In last week’s article I highlighted the benefits of ANZ goMoney. This week I would like to focus on how ANZ goMoney is increasing financial literacy, especially in the rural communities.
Earlier this year, ANZ announced an additional ANZ goMoney merchant, Soltai Staff Credit Union store, to our expanding network across the Solomon Islands; taking the total number of merchants in that Province to 16.
Having an ANZ goMoney merchant at the Credit Union store means more services available to our customers, including goods purchase, balance checking, Person to Person (P2P) transfer, deposit and withdrawals of cash and opening of accounts. Many of these customers have never before had access to such banking channels, and this access is having a very positive impact on financial literacy.
The options available through ANZ goMoney are becoming increasingly sophisticated, for example the ability for selected commercial customers to use the channel to effect payments for goods and services.
ANZ has also successfully engaged with communities in Choiseul Province, where my team visited various villages, including Leomuni, Sasamuga, Panarui, Molevanga and Taro. The aim of these visits was to inform rural communities of the benefits and ease of banking using ANZ goMoney. The visits were headed up by our Solomon Islands Head of Retail, Lyn Pita Faarodo.
Whilst the logistics of travelling around the Province were challenging, Ms Faarodo and her team were determined to achieve their goal of taking our service to the unbanked in Choiseul. The team at times endured rain and high winds, travelled for two hours by small boat to reach one of the remote villages, and walked five kilometres to arrive at a distant outpost.
Advancing financial literacy
Throughout my international banking career, which has spanned a number of countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East – in addition to the Pacific – I have witnessed a recurring need for ease of access to basic banking services and financial literacy. No more so than in the Solomon Islands with its geographically dispersed population.
Banks have a crucial role to play in helping fulfil peoples’ desires to save for their futures, start their own small business, or just to have a convenient way to transact their financial affairs. Bringing banking services closer to people, and expanding their ability to become more financially independent, contributes towards overall economic growth and self-sufficiency. My view has been
reinforced by the success of our financial inclusion efforts in the Solomon Islands, especially in the past few months where the impact is clear for all to see.
While logistical and operational considerations make this work at times challenging, we are committed to continuing this momentum across the Solomon Islands, as ANZ strives to promote financial literacy and inclusion; by building awareness among the ‘unbanked’ rural population, and steadily building our ANZ goMoney reach across the country.
Complementing our rural banking and mobile phone banking initiatives is Money Minded, our flagship financial literacy programme. Since its roll out in 2010, Money Minded has been successfully delivered to some 6,000 people across the Pacific, including over 400 Solomon Islanders across several Provinces. We plan to continue this important initiative for as long as it is needed.
This week we will be witnessing the inaugural opening of the National Financial Inclusion Taskforce (NFIT) Expo which will increase awareness of the main pillars of financial inclusion, one of which is financial literacy. ANZ is proud to be a Gold sponsor of this event, and we welcome the opportunity to partner with NFIT in this great financial inclusion initiative.
By Geoffrey Buchanan
ANZ CEO Solomon Islands