Port Vila, Vanuatu – A consumer survey conducted last year on the demand for financial services in Vanuatu found that 32% of Ni-Vanuatu adults are completely excluded from financial services.
The Financial Services Demand Side Survey (DSS) Report for Vanuatu also reported that a further 21% only access informal financial service instruments such as savings clubs, shop credit, moneylenders, or hire purchases, while 37% of Ni-Vanuatu adults have a bank account.
The Honourable Joe Natuman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trades, Tourism, Commerce & Ni-Vanuatu Business launched the publication at the Economic Symposium held by the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu (RBV) in Port Vila today.
The report provides a comprehensive picture of access and usage of financial services in Vanuatu from a consumer perspective, garnering insights into the financial needs of Ni-Vanuatu as well as establishing baseline information on access, usage and quality of the financial services currently available. According to the nationally representative survey conducted in June 2016, ni-Vanuatu adults more likely to be financially excluded are low-income earners, women, those who earn income from agriculture and those from rural areas.
Hon. Natuman said “this report is an important tool for the Government and other stakeholders to promote financial inclusion as part of an equitable, inclusive economic environment, in the interest of including all citizens of Vanuatu in sustainable economic growth to improve their well-being.
“The findings will assist and guide regulators in developing evidence-based policy solutions to shape the country’s financial inclusion strategy. Policy makers seeking to increase account ownership among agricultural workers should address barriers such as lack of identification, distance to access points, preference for cash, and the perceived cost of setting up formal account”, Hon. Natuman said.
Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) Deputy Programme Manager Krishnan Narasimhan, in presenting the key findings said “The survey shows that although the majority of adults in Vanuatu earn income from agriculture, many are unbanked.
“The findings show that informal savings and credit are used by 80% of adults. Even those with bank accounts save almost 50% of their total savings informally, either at home, with family or other moneyguard, or with savings clubs. This suggests that formal financial services are not fully meeting the needs of Ni-Vanuatu, such as convenience and flexibility of savings, hence we urge financial providers to examine how they can meet this demand”, he added.
The report also highlighted that though there is a significant gender gap in bank account ownership, with only 32% of female adults report owning a bank account, compared to 41% of men, women are more likely to save and those with bank accounts use them more frequently than men.
Vanuatu is the fourth Pacific Island Regional Initiative (PIRI) member to conduct a financial inclusion demand-side survey, after Fiji, Solomon Islands, and Samoa. Formal financial inclusion is widely accepted as contributing significantly to sustainable economic growth.
The Financial Services Demand Side Survey for Vanuatu was led by the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu and Vanuatu National Statistics Office. The survey was made possible through financial support from the New Zealand Government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade via the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme, and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion.
PFIP is a Pacific-wide programme that has helped 1.5 million low-income Pacific islanders gain access to financial services and financial education. It achieves these results by funding innovation with financial services and delivery channels, supporting policy and regulatory initiatives, and empowering consumers.
PFIP operates from the UNDP Pacific Office in Suva, Fiji and has offices in Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Solomon Islands. It is jointly administered by the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and receives funding from the Australian Government, the European Union and the New Zealand Government.
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