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”.
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