Service to reach the “unbanked”

The National Bank of Samoa’s newest product, EziBank, could play a key role in reducing the country’s “unbanked” population.

The product connects Digicel’s mobile money platform to the bank accounts of N.B.S. customers. 

EziBank combines N.B.S. core banking services with other payment services available through the Digicel Mobile Money platform. 

Accessibility and the belief that they cannot afford to save have been two of Samoa’s biggest impediments to financial inclusion. Only 39 per cent of the population have access to a financial service.

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Co-funded through a grant from the United Nation’s Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme, the product allows customers to check their bank account balance, save their remittances into their bank account, and make deposits and withdrawals between their Digicel and N.B.S. accounts.  This can be done on all types of mobile phones using a USSD menu.

In launching the product, Acting New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa, Nick Hurley, said the product would offer Samoans an easy option to receive remittances, especially from family members residing in New Zealand, and could be the means by which Samoans adopt a savings culture.

N.B.S. Chief Executive Officer Tu’u’u Amaramo Sialaoa said the bank was leveraging digital financial technology to deliver better services to its customers.

“These new services would reduce the cost of transacting for our customers and would also mean that they would not need to travel long distances to the nearest bank where they may wait in a queue to conduct basic transactions.  

“As a locally owned bank, our goal of financial inclusion is to provide nationwide access to safe and convenient financial products and services to the unbanked in Samoa,” he added. 

The Samoa-based Financial Inclusion Coordinator, Iris Kissiti, said Digicel has an extensive network that would help assist them in terms of distribution and reaching potential customers. 

“With a mobile penetration rate of 78 per cent of the population, using digital financial services was the appropriate channel to reach Samoa’s unbanked, especially those in the rural areas,” he added.

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