Acting Governor Ms Elizabeth Genia Speech on CEFI 10 Year Celebrations
Acting Governor’s Speech for CEFI 10 Year Celebrations
1. Acting Assistant Governor FSSG
2. CEFI Board members
3. CEFI Executive Director and Staff
4. Bank of PNG staff
5. Invited Guests
6. Ladies and gentlemen,
Before I begin my speech let me take this opportunity to congratulate CEFI for the work accomplished during the last 10 years and reaching 3.75 M people with banking facilities. It’s encouraging to note the increase of women participation to 34% (1.2m) by adopting an innovative approach for provision of financial services for the people of PNG. Its important to note CEFI board members and staff’s contribution to achieve this important financial inclusion milestone.
It gives me great pleasure to be here to witness this important event to represent both the Bank of PNG and as the Chairwoman of the Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion (CEFI) Board and as a strong advocate for financial inclusion, It is gratifying to see that the financial inclusion agenda is being actively promoted. Based on the investments on infrastructure for Digital financial sector by Bank of PNG together with the liberalization of the telecommunication sector, I am sure Digital Financial services is and will be an appropriate delivery channel for PNG communities now and into the future. This is clearly evident by the 1.2 m Digital financial service accounts in country as at December 2023.
Partnership with Financial Institutions
It’s encouraging to note that most of the regulated financial institutions representing different tiers of the PNG financial landscape are providing supply side data on a regular basis. Most of these institutions are partnering with CEFI to provide financial literacy training to existing and prospective clients. CEFI now has reached close to 350,000 people with financial literacy and has evolved into trend setter in this space. CEFI is now working with an International agency (Innovations for Poverty Action) to conduct impact assessment of the training and improve the training material .
Financial Inclusion Strategies
CEFI systematic process of promoting financial inclusion in the country through dedicated strategy is commendable. These strategies outline the Vision, Mission and key activities and a results framework with specific indicators to measure success. CEFI has successfully implemented two financial inclusion strategies which are – Financial Inclusion and financial literacy Strategy 2014-2015 and the Financial Inclusion Strategy 2016-2020. There strategies are developed and implemented in partnership with all the important stakeholders from Government and private sector. They strategies have been evaluated by external agencies and draw lessons have helped in formulating future strategies. The next Financial Inclusion Strategy 2023-2027 is now finalised and ready to be launched. Inclusion of Green Finance, Introduction of financial education to school curriculum, expansion of financial service outlets in remote parts of the country and incentivising the partners for financial inclusion contributions are important key additions for the new strategy.
Participation of Women
CEFI has a dedicated strategy to attract more women into the financial mainstream and economically empower them. Anticipated target is to reach 1.0 M additional bank accounts for women during the next 5 years and to provide financial literacy to 175,000 women. CEFI has used technology to bring gender equity into the financial inclusion domain. Some of the important projects to note are:
– Development of a Financial literacy mobile app to reinforce financial management through text and voice messages, and short video including question and answer sessions
– Introducing financial app (Ledger Pal for women SMEs to record day to day business transactions which is linked to a partner financial institution.
– Introducing online training for women in Digital financial literacy, Business planning and debt management and E commerce. CEFI is now planning to extend this training for women in Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu.
– Introducing Online Professional Microfinance course in partnership with IBBM
– Help desk for women entrepreneurs to assist in bank linkage and provision of Debt counselling services.
BANK of PNG other projects that support financial inclusion
1. SME Accelerator Program with one of the key outputs being the Credit Guarantee Facility. The purpose of this initiative is to ensure the credit risk is shared by the facility and the financial institutions so that the institutions can be encouraged to make loans available to MSMEs. Other components of the program include Financial, Business and market information advisory, innovation hub and strategic partnerships – all mostly to address and enhance demand-side of MSME access to finance.
2. Financial Consumer Protection – a project currently undertaken by the Bank to improve financial market conduct, improve financial consumer awareness and address Loan Sharks or money lenders, which is an area that is largely unregulated with customers seriously getting into debt traps. Also, the combating of money scams using various means of collecting money from the public with promises of high returns.
3. The National Payments System (including KATS and REPS) – REPS stands for Retail Electronic Payments System, which is an ecosystem that facilitates interoperable transfers or payments from one bank or LFI to another. All customers of banks or financial institutions that are members of REPS can now do transfers literally to any person or supplier that has a bank account with another financial institution who is linked to the REPS. This was a functionality only available to commercial banks before the introduction of the national switch. The benefits of REPS include the increased volume of business that gets transacted in the system which is good for MSME businesses. Currently only six (6) financial institutions are connected to the REPS. The plan is for all LFIs and MNO’s to be connected to REPS to make it an effective financial ecosystem for business in PNG in the years ahead.
4. Regulatory Sandbox approach – The Bank established a regulatory sandbox, a framework setup to allow emerging technologies and fintech start-ups to accommodate and spur fintech innovations focusing on financial inclusion. This was officially launched on 5th December 2019. The Sandbox is a “place” where innovators can test their (typically technology-based) solutions using real customers and real data in a safe and controlled environment without fear of breaching any of the strict and necessary regulations that are in place to protect the financial services sector and the PNG economy. One such product is the Digital ID project that was successfully implemented in Wewak, East Sepik Province by two micro banks. Mi bank and Women’s Micro bank.
These initiatives supplement the work of CEFI and provide assistance for men, women and youth to have access to knowledge, skills, information, experience and ideas to run a projects and business better in the financially inclusion space.
On this juncture and on behalf of the Bank of PNG and as the chairperson of CEFI, I wish to congratulate the CEFI Board, management and staff for embarking on this important initiative of assisting communities in PNG to contribute to economic growth. I hope CEFI’s vision for all Papua New Guineans to be financially competent and have access to a wide range of financial services that address their needs and are provided in a responsible and sustainable manner becomes a reality.
I wish CEFI and all of you the very best, enjoy the afternoon and Happy 10th year Anniversary to CEFI.
Thank you and God Bless everyone.
Mrs. Elizabeth Genia
Acting Governor Bank of PNG and Chairwoman of CEFI Board.