Regional bankers to meet in Apia

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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Central Bank of Samoa

Central Bank of Samoa (Photo: Samoa Observer)

Top bankers from around the region will meet in Samoa next week for the 4th Pacific Islands Regional Initiative (P.I.R.I.) forum. 

The P.I.R.I. is a regional grouping of the Alliance for Financial Inclusions (A.F.I.). 

It comprises all the central banks in the Pacific region: Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, Tonga and Vanuatu.

This is according to Central Bank’s Legal and Financial Intelligence Manager, Gafatasi Patu. 

The theme of the meeting is “Fintech for Financial Inclusion” and will be held on 6 -7 June 2018, at Taumeasina Island Resort.  

In an email to the Samoa Observer, Patu said the meeting focuses on the use of technology to support or enable banking and financial services, which is a global issue on the rise today.

  “Technology has changed the way we conduct business and financial transactions.”

“We have to understand these trends and make sure that laws are passed to regulate these technologies in such a way that it will not limit the technology, but to harness it and do it the right way or else Samoa and our region will be left behind.” 

According to the Manager, following the leaders’ roundtable, a Regulatory Training on Digital Financial Services (D.F.S.) under Alliance for Financial Inclusion Public Private Dialogue platform will be held on 8 June 2018 for the benefit of A.F.I. members in the Pacific and interested stakeholders.  

This is the first time Samoa has hosted the P.I.R.I. The first forum was held in Timor Leste, then in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea last year. 

“The meeting is not only beneficial for Samoa and the Pacific region in terms of financial inclusion; it will also benefit our other services that will be used by all the attendees (purchase of our goods and services such as food from restaurants, handicrafts purchases, taxis and other).  

“There are about 45 high officials from the different parts of the region, mostly from the central bank field.  We expect to host a total of 100 participants (combination of local and overseas attendees),” said Patu. 

According to the P.I.R.I. website, their regional platform and the history of close cooperation among the Pacific central banks also provides an effective way of innovating and scaling up multi-country solutions. 

“In the early days of mobile money, the Reserve Bank of Fiji worked closely with P.F.I.P. and other partners to issue letters of no-objection and subsequently developed guidelines for agents. Similar approaches were adopted by the other jurisdictions.”

“In opening up the market for insurance that are relevant and affordable to low income people, P.F.I.P. has worked with P.I.R.I. in conducting a series of regional workshops to enable supervisors to understand the regulatory requirements specific to micro-insurance.” 

Furthermore, the P.I.R.I. website stated their members recognised that continuity was required to better address the unique constraints to increasing financial inclusion in the Pacific. 

“Establishing this regional initiative now provides a long-term opportunity for member institutions to share a common vision, while working toward ensuring financial services is widely accessed throughout a region with one of the highest unbanked rates globally due to factors that include geographically dispersed islands with low density populations and challenges related to physical and banking infrastructure.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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