The UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) is embarking on a joint historic project with Our Telekom to launch mobile money services in Solomon Islands in efforts to boost financial inclusion and transform the digital payments ecosystem in the country.
The product targets individuals and businesses, with an overarching aim to integrate the country’s sizeable rural population, including youths, women and micro-enterprises, into the mainstream urban economy. This has often been challenging due to the limited presence and reach of commercial banking services in rural Solomon Islands and the inadequate availability of tailored financial products for the everyday consumer, especially the financially excluded.
At present, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu are the only Pacific Island countries with mobile money services. The Solomon Islands product will be designed to provide customers with a convenient and safe way to send, receive, deposit, withdraw and save money in electronic form, redeemable in cash from registered agents around the country. It will also enable smoother and more efficient payments across the country.
As the largest mobile network operator in the country, Our Telekom is a uniquely positioned partner for the project, serving over 400,000 customers in a country of 700,000 people. The company, led by new CEO Christina Lasaqa, will test, launch and support the adoption of the service at a national scale, guided by lessons learned in other Pacific countries. This will include the recruitment, training and management of an extensive and reliable agent network, as well as vendor and user onboarding activities to ensure uptake and sustainability of the product.
A team on the ground from the UNCDF-led Pacific Digital Economy Programme (PDEP) will provide ongoing technical support to guide the project to fruition.
PDEP is jointly implemented by UNCDF, the UN Development Programme and UN Conference of Trade and Development, with funding support from the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Solomon Islands Technical Specialist, Zoe Victoria Tate said: “Mobile money has the potential to drive financial inclusion and boost economic activity and digital innovation in the Solomon Islands, where more than 71% of the largely young population owns a mobile phone.
“The service will be especially vital for those living in remote regions, who are often financially excluded and currently forced to rely on risky methods of financial transacting. This product is about bringing financial services literally to the fingertips of these consumers through mobile phones.
“UNCDF is a proud supporter of this initiative that we believe will benefit ‘last mile’ communities the most.”
Our Telekom Chief Executive Officer, Christina Lasaqa, said: “Our Telekom is honoured to be recognized by UNCDF in providing the necessary support to roll-out mobile money services in the Solomon Islands. Such significant projects require collaboration with all stakeholders in the ecosystem and partnering with UNCDF is an accomplishment for Our Telekom in delivering digital financial services to our customers.”
Source: Press Release
The UN Capital Development Fund makes public and private finance work for the poor in the world’s 46 least developed countries (LDCs). UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development. UNCDF’s financing models work through three channels: (1) inclusive digital economies, which connects individuals, households, and small businesses with financial eco-systems that catalyse participation in the local economy, and provide tools to climb out of poverty and manage financial lives; (2) local transformative finance, which capacitates localities through fiscal decentralisation, innovative municipal finance, and structured project finance to drive local economic expansion and sustainable development; and (3) investment finance, which provides catalytic financial structuring, de-risking, and capital deployment to drive SDG impact and domestic resource mobilisation.
ABOUT OUR TELEKOM
Solomon Telekom Company Limited (Our Telekom) is a joint venture company between Solomon Islands National Provident Fund, (SINPF) which holds 97.32% of the shares, and the Investment Corporation of the Solomon Islands (ICSI) which owns 2.68% of the shares. Our Telekom is a full-service provider with the largest mobile footprint in the Solomon Islands. Services include; Mobile 2G/3G/4G LTE, Fixed lines, VDSL & GPON, Wired/Wireless Broadband, FTTP, TM IPVPN, Domain & email provisioning, DR facilities management, Co-location, IT desktop services, IPLC services, Television services, and VOD services.