M-commerce expands across the Pacific Islands

28/07/2011

Exactly one year after launch, pan-Pacific mobile service provider Digicel’s m-commerce services are now available in Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu and will soon be expanded to Papua New Guinea and Nauru.<!--more-->

Called ‘Digicel Mobile Money’, the service began in Fiji in July 2010. The system allows customers to lodge and withdraw cash from electronic wallets on their Digicel mobile phone, send and receive money from phones, pay bills and top up their mobile phone accounts twenty four hours a day. In Vanuatu customers will soon be able to link directly to bank accounts, allowing them to transfer funds or pay bills from their individual accounts.

The company says its objective is to extend the service to 75% of Pacific Islanders who do not have access to basic financial services. Thanks to the proliferation of mobile phone voice and data services and falling tariffs, islanders have embraced the idea of mobile money quite rapidly.

Of the many services available, the most popular are top up bill pay, and sending money to family and friends. Already, millions of dollars have been transacted over the mobile phone networks of these countries and the company expects strong growth in the m-commerce sector in coming years.

Though there have been several programmes to extend banking and financial services to remote locations with concepts like “rural banking on wheels”, no initiative in the Pacific Islands region has succeeded in expanding them as rapidly as Mobile Money.

While Digicel Mobile Money provides the technology and the network, banking and utility services partners in the scheme include Post Fiji, ANZ, Bank South Pacific, Westpac, National Bank of Vanuatu, Fiji Electricity Authority, Fiji Water Authority, Unwired, Unelco, VUI Santo, Tonga Power and Sky Pacific.

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