Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) says it has secured funding for a project that will provide people living in rural areas of South Pacific Island of Vanuatu with access to "branchless banking" and card payment services.
ADB is managing a $600,000 technical assistance grant which has been provided by The Japan Special Fund. National Bank of Vanuatu (NBV) is also contributing $150,000 to the project.
The programme will enable NBV clients in rural areas to use a plastic mag stripe eftpos card to access to financial services.
ADB says the initiative will bring e-banking and payment services "as close as the local shop" as bank agents, such as store owners, will be provided with the technology and communications equipment to enable Vanuatu's rural population to open savings accounts and use account transaction facilities.
"This new branchless banking system will give many people in rural areas access to modern financial services for the first time," says, Milovan Lucich, project team leader, ADB. "These services will help people living in Vanuatu's remote villages participate in sustainable, income-generating activities that contribute to economic growth."
According to ADB just 13% of the island's rural adult population have bank accounts and an estimated 92,000 people need access to financial services.
Bob Hughes, MD, NBV, adds: "The new technology allows us to provide a range of services aimed at meeting rural clients' banking needs and could be a model for expanding access to financial services throughout the Pacific."