The National- Monday, February 7, 2011
By ZACHERY PER
THE International Finance Corporation (IFC) has signed a grant agreement with the Bank South Pacific (BSP) to help uses electronic fund-transfer services to provide banking services in rural areas of PNG.
IFC executive vice president and chief executive officer (CEO) Lars Thunell and BSP chief executive officer Ian Clyne signed the agreement in Asaro in Daulo district, Eastern Highlands, on Saturday.
The grant is an incentive for BSP Rural, a subsidiary of BSP, to connect subsistence households and rural businesses far from bank branches
IFC has committed $770,000 towards the project under the Pacific Microfinance initiative, a partnership arrangement with the Australian government.
“IFC is supporting BSP to help communities in rural PNG to boost productivity, create employment, reduce poverty and encourage rural enterprises.
“In PNG, more than 90% of adults lack such services which deny them opportunities to improve their lives; IFC is supporting BSP-Rural to help extend the reach of financial services to rural areas,” Thunell said.
He said the system proved to be successful in many countries; therefore they want to bring the services to PNG.
Thunell said it is important to provided efficient services in rural areas of PNG because it is blessed with resource boom like the LNG.
He said affordable and reliable banking services is important to improve living standards of farmers, small-scale producers and even rural women will benefit as the opportunity provides safe and secure ways to save and transfer money.
Clyne said BSP a real PNG bank is committed to provide much cheaper and friendly services in rural areas. IFC owns 10% equity in BSP and relationships with 600 banks in over 100 countries.
“We anticipate opening 100 to 200 BSP Rural branches around PNG, wireless banking services will also make trade stores in villages to be cash agents which will allow customers to deposit, withdraw and transfer money using their kundu cards,” he said.
Clyne said BSP is happy to sign this milestone agreement with IFC, the initiative is so special for PNG’s rural population.
“You can use your kundu cards to get money from any BSP Rural branches; it saves time; with the help of IFC we will further develop mobile phone banking – the service is for you, look after it,’ he said.
Head of BSP Rural Banking Paul Thornton said they are aiming to acquire 200,000 new customers over the next three years and establish 20 branches nationwide.
“This project will allow people in remote areas to send and receive money quickly and efficiently,” Thornton said.
Asaro community leaders Wilson Thompson and George Kimio thanked IFC and BSP for bringing a unique banking services close to the people.
They call on the people to take ownership of the initiative and utilise it.