Getting serious about digital in Papua New Guinea

ASX- and PNGX-listed Kina Bank is leading the way in Papua New Guinea’s digital revolution. Chief Executive Officer Greg Pawson outlines the opportunities for business, government and consumers.

In terms of ecommerce, the focus in PNG is on the public sector. We’re very reliant on a lot of these state enterprises. But making them more efficient reduces the cost of doing business.

Original Article: https://www.businessadvantagepng.com/getting-serious-about-digital-in-papua-new-guinea-opinion/

Our objective is to get state enterprises onto electronic banking, accepting payments and making payments electronically.

The key driver for government, of course, is revenue, because they get payments instantly.

‘Almost two-thirds of our transaction volumes are now digital. It’s a big opportunity.’

We have a pilot program with the Department of Lands and Physical Planning for our payment gateway. The Department can accept online payments, do title searches, produce documents and so on. It’s working very well.

We’ve also done online payments for the Immigration and Citizenship Authority.

Online banking

Reducing cash handling is another big focus. We’re reducing the volume of cash in branches and installing digital kiosks to encourage customers to transact electronically.

We’re heavily reliant on the telecommunications infrastructure for customers to be able to do online transactions but, for many, the cost of doing it is prohibitive. This is why we’ve set up these kiosks – and when our customers come in to do a manual transaction, we show them how to bank online.

Our fee-free banking encourages more customers to transact online, and it’s a first in the Pacific. We are charging a fee to customers who come into a bank to withdraw checks but not to those doing it online.

Almost two-thirds of our transaction volumes are now digital. It’s a big opportunity.

Ecommerce for business

We’ve taken the internet payment gateway out to market with our commercial customers. We can’t keep up with the demand, to be honest.

It’s a huge untapped market opportunity. Obviously, this technology is well known in developed markets but in PNG it’s relatively unique. It was slow to launch due to the perceived risk, but we’ve got over that hurdle because it was just a case of demonstrating that Kina’s got the appropriate risk management in place, particularly in relation to card fraud.

Smartphones

With our new-look corporate online platform, there’s no reason for a business customer to come into a branch anymore. Again, it’s something that business customers in first-world markets would be familiar with, but not quite yet in PNG.

And as the cost of mobile data comes down, people will start using smartphones more, and we’ve got a mobile banking app ready.

For simpler phones, we have Kina Connect, which is on the USSD (GSM) platform in PNG. The uptake has been remarkable: the transaction volumes have increased by about 150 per cent year-on-year. Using your phone to check your balance and transfer funds is a pretty basic offering but, for most people here, it’s perfect.

Greg Pawson is Chief Executive Officer of Kina Bank.