ANZ smashes South Pacific m-banking targets

It is not every month that one has the opportunity to write about the emerging banking markets of Samoa, Vanuatu, The Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. The success of ANZ's goMoney service in the South Pacific, a mere six months after launch, justifies a mention, writes Douglas Blakey

ANZ smashes South Pacific m-banking targets

It is not every month that one has the opportunity to write about the emerging banking markets of Samoa, Vanuatu, The Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. The success of ANZ’s goMoney service in the South Pacific, a mere six months after launch, justifies a mention, writes Douglas Blakey

The markets targeted by ANZ included around 1.5m underserved customers without bank accounts with access to traditional banking channels hampered by a limited bank branch network.

Mobile penetration rates of about 85% suggested that the area was ripe for mobile banking.

It may be stretching things to suggest that the South Pacific is the next mPesa/Kenya type mega hit but ANZ has got off to a flyer.
ANZ tells me that approximately 60,000 customers have signed up since the launch, making an average of 125,000 transactions a month, with both figures still continuing to show exponential monthly growth.

Surpassing the bank’s initial forecasts, the number of accredited merchants has grown to over 400 along with more than 200 sales agents operating in the area. ANZ is expecting these numbers also to grow exponentially monthly.

In addition to the standard traditional features of account balance and recent account transaction information, goMoney allows customers to send money to family and friends, pay their bills and purchase airtime top-up vouchers.

The new banking distribution model through an agent network to manage the on-boarding of both consumers and merchants makes it possible to avoid the need for branches or card infrastructure.

The Australian government is also investing in the area with the aim of increasing financial inclusion among disadvantaged households across the Pacific.

May kicked off with news that the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs will invest A$14.5m over the next three years in an updated Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP).

Implemented by the United Nations, PFIP aims to add 1m Pacific Islanders to formal financial inclusion by 2019.

Phase 1 of PFIP, launched in 2009, successfully added around 600,000 Pacific Islanders to the banking sector.

Much remains to be done; in Bank of Papua New Guinea, for example, a three year programme has kicked off to target 1.6m unbanked consumers in the country.

A similar programme was rolled out in March in Fiji with ANZ also active via its community-based financial literacy programme called Money Minded Pacific.

Meantime, Bank of the South Pacific is ramping up its Branchless Banking and Agents service, the first of its type in the Solomon Island.

Perhaps before long it will be fair to say that the South Pacific is the next Kenya.