The National, Thursday January 30th, 2014
By GYNNIE KERO
THE National Microbank’s mobile money product Micash is gaining popularity among farmers and vendors who cannot access bank services.
Managing director Tony Westaway said Micash processed more than 80,000 transactions a month in excess of K14 million.
In 2012, the bank won the PNG Institute of Directors Innovative Company primarily for the introduction of this product.
Westaway said the microbank introduced the product to promote financial inclusion and assist grassroots people grow their business activities through loans.
He said microfinance loans started at K200 as a minimum.
The average loan with Nationwide Microbank is about K4,500.
The bank provides financial literacy and capacity training to people who could not read or write.
Westaway said: “Micash targets the grassroots people that include farmers and villagers who find it difficult to travel to urban centres to access financial services from traditional providers such as commercial banks.
“Financial education is an important life skill for people across all socio economic levels, but it is particularly important for people at the lower end of the pyramid in rural communities and urban settlement areas.
“As comprehension of formal financial services is generally limited for them, the need for focused financial literacy education becomes even more apparent.”
Westaway said in most households, it was often the women who took care of the welfare needs of the family group.
“That is why Nationwide Microbank focuses its financial literacy training particularly to women in these areas.
“Often after financial literacy training the women will open a MiCash Mobile Money account”.
The bank is always looking at new and innovative ways it can attract people to banking and meeting their needs, Westaway said.
This year, the bank will introduce innovative products for children and will partner with a number of schools.
“Providing financial education needs to begin early in life,” Westaway said.
“We will also continue our financial literacy training led by our women’s banking team in partnership with the Uniting Church in PNG and the microfinance expansion project,” he said.