The National, Thursday 02nd August, 2012
NATIONWIDE Microbank (NMB) continues to open MiCash “mobile wallets” throughout Papua New Guinea.
These mobile wallets are bank accounts operated by a cell phone with access to the Digicel network.
Unique in comparison to many other financial institutions, NMB is using what is termed USSD protocol, which enables the phone to store electronic money (e-money) and exchange it for cash at any agent displaying the “MiCash Accepted Here” sign.
NMB managing director Tony Westaway advised that there were about 45 agents for MiCash “mobile wallet” around the country.
“Many of these agents are businesses located
in rural areas that include trade stores, tucker boxes and mixed businesses,” he said.
“Our primary aim is to extend banking to the rural people and many of our agents are located not in the towns where you will find traditional banking, but in the villages, plantations and other settlements.
“Over time, we will set up agents in towns and cities too.
“Businesses that take on a MiCash agency earn commission on transactions at their store.
“Also, many agents that provide MiCash transactions could attract more customers to their store.
“NMB has partnered with the team at Oceanic Mobile Transactions Ltd (OMTL) to create an agent network throughout PNG.”
Westaway said OMTL was part of the Oceanic Communications Group, which is a Pacific-wide sales and distribution group with operations in seven Pacific countries.
NMB is also working with other existing partners to extend the agent network further.
There have been more than 30,000 transactions that have occurred on MiCash wallets with nearly K2 million in transaction value to date.
“What is significant to us,” said Westaway, “is that a great majority of these transactions relate to normal banking transactions of deposit and withdrawal.
“This means that our customers are using these wallets as bank accounts, not just for sending domestic remittances or performing airtime top up, although these are still important functions of the wallet.
“From a financial inclusion perspective we could not be happier.”
“The average deposit to a MiCash ‘mobile wallet’ is K261 and the most of that stays in the banking system as savings”.
“I believe this also reflects our approach to opening accounts.
Westaway said they are not looking to perform mass registrations or account openings on every street corner.
“We would rather our staff take the time to talk to people about savings and how to operate these accounts properly.
“We do not want people to use them as just vehicles to withdraw in full their fortnightly salary or oil palm payment.
“It is preferable the accounts are used as a means of saving and planning for the future.”
To find out how to become a MiCash agent please contact OMTL at [email protected] or telephone 73717524.
To find out more about MiCash you can ring the NMB Call Centre on Digicel 16789 (Free Call) or visit www.microbank.com.pg