Papa New Guinea micro bank deploys fingerprint biometrics to improve financial inclusion

Papa New Guinea micro bank deploys fingerprint biometrics to improve financial inclusion

A financial inclusion initiative in Papua New Guinea is introducing new access points equipped with fingerprint scanners to authenticate bank transactions with biometrics, the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier reports. Women’s Micro Bank has launched the first “Mama Access Point” (MAP) in Port Moresby, as part of a joint project with the Pacific Financial Inclusion Program, with the aim of rolling the access points out to improve accessibility for women in semi-urban and rural areas.

Women’s Micro Bank Director Noel Norikgu says the cost of travelling to bank branches is a barrier to accessing financial services, which is already challenging for many women, as women make up more than half of the country’s informal economy. More access points and biometric identity verification will enable women to open savings accounts and apply for microloans.

To improving access will also make the institution more sustainable by allowing a greater volume of deposits, and biometrics will also reduce fraud, Norikgu says. To that end, biometric tablets will be used for customer identification and transaction authentication.

The project aims to reach 20,000 customers in the pilot phase, and roll out to provinces if successful.

United Nations Resident Coordinator to PNG Gianluca Rampolla commended Women’s Micro Bank’s efforts during the launch of the first MAP, saying that while a relatively small intervention, it could be a very important tool for empowering women.

The Post-Courier reports that Rampolla says the launch “truly shows what partnership can do, partnership between a micro bank, private sector, government entities, United Nations and many others that with an idea, with the use of newer technologies, are aiming at having development impact and making (a) difference in the life of many.”

Biometric authentication is expected by some industry stakeholders to play a major role in expanding financial inclusion.

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