The Central Bank of Solomon Islands (CBSI) is hosting the first ever forum on mobile and branchless banking in the Solomon Islands to gauge the current trend of these new forms of banking services in the country.
The forum is being chaired by the Governor of CBSI Mr. Denton Rarawa, and includes the participation of CBSI Deputy Governor Gane Simbe, head of the three commercial banks- ANZ, BSP and Westpac, leaders of the two telecommunication companies Solomon Telekom and beMobile and the PFIP Financial Inclusion specialist, Mr. Krishnan Narasimhan.
A statement from the Central Bank said the forum is being organized to take stock of the roll out of mobile and branchless banking in the country so far in order to understand current challenges faced and to explore opportunities for further growth and development of the roll out of these banking products.
“Mobile and branchless banking play a key role in increasing financial inclusion in many countries around the world. Through these technology based innovative banking solutions, banking services have been taken to remote locations in a highly sustainable and cost effective manner.
“Already several countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America have used mobile and branchless banking successfully to spread financial services to the poor and low income households, and increase financial inclusion.
“In the Pacific such technology based services are now available in Fiji, PNG, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Samoa and Timor Leste.
“In the Solomon Islands the advent of mobile and branchless banking services has revolutionized banking with over 31,000 new customers enrolled during 2013 only. Presently it is estimated that 5 out of 10 adult Solomon Islanders have a bank account,” the statement said.
The forum will chart the way forward for an organized, sustainable and effective growth of mobile and branchless banking in the country.
Participants are expected to identify potential avenues for improving customer access and provide value added services to customers.
Solomon Islands is the first country in the Pacific and one of the very few in the world where all the commercial banks operating in the country have introduced mobile and branchless banking services.