A partnership between the HFC Bank, Vodafone Fiji, the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) and Epay could see 66,000 Fijians in the rural and maritime areas potential beneficiaries of a new financial service launched today.
HFC Bank, Fiji’s only locally owned bank is the latest commercial bank to announce the launch of agency banking in Fiji, allowing customers to carry out transactions via their mobile phones anywhere (and anytime) and through the Vodafone M-PAiSA agent network.
PFIP provided a grant to assist HFC Bank develop its technology platform and integrate with Vodafone’s M-PAiSA mobile wallet to provide agency and mobile banking service.
This offering will allow customers to carry out transactions either via Vodafone Fiji’s mobile network, or through Vodafone’s point of service (POS) machines available in more than 1,000 outlets around Fiji through an extensive agent network (non-bank retail outlets offering banking and payment services).
Customers will be able to withdraw, deposit, transfer funds, make payments and point of sale purchases. Agency banking has the means to penetrate underserved areas, increasing the access to, and availability of, financial products and services without having to invest in ‘bricks and mortar’ bank branch infrastructure. Vodafone’s agents will act as ATMs, delivering financial services using devices such as Smart point-of-sale (POS) terminals or mobile phones to process real-time transactions.
In addition, the agency platform will be used for account opening and lodging of loan applications, a standout feature different from other agency banking models.
HFC Chairman Tom Rickets said “This Agency Banking model makes a leap forward in the way financial services are offered in Fiji, we being Fiji’s only local bank are proud to be at the forefront and the first in Fiji to bring this service to our people. Rural, semi urban and unbanked customers will be able to open and maintain a bank account from the luxury of their neighborhood convenience stores who are Vodafone retail outlets, once this project is fully commissioned”.
PFIP Acting Programme Manager Krishnan Narasimhan said that with a significant portion of Fiji’s rural and maritime population especially women and youth still under-served by financial services, this agency banking partnership would greatly help towards increasing financial inclusion in Fiji.
“The reach and accessibility offered through mobile phones can be leveraged for greater financial inclusion and lead to new use cases for other services like e-ticketing, mobile top ups and payment of bills,” said Mr. Narasimhan.
Head of eCommerce & Corporate Affairs of Vodafone Fiji, Shailendra Prasad said “This new service has the potential to bring 66,000 people, including many rural women and youth into the financial inclusion sphere. As we are 100% locally owned entity, Vodafone is proud to partner with the only locally owned bank to extend its mobile platform and Fiji wide reach to offer branchless banking to the Fijian people. This is as much about inclusion as it is about empowerment. The HFC Bank/Vodafone and Epay collaboration will bring into the mainstream many of the financially excluded to be part of the mainstream economy”.
This initiative is being piloted from today at Vodafone branches in MHCC, Damodar City and Valuefone Nausori. It will be progressively rolled in more stores in the Central , Western and Northern Division by December this year, as a first phase rollout. In the second phase by January next year, HFC Bank Agency Banking agents will also be able to facilitate account opening and accept loan applications (for Personal, Car, Home and even Micro Finance Loans).
By the mid of next year, HFC Bank will be able to expand its banking network to more outlets and over 1,000 Vodafone POS terminals Fiji wide through Agency Banking.
PFIP is a Pacific-wide programme helping low-income households gain access to financial services and financial education. It is jointly administered by the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and receives funding from the Australian Government, the European Union and the New Zealand Government.
PFIP projects have reached over 1.6 million Pacific Islanders with formal financial services. PFIP projects support policy and regulatory initiatives, provide funding for innovation with financial services and delivery channels, disseminate market information, and empower consumers.
PFIP operates from the UNDP Pacific Office in Suva, Fiji and has offices in Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Solomon Islands.
About HFC Bank
HFC Bank is a duly incorporated locally owned bank offering Retail and Commercial Banking and Lending products in Fiji. HFC Bank commenced Retail Banking in March 2014 and since has managed to open over 31,000 retail customer accounts which currently make use of electronic, internet and branch banking channels.
For more information, please contact:
Akash Anand – Project Officer Agency Banking; Tel: +679 3239 136