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PNG Women’s bank launches service using fingerprints

DISTANCE to the nearest bank and the lack of formal identification has been a major barrier to accessing financial services in Papua New Guinea.
Last year, Women’s Microbank Ltd (WMBL) and the UN Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) embarked on a partnership to develop a new innovative solution that could help remove these banking barriers, not just in PNG but for the whole Pacific.
This resulted in the launching of the access point rollout project in Port Moresby last week.
WMBL general manager Gunanidhi Das said WMBL would be rebranding its trade name to Mama Bank.
Das said this pilot project had entered the next phase with six Mama Bank access points (MAPs) becoming operational immediately.
“Over the past few months, WMBL and PFIP have developed a biometric-enabled system that makes financial services more accessible for rural communities, especially for women who are WMBL’s main customers,” he said.
Das said the MAPs are kiosk-type structures established at safe locations in market places, manned by two WMBL staff.
“Each MAP is equipped with tablet-based biometric technology that allows customers to transact with WMBL by just using their fingerprint,” he
said.
“This makes it much easier for customers as very often bank cards get lost or stolen and many people tend to forget their PIN.
“For the pilot, the MAPs will be initially set up in Port Moresby, Kerema, Madang, Maprik and Goroka.”
Das said when a new account was opened at the MAP, customers would have to complete necessary identification requirements set by Bank of PNG.
They will have their fingerprint impressions taken on a biometric reader.
Once this is done, the customer will be able to perform basic transactions such as savings, deposits, withdrawals and checking their balance conveniently, literally at the touch of their fingertips.
“After the pilot, we intend to rapidly replicate the MAPs in other parts of the country, helping to bring easy to use financial services closer to rural people in PNG, and particularly women,” Das said.

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