Mama-Bank Access Points in rural Papua New Guinea
PHB is proud to be a part of a new technology-based program that is bringing financial services to women in rural areas of Papua New Guinea (PNG), even offline. The Mama-Bank Access Points (MAPs) branchless banking solution is being piloted at six locations in Papua New Guinea with the aim of providing basic financial services to PNG’s unbanked women.
The MAP initiative is a pilot from Women’s Micro-Bank Limited (WMBL) through a partnership with UNCDF’s Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP). The project aims to reach out to existing and potential new women clients of WMBL in rural areas, who are currently not able to access basic financial services due to the time and costs associated with travel to distant bank offices. There are also cost and logistic challenges to the establishment of brick and mortar branches in most provinces, further complicating some situations.
PHB Development is working with WMBL and PFIP to support system development based on human-centric design (HCD), which helps ensure actual benefits for the users, and that it is accessible within their routines. Grace Akinyi is a PHB consultant on the project: “What I’ve seen is that women are still marginalized in some areas of PNG, so they try to make a living by selling wares in the streets. We want to help improve their livelihoods by extending access to financial services in their communities. It’s the first of its kind there, and it’s a solution to a real need.”
The 13-month pilot began in March 2018, and is part of the PFIP, a Pacific-wide program that helps low-income Pacific islanders obtain access to financial services and financial education, often through innovation with financial services and delivery channels. “Mama-Bank Access Points will help the women in rural and also urban areas. Some accounts they have are not active, and this will help with a more direct and interactive presence,” said Grace.
Gunanidhi Das, General Manager of WMBL, said, ”The only solution to provide banking services for unbanked rural clients and inculcate savings culture among them is to have a technology-enabled robust solution near to their locations. The MAP project, sponsored by PFIP and supported technically by PHB Development, is the way forward to accomplish this mission and bring success to women of PNG as well as to WMBL. We are very much thankful to PFIP and PHB for their support.”
And looking ahead, Grace added, “The MAPs can be taken to other provinces so that women can do more – and help themselves. People are positive about the initiative, and even excited to see it bringing the services out to those who previously had no access.”
PFIP is jointly administered by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and receives funding from Australia, New Zealand and the European Union.