Providing banking services to rural businesses, and Small and Medium Enterprise sector is one area that Westpac is now working to improver. “This is a segment ofthe market that is critical forthPNG economy and I think it’s a segment that we as bank haven’t supported particularly well, and certainly Westpac has plans to do that much better,” said Greg Pawson, General Manager, Westpac, Pacific Banking, “We’re very conscious that we haven’t done a great job servicing inthe pastoand we have plans to make sure that we improver those services to small businesses moving forward particularly in more rural locations,” he said.
Mr. Pawson added thatthe bank is working on programs that will suit rural banking and will introducethem soon.
“As a commercial bank operating in PNG we have a huge social obligation to take financial services or banking to those eighty five percent that are unbanked,” said Pawson. “The challenge clearly is thatomost rural areas in PNG are geographically remote and how we can getthese services out to this population in an easy and cost effective way,” he said.
One main concerned raised was that ofthe security ofthe cash transportation amongst ther constraints.
“One ofthe major issues we have isthe cost of transporting cash in and out ofthese locations, andthe security cost which is very high,” Pawson said. “Obviouslythe core utilities like electricity and telecommunications, being able to have access to those services to make this electronic channels work for us is really important as well.” “And, for us to get much broader coverage, we are certainly going to need support from government to improver infrastructure, telecommunication, and electricity, he said.
Mr. Pawson added that Westpac is eager to assistthe government inthe growth ofthe SME’sector, and is working toward expanding its footprints despitethese challenges.
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