SEND SELEN HOME, the country’s newest mobile money was launched today. It is described as a game-changing solution to addressing the unbanked populace so as bridging the digital divide between the urban and the rural Solomons.
The launches, which were held in Honiara, Auki and Gizo marked a new chapter in the digital era.
CEO of Solomon Telekom Christina Lasaqa said this is a significant milestone not only for Our Telekom but also to all Solomon Islanders regardless of their current geographical location as they now embark on a new era of innovation and economic growth.
“With the launch of this new service we are making it easier for our customers to manage their finances and access financial services on the go,” said an elated Lasaqa in front of a packed house in Honiara at the Coral Seas hotel.
She said the development of mobile money has been a collaborative effort with local and their international partners to make sure it meets the Solomon Islands’ market.
“Our goal is to provide solution that is secure, convenient, and available to everyone regardless of their location or income,” she said.
Instead of going to a bank’s physical branch to open an account, mobile money allows customers to use their mobile phone number as an account number and their mobile phone as their digital bank account.
The new mobile money was launched by the Deputy Prime Minister, Manasseh Maelanga, who has expressed his government’s support towards the creation of the programme to bridge the digital divide.
Governor of the Central Bank of Solomon Islands Dr Luke Forau said: “Today marks a historic moment as we gather here to celebrate the official launch of mobile money services in the Solomon Islands. This occasion is a significant step forward in our journey to enhance financial inclusion in our region and empower the unbanked and underserved.”
The governor shed some light on how this service fits into the National Financial Inclusion (NFIS) strategy 3 for the country that runs from 2021 to 2025.
He said mission in the NFIS3 is to increase access points from 825 to 1,115 and to increase the number of Solomon islanders with a formal financial account from 283,000 to 400,000 of which 50% must be women.
He said The NFIS3 provides us with valuable insights into the state of financial inclusion in our country. According to the strategy, an estimated 26% of adults in the Solomon Islands currently have access to formal financial services.
“This highlights the urgent need to bridge this gap and ensure that every citizen has access to the tools and services necessary for their financial well-being,” said Dr Forau.
He further stated that the launch of mobile money services presents a game-changing solution to this challenge.
“With the ubiquitous presence of mobile phones across our nation, we have a unique opportunity to leverage technology and bring financial services directly to the palm of every individual. Mobile money will act as a powerful tool to expand access to financial services, reaching even the most remote areas where traditional banks have been unable to establish a physical presence given the fact that the country is made of 300 habitable islands and setting brick & mortar branches in each of these areas may not be viable.
Dr Forau said one of the key benefits of mobile money is its potential to significantly reduce transaction costs. He pointed out that the cost of accessing formal financial services has been a major barrier for the unbanked and underserved population.
“With mobile money, individuals will be able to conduct a wide range of financial transactions at a fraction of the cost compared to traditional banking methods. To put in perspective, on average it costs a Solomon Islander 10 USD to access a financial services point while in pacific countries like Fiji and Samoa that have mobile money services it costs about 2 USD. This reduction in costs will not only enhance the affordability of financial services but also enable individuals to allocate their resources more effectively, fostering economic growth and stability.
Solomon Telekom has already started identifying its agents as it starts rolling the mobile money programme.