Everyday bank transactions will now be easier for people throughout Vanuatu under the first phase of reforming the country’s commercial banking payment system.

Debit card transactions in Vanuatu will become more convenient, benefiting businesses and consumers under an initiative jointly developed by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the Bankers’ Association of Vanuatu (BAV). It’s expected the changes, which will enable point of sale payment systems and automated teller machines, ATMs, to be used by any domestic bank card, will also drive efficiencies and help boost the number of people accessing financial products.

Under the current system in Vanuatu, each of the commercial banks has its own ATMs and EFTPOS terminals, with only Bank South Pacific (BSP) and National Bank of Vanuatu (NBV) allowing their customers to share these devices. But under the interchange agreement, people will be able to use their debit cards at any ATM or EFTPOS operated by all five banks in the country. Bred Bank and NBV Bank are joining the new system from today.

“This landmark banking sector initiative will drive financial inclusion by allowing these payments and banking terminals to be located more efficiently around Vanuatu,” said Geoff Toone, Chairman of Bankers’ Association of Vanuatu. “This is a fundamental steppingstone towards reducing the role of cash and potentially enabling new products and services.  Soon all commercial banks in Vanuatu will also connect, offering businesses and customers a seamless experience across the nation.”

These changes are expected to enable more widespread use of ATMs and EFTPOS machines, which will ultimately bring down costs for consumers, merchants and banks when cards are used to buy goods or services. All banks are expected to connect to the new system next year, after rigorous testing.

“This project will improve people’s access to financial products across Vanuatu. It will also reduce the need for cash and any associated security risks and deliver the ultimate benefit of bringing down costs for consumers and merchants,” said Thomas Jacobs, IFC Country Manager for Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. “If only half of existing ATMs and EFTPOS machines were operating under the new reform, many more people across Vanuatu would be able to use them, creating more opportunities for businesses.”

The new system was led by Bankers’ Association of Vanuatu (BAV) which includes ANZ Bank, BRED Bank, BSP, NBV, and Wanfuteng Bank. The collaborative approach was undertaken to enable accessible and affordable access to financial products and services. IFC, with the support of the governments of Australia and New Zealand, brought its global expertise to provide technical assistance to this project with strong support from the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu.

SOURCE – IFC

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