3 Feb 2010

Mobile phone banking being pushed in the Pacific

9:20 pm on 3 February 2010

Thousands of people in the Pacific may be able to do their banking by mobile phone by the end of this year.

The Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme has just been in Samoa to inform people about the benefits of mobile phone banking.

An advisor to the programme, Till Bruett, says these include giving rural people access to banking services, and cutting the costs of remittances.

He says pilot projects could start within three months in countries with strong networks, including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa, and mobile banking could be rolled out in at least three of those countries this year.

Till Bruett says mobile phone banking has helped millions of people in Africa and Asia and he hopes it will do the same in the Pacific.

"One of the big challenges in the Pacific is to allow easy access to savings and then to help build the savings culture and I really hope that this can be a powerful technology for the Pacific."

Till Bruett says establishing mobile banking could cost millions of dollars, but they're working with organisations to run the service as a business.