Mobile Money a couple of months away for PNG

I’ve been following developments for mobile money since attending a mobile money summit at Lamana in 2008. Since then Data Nets have announced investments in the service, Digicel have obviously been active as well with setting up the service in Fiji last year. So to begin this year Digicel have now announced their launch of ‘Digicel Mobile Money’ in Tonga with Samoa, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Nauru months away.

I guess the most important aspect of mobile money will be the locations that will be avilable for you to cash your electronic money. Digicel outlets will be an abvious location, but with BSP becoming a money agent for the service in Fiji, it will no doubt have huge benefits in PNG when it gets here.

Although like everyone else in PNG, I really don’t want to have to go to line up at a bank to cash my money. Maybe it would be better if that Mobile Money could be directly credited to my bank account so I can use my Visa Debit Card.

Further down the line I’d like to be able to just send money to say Solomon Islands from PNG or even better maybe my relatives in Australia could send money to me via my mobile. Well not sure if Digicel and BSP have gone that far yet, but that would truly make money mobile if they can cross country borders.

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Thursday, 13th January, 2011 – Port Moresby , PNG: Digicel has continued the Pacific rollout of the ground breaking “Digicel Mobile Money” service with a launch in Tonga today, which sees Digicel customers in the Kingdom offered a range of mobile financial capabilities including the ability to transfer money to friends and family nationwide and pay utility bills using their mobiles.

Digicel Mobile Money was first launched in Fiji in July 2010 with Tonga, through the support of the Reserve Bank, becoming the second of Digicel’s six Pacific markets to launch the innovative service. In November 2010 Digicel also launched a “Tcho Tcho Mobile” Money service in Haiti.

Digicel mobile phones in Tonga will now become electronic wallets offering a secure and convenient way to transfer money to any Digicel Mobile in Tonga, deposit or withdraw cash from their electronic wallets, buy and send Top Up and pay a range of utility bills including Tonga Power, DigiNet and DigiTV.

Customers can simply deposit or withdraw money from their mobile wallet at any of Digicel’s nationwide network of stores and at authorized Digicel Mobile Money Agents across the country and can register for the service by simply dialling *888#.

The project, regulated by the Reserve Bank of Tonga, is supported by the United Nations Development Programme’s Pacific Financial Inclusion Fund (PFIP) with a view to promoting financial inclusion within Tonga and the Pacific Islands. Digicel Mobile Money aims to assist in addressing the needs of the 70% of Pacific Islanders who do not have access to basic financial services and will be launched in Samoa. Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Nauru in the coming months. Earlier this month Digicel’s Tcho Tcho Mobile Money service in Haiti was awarded a US$2.5 million prize by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Government Agency for International Development (USAID) for being the first to launch a mobile money service in Haiti.

Paul Stafford, CEO Digicel Tonga said; “Following the successful launch of Digicel Mobile Money in Fiji, we believe the service will have an immediate and positive impact on the lives of Tongans as has been experienced in Fiji. When you consider the number of people who do not have access to basic financial services in the Pacific, Digicel Mobile Money transforms the way our customers receive, handle and transfer money and pay bills.”

Mr Stafford added; “Our ambition is to offer this service across all our six Pacific markets and we are delighted to be able to work in partnership with the Reserve Bank of Tonga and other Reserve Banks as well as the PFIP and we can look forward, together, to the positive impact of Mobile Money for communities in Tonga and the region.”

Governor of the Reserve Bank of Tonga, Joyce Mafi said; “The Reserve Bank has been working closely with Digicel to advise and encourage the development of this innovative service. The Reserve Bank supports rural outreach and is delighted to see the innovation being applied here in Tonga.”

Graham Steven ‘Esau, Finance Manager for Tonga Power says; “Tonga Power strives to ensure quality service is provided to the people of Tonga, the Mobile Money bill payment service provided by Digicel is a convenient and easy way for the people of Tonga to settle their electricity bills and Tonga Power is proud to be part of this new initiative by Digicel.”

Tillman Bruett, Technical Advisor of the PFIP said; “This is another important step forward in bringing access to safe and affordable financial services to the estimated 70% of Pacific islanders that are unbanked. The majority of low income households in the Pacific need an affordable and a safe means to store and move money. We are supporting a number of initiatives in the region and are happy to be working with Digicel in Tonga and the Pacific elsewhere to meet this need.”

Summary of Digicel Mobile Money services:
• Simple, secure mobile to mobile money transfers
• Cash lodgement and withdrawals at Digicel outlets nationwide, and through Digicel Mobile Money Agents
• The ability to instantly buy and send Top Up
• Pay bills such as Electricity, Digicel postpaid bills, DigiTV & DigiNet
• Check balance and transaction history and manage security password”

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4 thoughts on “Mobile Money a couple of months away for PNG

  1. Mobile Money might just accellerate Microfinancing as well in PNG:

    Microfinance Focus, Oct 29, 2010: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Australian Government will support a $24 million Microfinance Expansion Project to help rural communities in Papua New Guinea access credit and financial services.

    ADB’s loan, from its concessional Asian Development Fund, covers 54% of the project cost of $24.06 million. The loan has a 32-year term, including a grace period of eight years. Interest is charged at 1% per annum during the grace period and 1.5% per year for the rest of the term. AusAID will provide a grant of $6 million to be administered by ADB. The Government of Papua New Guinea and project beneficiaries will cover the remaining cost of $3.09 million. The project is due for completion around the end of 2017.

    The project will extend and build on the experiences and lessons learned from ADB’s Microfinance and Employment Project, also co-financed by the Australian Government through AusAID, an 8 year project that began in 2002 and established a solid base for microfinance in Papua New Guinea.

    ADB estimates that only 15% of the population has access to formal or informal banking facilities, and many parts of the country still use a non-monetary barter system for transactions.

    “This project will help rural areas move from a subsistence to a modern cash-based economy and in the process it will increase incomes and reduce poverty by stimulating informal business activity,” said Robert Wihtol, Director General of ADB’s Pacific Department.”

  2. There is alot of players wanting to go into mobile money. Banking institutions alike and the communications company. However, there is alot of work that needs to be done on the ground level to make this work.

    Firstly, this all needs to be regulated and needs approval from the Bank of PNG. BPNG needs to issue a statement to their stance on what the rules is and who will be doing what.

    It needs to be a banking solution whilst uterlising the channel of a communication company. The question is, would you want to restrict to one communcatiion company? Or do you want a level playing field that end users can easily have access to and at least given the chance to decide.

    So whilst we await for BPNG to get it’s act together, it seems alot of players have already express their interest even with some possible donor funders.

    It’s a waiting game now……

    For me, I say convinience comes with a price!!! Not jsut to our pocket… but to the economy as a whole..

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