Papua New Guinea: A Financial Literacy Perspective
Banking the unbankable
Financial awareness and education is gaining momentum as bank’s target rural areas for growth. The mobile technology phenomenon across Papua New Guinea (PNG) is the key driver. This shift in focus by banks and other financial service providers sits well with the government’s financial inclusion policies.
An Asian Development Bank finding suggests that 85% of the country’s population remained unbanked in 2012.
Bank South Pacific remains PNG’s market leader in providing banking and financial services followed by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and Westpac Banking Corporation respectively. The mobile revolution in PNG is not only limited to these three main banks. Mobile telecommunication provider Digicel has Cellmoni service while Post PNG has mobile Salim Moni Kwik (“Send Money Kwik”, SMK) facility. Other smaller players also exist in providing technology based financial services.
The government has made notable developments in the Small Medium Enterprise sector and in creating a conducive environment for financial empowerment for its people. The Prime Minister Peter O’Neill launched the Center for Excellence in Financial Inclusion recently marked yet another milestone in the history of the financial inclusion drive in PNG. The key is to boost micro-finance to widen resource funding basically meaning empowering citizens to have more cash in their pockets to spend and improve living standards and/or investment for a better future.
The government is on the right track. The World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) acknowledged PNG as one of the emerging market economies of the Asia-Pacific region recently in Washington at the WB-IMF Spring Meeting. This is welcome news but it also comes with its challenges. The government’s efforts in meeting these difficulties is commendable.
The importance and power of financial education is limitless and similarly its benefits. PNG will experience an unprecedented economic growth and the government is doing well in ensuring that the majority of the population become financially literate to make well informed decisions to improved basic living standards.