be achieved in a period of six years. This long period for attaining business sustainability is a significant inhibitor in launching these services for TVL.

However, the support from PFIP will help scale the model in its tough start-up phase and also shorten the business viability period to between 3.5 to 4 years. TVL is in a position to invest further in the mobile money model beyond the PFIP support period and is committed to sustain these services in the long term.

Additionally, the pilot will ensure that the mobile money wallet is used by priority segments, such as women. In order to achieve this, the pilot team will conduct tests and use ‘human centered design’ to make the product and the agency channel ‘women-friendly,’ addressing the challenges of security and economic marginalization. This is key, because despite a significant gender gap in bank account ownership in Vanuatu (32% women compared with 41% men), women are more likely to report saving in the past 12 months, and deposit and withdraw from their bank account more frequently[2]. The new TVL mobile money services have the potential to benefit women specifically and close the gender gap in account ownership.

 

 

[1] Financial Services Demand Side Survey, Vanuatu, 2016, PFIP, Fiji, p. 2

2 Financial Services Demand Side Survey, Vanuatu, 2016, PFIP, Fiji, p. 1