Yesterday, 12th June 2023 marked a historic day for financial inclusion in the Solomon Islands as Our Telekom launches its highly anticipated Mobile Money Service, M-SELEN.
Funded by Government of Australia and supported by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), M-SELEN is now available in all Our Telekom offices around the country, bringing banking services to previously underserved areas and providing thousands of Solomon Islanders with access to affordable, reliable, and secure financial services.
The Australia–UNCDF-Our Telekom project is the result of a feasibility study carried out in 2019, that aimed to solve the challenges around financial inclusion once and for all. By bridging the financial divide in remote and rural areas, M-SELEN is expected to have a transformative impact on the lives of Solomon Islanders, unlocking economic opportunities, promoting financial literacy, and empowering communities to build a more prosperous future.
M-SELEN provides a hassle-free solution for sending money to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Unlike the time-consuming and risky traditional methods of the past, M-SELEN is easy, safe, and instant. The service can be accessed through any type of phone, making it convenient for everyone. To activate the service, customers only need to present a valid ID at any Our Telekom office. With M-SELEN, sending and receiving money has never been easier.
Christina Lasaqa, Our Telekom’s first female CEO, understands the challenges that Solomon Islanders face like no other, and displays visionary leadership in transforming the company to serve the country better. Lasaqa said: “We believe that mobile money can play a critical role in expanding financial inclusion and empowering individuals and businesses across the country.” CEO Christina Lasaqa emphasizes Telekom’s belief in the transformative power of mobile money. She highlights its potential to break down barriers and promote financial inclusion, empowering individuals and businesses throughout the Solomon Islands.
“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone involved in this groundbreaking project,” says Lasaqa. “Our dedicated project team, invaluable development partners, and esteemed guests have been instrumental in bringing the remarkable M-SELEN service to fruition. Their unwavering support and commitment have been invaluable.”
The Board Chairman of Our Telekom, Baoro Laxton Koraua stated “Our decision to launch a mobile money service is driven by our commitment to financial inclusion, bridging the gap and providing accessible financial services to all Solomon Islanders, regardless of their location or socio-economic status.”
“We believe it will enable those who were previously excluded from the formal financial system to access the benefits that come with financial inclusion, such as improved financial management, increased savings, and access to credit. By making financial services more accessible, we hope to contribute to the economic development of Solomon Islands”
The Australian High Commissioner, Rod Hilton, said that supporting better access to finance, especially for women and people in rural areas, is element of the Solomon Islands-Australia economic partnership.
“Australia is proud to invest in this project with Our Telekom which will allow all Solomon Islanders right across the country to build businesses, receive payments, and buy things they need for their communities. Australia knows financial inclusion is an important priority for the Solomon Islands Government, so we also are happy to stand beside Government counterparts as well as the private sector to deliver outcomes today.”
UNCDF Country Lead, Zoe Victoria Tate said: “M-SELEN is an exciting service that will have a far-reaching impact on the lives of Solomon Islanders. At UNCDF, we are proud to have contributed our technical expertise in Digital Financial Services to help Solomon Islanders build an inclusive digital economy, and we look forward to supporting the service scale up to reach its full potential.”
The Governor Central Bank Dr Luke Forau noted that “The National Financial Inclusion Strategy’s mission is to increase financial services access points from 870 to 1,115; while increase the number of Individuals with a formal financial services account from 283000 to 400,000 of which 50% must be women. We therefore need such innovative solutions like mobile money to achieve this Strategic Intent.”
UNCDF’s Regional Digital Lead, Neha Mehta highlighted that “Mobile money services will pave the way for digitization of the economy. By promoting cashless transactions, reducing the reliance on physical currency, and facilitating digital payments, we are laying a solid foundation for a more efficient, transparent, and inclusive financial ecosystem. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will have greater access to financing, consumers will enjoy enhanced convenience and security, and the government can improve revenue collection and public service delivery.”
As part of Australia’s economic partnership with the Solomon Islands Government, this project is implemented by UNCDF under the Pacific Digital Economic Programme (PDEP). PDEP is jointly implemented by UNCDF, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The Programme is supported by the Government of Australia and the European Union.
The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) is the United Nation’s flagship catalytic financing entity for the world’s 46 Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
With its unique capital mandate and focus on the LDCs, UNCDF works to invest and catalyze capital to support these countries in achieving the sustainable growth and inclusiveness envisioned by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Doha Programme of Action for the least developed countries, 2022-2031.
ABOUT OUR TELEKOM
Our Telekom is a leading telecommunications company in the Solomon Islands, committed to providing affordable and reliable services to its customers. Our Telekom strives to empower the people of the Solomon Islands by bridging the digital and technological divide.