The National, Friday 22nd June 2012
NATIONWIDE Microbank (NMB) is using SmartPhone technology to open new accounts as it strives to be the most-innovative bank in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.
Managing director Tony Westaway said PNG was a unique operating environment with different cultures and its own challenges, therefore, NMB was constantly looking at doing things better.
“An example of our innovation is the use of SmartPhone technology to open new accounts,” he said.
“Our MiCash teams now enter villages, obtain a photo of the new customer and identification documentation.
“These are forwarded to our head office over the Digicel network, and upon receipt a new account is opened within six to seven minutes.
“The customer receives confirmation of account opening by text to their mobile phone.”
Westaway said NMB products would continue to be tailored for ordinary Papua New Guineans, meaning, they needed to be affordable and be able to be delivered at village level using various technologies and delivery channels.
“Certainly we can learn from the developed world, however, one needs to undertake local market research and concept testing before introducing new products and services,” he said.
“We certainly undertook research and concept testing before launching our Mobile Money product MiCash.
“And recently, we have partnered with Pacific Financial Inclusion Program (PFIP) and Women’s World Banking (WWB), to do research in various parts of PNG.
“This research will assist in the further development of micro insurance, and banking products for women”.
Another key advantage of innovation, according to Westaway, was having the ability to move quickly.
“We are fortunate to have a supportive board and development partners,” he said.
“Our relative smaller size as a financial institution has meant that we have the ability to make quick decisions, and coupled with a management team with a ‘can do’ attitude, we can introduce new technology and take product to market perhaps more easy than some larger institutions”.
PAPUA New Guinea’s Bank South Pacific (BSP) has become one of the first banks in the world to use hand-held tablet computers to sign up new customers.
Across the Pacific, the push is on by banks to get their services out to new customers, and to do so banks have deployed everything from staff on motorbikes through to armoured vehicles.
In Papua New Guinea, the spoils of the resources boom, particularly the massive royalties from the PNG LNG project, have given the race a new urgency, as many of the landowners who will receive those royalties, have never used banks.
Most live in the PNG Highlands, some in areas that do not even have road access, but Bank South Pacific’s Managing Director, Ian Clyne, says they do have mobile phone coverage.
“BSP is using state-of-the-art technology,” he said.
“We have got about 350 Galaxy tablet computers, with a wireless card swipe and using that tablet, we can now open an account anywhere in the country in very, very remote areas in 5 minutes and give the person a working debit card that they could, technically, walk up to the next ATM or Eftpos and withdraw the money immediately,” Mr Clyne told BAC news this week.
Westpac and the ANZ Bank are also moving as fast as they can to use innovative ways of signing up new customers.
ANZ’s Papua New Guinea CEO, Vishnu Mohan, plans to open a new kind of branch inside the main PNG LNG project compound in the Highlands.
“We as an institution, we are in the process of setting up a bank-tainer, which is essentially a 40-foot container in the Hides area, at the request of ExxonMobil who as you know are the operators of the project,” he said.
“It is actually to help some of these landowner groups to bank the money and put the money into the formal sector. Simultaneously, we are also launching a mobile phone banking program, which is essentially to bank the unbanked and this, hopefully, will be launched towards the last quarter of this year in PNG and some of the other Pacific countries.”
ANZ and Westpac are a long way behind Bank South Pacific in reaching rural customers; BSP has more than double the number of rural branches and many more agents and automatic teller machines – all of which need supplying with cash.
Ian Clyne says moving cash around in Papua New Guinea can be a dangerous business.
“In 2011, we did 3000 cash deliveries around PNG of which 300 were flights,” he said.
“Law and order, as we all know, is a major consideration for a bank in any country, but in PNG with the challenges that the police and government have, it means that BSP has to run our own security operation and we have over 460 people working for our security department.”
“To be honest, we are under threat on a daily basis. As you can appreciate 80 per cent of the cash that circulates in Papua New Guinea we are distributing.
There are and have been attempted robberies and successful robberies”, he reported.
Post Courier Online
The National, Thursday June 21st, 2012
WORLD-leading satellite operator SES has announced that it has signed a new multi-year capacity deal with Telikom Papua New Guinea, the country’s incumbent telecommunications operator.
The deal involves a renewal of satellite capacity on NSS-9 at 183 degrees East and on NSS-6 at 95 degrees East.
In total, Telikom PNG currently contracts more than 100 MHz in capacity with SES and is one of SES’ largest customers in PNG.
Telikom PNG is the premier operator of voice and data services in PNG.
The renewal will enable Telikom PNG to continue expanding its cellular services into new regions and provide telephone services over challenging mountainous terrain by providing cellular backhaul between a large number of sites around the country and the capital, Port Moresby.
Deepak Mathur, senior vice-president commercial, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East at SES, said: “NSS-9 deploys state-of-the-art technology and is one of the most powerful satellites in SES’ fleet of 50 satellites, enabling customers like Telikom PNG to optimise their networks to get the maximum throughput to save costs and operate more efficiently.
“We are delighted to support Telikom PNG’s service expansion to improve connectivity for enterprises, governments and consumers, and contribute further to the development of the telecommunications sector in PNG.”
Charles Litau, acting chief executive Telikom Papua New Guinea, said: “The new deal will allow us to provide our customers with connectivity to the remotest locations – the highlands, mining camps and islands of PNG.
“We have benefitted from SES’ global expertise and excellent technical and engineering support, and we look forward to further developing our strong partnership by exploring other business opportunities in PNG.”
SES is a world-leading satellite operator with a fleet of 50 geostationary satellites.
Concerned stakeholders gathered at the Institute of Public Administration Hall
on the 14th and 15th May to look at the advantages and disadvantages of modern technology and find ways to address this important issue. Presence was the church representatives, Censorship Office [host], CHM and Pacific Gold Studios, Labor, Customs, IPA/IPO, Education, Justice and others. Organized by the Censorship Office, the consultation workshop came about from the concern of this office about it not being able to control the random streaming of harmful material through modern technology, especially through satellite, internet and gadgets like the mobile telephone with features that enable owners to key directly into websites to download porno, uncensored music and video and other harmful material. The main concern of churches was the random allowance by parents for their children under the age of 18 to have excess to these. Apart from the censorship of illicit material, the music industry was also at stake through music piracy. As artists’ works were also downloaded onto flash drives, mp3, ipods, mobile phones and SD cards for free consumption and file sharing. This has deprived musicians of their right to royalty earnings throughout the nation. With no proper awareness and monitoring in place to combat piracy, aliens are being allowed to continue this practice, virtually making everybody feel it is a community norm to do so. An incident in Rabaul concerning highly respected citizen Sir Ronald Tovue and Garden Enterprises staff Joey is a good example of the disrespect of citizens and the laws of the country.
The National, Wenesday June 20th, 2012
By MALUM NALU
THE Bank South Pacific aims to revolutionise banking in the country by using cutting edge technology to bring services to the remotest areas of the country, according to group chief executive officer Ian Clyne.
He told The National the bank was using Samsung Galaxy Tablets – in a world first – to bring banking services to remote PNG.
BSP will use these tablets to open new customer bank accounts conveniently in less than 15 minutes anywhere in the country.
With the tablet, bank staff can input customer details, take a photo and customers jot down their signature.
The customer walks away with a pre-registered KunduCard and new account instantly.
“We are basically able to, within five minutes, open up an account, take your photograph as a customer, the customer signs on the tablet, the information goes back to our system in real time,” Clyne said.
“The person has a bank card immediately, not in one week or two weeks time.
“We can do that anywhere in the country in five minutes.
“We now have 350 Galaxy tablets around the country.
“There are teams of (BSP) people going out into the rural areas, such as oil palm projects, and getting the workers and drivers to open accounts.
“We have people all over the country going out into the remote areas to help people there open up bank accounts.”
Clyne said BSP was working towards getting 1,000 tablets working all over the country.
This is all part of the lucrative Green Gold campaign, which started this month, and is set to be the largest cash give away in PNG history.
“The reason we launched Green Gold was about financial inclusion,” Clyne said.
“If someone has a bank account, that will encourage them to save and manage their money more professionally.
“You don’t want people to come to the main centres because they have to spend K50, K100 or more to come to the big centres and then we have a big line.
“This (tablet) is part of a strategy of having electronic solutions convenient for customers all around PNG.
“We also have the ability to open up accounts for customers anywhere in PNG,” Clyne said.
“We’ve come up with a technology that is a world-leading technology: a Samsung Tablet and a Windows Bluetooth card, where we can go anywhere in the country, including an Ok Tedi boat down the Fly River.
“There are many firsts going on around the country that a lot of people aren’t aware of.”
Meanwhile, BSP now has two Kundu account choices for its retail customers: Kundu Account Standard and Kundu Account Plus.
The Kundu Account Standard is for customers who do not frequently transact on their Kundu account or may not use their account every month.
The Kundu Account Plus is for customers who frequently transact on their Kundu account.
TELIKOM PNG (Telikom) recently upgraded its Ku-Band Broadband ViaSat system that will enable customers to use their bandwidths more effectively utilising all of the bandwidth and reducing signal distortion conditions such as rain fade. The hub upgrade will mean more customer benefit to maximize the link by delivering more applications and services.
Telikom Acting Chief of Technical James Banduru said one advantage with this upgraded system is the reduction of satellite bandwidth requirement by up to 63 per cent for downstream and allows for bandwidth up to 18 per cent for uploading.
“This upgrading will benefit a large set of applications that use flexible return link bandwidth allocation to guarantee improved transfer rate and IP quality of service,” Mr Banduru said. He added that broadband ViaSat in remote sites around the country have been upgraded to include the Adaptive Coding and Modulation and Uplink Power Control while a recent visit by a ViaSat engineer to upgrade the hub and train local staff is complete and Telikom clients can expect improved ViaSat services with favourable rates.
“With Telikom’s extensive network providing telecommunication services nationwide, our ViaSat hub is locally based and maintenance of remote sites can be readily taken care of by technicians nearest to the site concerned,” he added.
For most corporate business the ViaSat serves as a backup link while some clients are now considering using the ViaSat system for their primary link.
Post Curier Online News
MORE than a billion people in developing countries have mobile phones but no bank accounts.
Likewise in Papua New Guinea access to financial services is reserved for the fortunate few. Whilst Asian Development Bank (ADB) has estimated up to 85 per cent of Papua New Guineans do not have bank accounts, there are those financial service providers who now are beginning to fill that gap, through the use of a mobile phone.
To date, there have been up to 100 mobile money deployments in emerging markets and one of those deployments is being driven in PNG by Nationwide Microbank (NMB).
NMB has introduced MiCash to ordinary Papua New Guineans. MiCash is both a Mobile Wallet and a Bank Account.
Unlike many other mobile money deployments, NMB is not focused on person to person domestic transfers, although this is a function that MiCash performs; rather NMB is focused on providing a banking product which can be used in the village or on the plantation, in remote districts, almost anywhere there is access to the Digicel network, to perform banking services.
NMB is growing a network of MiCash Agents throughout PNG. This means that not only can MiCash customers perform deposits (cash in) or withdrawals (cash out) at any one of NMB’s twelve branches around PNG, but MiCash customers can also undertake these same types of transactions through an Agent network.
MiCash customers can obtain a bank account balance at any time day or night on their mobile phone. MiCash customers can have their salary directed to their MiCash account, in the same way their salary is currently put in the bank. The MiCash account is a Bank Account that instead of being accessed by a Card, is accessed through your mobile phone. Just like a card account from a commercial bank, the MiCash account is accessed using a PIN number. Customers are asked not to disclose their PIN number to anyone. With my MiCash accounts you can still perform Digicel airtime top up or transfer air time top up to other people. And yes you can transfer funds to other MiCash accounts.
Trudi Egi, Head of Sales & Service, and Gima Kepi, Manager Women’s Banking, have been leading MiCash promotions in Central Province recently. MiCash is a product ideally suited to the grassroots people.
It suits people from villages, those in the informal sector and those without permanent employment. The account attracts no fees on deposits; there is no monthly service charge, although there are affordable charges on other transactions.
Mr Egi, Mrs Kepi and the NMB team opened accounts on the spot in villages using the technology of the mobile telephone network. No more travelling to town to open a bank account or get on a PMV. NMB will come to your village or you can visit your nearest MiCash Account Opening Agent.
“We believe that MiCash will assist our mission in banking the un-banked,” said Trudi Egi “Don’t forget the women,” Mrs Kepi said, “this product truly provides confidentiality and independence for women”.
Post Courier Online
The National, Monday 04th June, 2012
THE East New Britain provincial administration has joined the National Capital District in centralising its payroll system online.
Administrator Akuila Tubal and Department of Personnel Management acting secretary Ravu Vagi, launched the payroll system last Friday in Kokopo.
“Operationalising the system is an exciting step forward for the province – an initiative we have pushed since 1992.
“With salary costs over K10 million per year, it’s important we have effective human resource management in place to improve overall service delivery in the province.
“This system is a great incentive to improving productivity in the public sector and I’m confident we will see benefits immediately,” Tubal said.
Vagi added that the payroll system would save enormous cost and time for the administration.
“They will no longer need to travel to Port Moresby to manually process the payments each month.
“Last year, Mendi Hospital saved K80,000 in three months as a result of the online access to the integrated HR payroll system. And staff morale improved due to salaries and allowances being paid on time.”
The system is part of the HR Connect project under the PNG-Australia programme through AusAID’s economic and public sector programme.