The Pacific region is doing its bit to join the world in becoming as cashless as possible despite having its unique challenges. Some nations like the Solomon Islands, Samoa and Vanuatu are just joining the race by considering legislation that would provide a framework and allow the commercial banks to link up to central banks.
To better assist small business operators, particularly those who deal with cruise passengers when they come onshore, a new app called ‘Dua’ is being introduced. This will enable these operators to easily accept digital payments securely on mobile devices.
The digital payment platform was launched by Mastercard, ygap, an international development organisation, and Fintech Pacific, in partnership with the Australian Government’s Business Partnerships Platform (BPP).
Australian Chargé d’Affaires to Fiji, John Williams, said Australia was committed to supporting sustainable and inclusive economic growth through engagement with the private sector.
“The Australian Government is proud to support innovative private sector-led initiatives such as this platform, which will help women entrepreneurs in Fiji attract new customers and grow their businesses. I am excited to see the pilot now live and look forward to watching the technology become widespread throughout Fiji,” he said.
Ruth Riviere, Country Manager, New Zealand and Pacific Islands at Mastercard, emphasised how the technology will impact the financial empowerment of women, traders and small businesses, by improving their access to digital financial services.
“The new payment solution addresses socio-economic and cultural barriers, creates more opportunity, and increases financial inclusion, sustainability and independence. This initiative would not have been possible without Australia’s Business Partnerships Platform, which created the opportunity for Mastercard, ygap and Fintech Pacific to combine their unique skills and capabilities to create an enduring solution for a problem, that in the past, seemed very difficult to solve,” Ms Riviere said.
“The project shows the benefits of collaboration between government, industry, and the NGO sector to bring about sustainable and impactful change.”
Businesses participating in the pilot will receive training to facilitate easy use of the new technology, including a step-by-step guide on accepting digital payments.
Sisila Akaneta owns a small business and believes that such payment systems are taking businesses forward but a lot more needs to be done for people in the interior and smaller islands.
“Cash rules the economy in rural areas. To have such provisions we need access to mobile network coverage and access to data,” she said.
Places like the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu need more work. As of now, the central banks and commercial banks are not electronically linked.
Commercial banks are still using cheque transfers from bank to bank. While most Australia and New Zealand cities are becoming totally cashless, the absence of cash in rural areas spells doom.