Women’s Micro-Bank Limited – Branchless Banking

Country: Papua New Guinea

Partner: Women’s Micro-bank Limited

Date: March 2018 – March 2019

Grant: USD   413,625

Target: 20,000 clients

Current reach:

                                                                                                                                   

Need:

According to the National Financial Inclusion Strategy 2016-2020 launched by BPNG during Dec’16, an estimated 37% of the adult population has bank accounts. However, there are concerns around the number of unique accounts and active accounts, which is much lower. One of the primary reasons for financial exclusion is lack of easy and low-cost access to financial services. It is worth noting that most of the financial institutions generally have branches in provincial capitals, large towns and limited in rural areas.

PNG has large and rugged geographies with over 80% of the population living in ruraland remote regions. It is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse countries in the world, with more than 800 indigenous languages. Approximately 20% of the population is employed in the formal sector, mainly by the government or extractive industries. PNG ‘s formal economy relies heavily on the resources sector with mining and petroleum, the larger portion of the population involves in subsistence and semi subsistence rural economy. Rural livelihood activities including cash crops and agriculture, supporting majority of the population.

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Solution:

PFIP will assist WMBL to pilot a technology driven solution to reach out to existing and potential women members of Women’s Microbank Limited (WMBL) in rural areas who arecurrently not able to access basic financial services. The pilot will include six locations to set-up Mama Bank Access Points (MAPs) across the country using a low-cost structure through two staff each equipped with a bio-metric system and a tablet based banking application system, for on-boarding of customers and offering basic financial services.

The pilot is expected to test the financial feasibility and commercial viability of the new channel and aims to increase the active customer base of WMBL by 150% (from 8000 to 20,000) over the course of 13 months. This will help WMBL not only offer services closer to the women in communities but also improve sustainability of the institution by mobilisation of savings deposits to fuel on-lending activities.

PFIP will support the pilot by offering help to source, install and use the technology solution using bio-metric ID which will be the first of its kind to be used by a Microbank in PNG and perhaps the Pacific. PFIP will support cost of operations to absorb the risk involved in this new venture of using technology and reaching out into new geographies, which would otherwise be not possible for WMBL.

If the model is proven successful during the pilot, the model will be scaled up throughout PNG and could potentially be replicated in other Pacific Island Countries with similar small to medium sized financial service providers.

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About WMBL

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) deposit taking licensed micro bank in the world and more importantly the first women’s micro bank in PNG and the Pacific region. With its first few months of operations, the bank has been selected as one of the best 50 companies for women among APEC Countries. The bank is a subsidiary of PNG Women in Business which sprang from PNG Women in Business Foundation formerly known as City Mother‘s Business Foundation, established in 2006.

Currently Women’s Micro Bank Limited has a clientele base of 16,500 members with a savings volume amounting to K4.1 Million. The Bank after attaining the banking business licence in August 2014 has opened more than 2,000 loan accounts through its various loan products and disbursed a total of K 3.6 Mn from 31st August, 2014 to May 2017 with a current balance of K1.3 Mn as at May, 2017.

Website: http://www.womenmicrobank.com