The Central Bank of Samoa (C.B.S.) partnered with the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (P.F.I.P.) to hold an introductory workshop last week to discuss the benefits of digitization of payments.
Representatives of various Government Ministries, and stakeholders in Samoa were introduced to the benefits and business case for the digitization of government payments to its people.
This method of payment is made through digital means such as electronic fund transfers, E.F.T.P.O.S. and mobile banking among others.
It is envisaged that digitization will bring new opportunities to improve Government payments and receipts using digital forms of payment, and in essence tap into the improved digital and internet connectivity offered by the new Tui Samoa Submarine Cable.
Customers using Government services would benefit from digitization of payments as it saves time and effort instead of physically standing in line to make payments at Government Ministries and Corporations.
Government-to-Person (G.2.P.) payments are the digitization of government payments to citizens such as wage and pension payments.
In opening the workshop, C.B.S. Governor Maiava Atalina Enari said, “Digitization of payments is one of the strategic objectives identified within the National Financial Inclusion Strategy 2017-2020. This momentum towards electronic payments has been driven by increased efficiency through cost savings and leakage reductions, increased transparency, reduced cash handling and related matters of safety, security and administration involved”.
P.F.I.P. Financial Inclusion Specialist, Amit Kumar Garg said that G.2.P. and P.2.G. payments have the potential to become a vehicle for extending financial inclusion and improving the welfare of disadvantaged people, for instance, those receiving pension benefits and those paying utility bills.
G.2.P. can help reach a large part of the unserved or underserved population by encouraging the use of formal financial services. Recipients will also benefit from quick payments, reduced traveling time and costs.
“G.2.P. flows builds in part on the progress made by the industry and the regulators to grow the digital banking in Samoa. It contributes to creating a digital payments ecosystem and helps the private sector to work with government agencies to develop a long-term business case,” he said.
The workshop was attended by 31 representatives from seven Government ministries, four state-owned enterprises, six financial services providers and Utilities companies. All representatives were able to map the payment flows within their agencies, and identified opportunities to offer digital payment services to citizens.
P.F.I.P. is a Pacific-wide programme that has helped 1.5 million low-income Pacific islanders gain access to financial services and financial education. It achieves these results by funding innovation with financial services and delivery channels, supporting policy and regulatory initiatives, and empowering consumers.
P.F.I.P. operates from the U.N.D.P. Pacific Office in Suva, Fiji and has offices in Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Solomon Islands. It is jointly administered by the U.N. Capital Development Fund (U.N.C.D.F.) and the United Nations Development Programme (U.N.D.P.) and receives funding from the Australian Government, the European Union and the New Zealand Government.