News and Media

Pacific Islands Fintech Innovation Challenge Aiming to Boost Financial Inclusion, Digital Payments in the Pacific Region

  • June 07, 2022

  • Suva, Fiji

For further information contact:

Sheldon Chanel
Communications Officer
UNCDF Pacific


The UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) invites applications from qualified entities for the recently launched Pacific Islands Fintech Innovation Challenge which aims to address financial inclusion and adoption of digital payments solutions in Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tonga and Samoa.

The Fintech challenge is an initiative of the Australian Government-funded UNCDF Pacific Digital Economy Programme (PDEP) in collaboration with the Market Development Facility (MDF) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Fintechs with proven expertise in developing market-ready, consumer-friendly digital solutions are encouraged to respond to at least one of the five problem statements:

  1. Improving access to financial products and service

  2. Digitizing customer service

  3. Increase usage of financial products and services

  4. Streamlining of foreign exchange

  5. Enabling E-Commerce and in-person POS merchant payment services

The application period is open for a month until 20th June and will be followed by a three-day bootcamp during which the Fintechs can pitch their respective solutions to a panel of judges comprising industry specialists, implementing partners and regulators from the region.

The shortlisted participants will receive mentoring and guidance during the bootcamp to ensure solutions are tailored to the needs of Pacific institutions and consumers.

In addition to technical assistance and the opportunity to collaborate with local partners, winning Fintechs can receive grants up to US$50,000 depending on the investment readiness level and outreach potential of the solution proposed.

Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, Mr John Feakes, said: “The Pacific Islands Fintech Innovation Challenge is a great initiative. Expanding the formal financial sector in the Pacific and getting more people to participate in the sector will contribute to growth, enhance financial inclusion and reduce inequality.”

UNCDF’s Regional Technical Specialist, Mr Ajay Jagannath, said: “In the Pacific, the challenges of limited infrastructure and geographic remoteness hampers financial sector development and inclusion. Traditional approaches to business and finance relies on physical infrastructure and scale. Fintech solutions have immense potential to complement existing efforts to promote financial inclusion and drive adoption of digital payments.”

The UN Capital Development Fund makes public and private finance work for the poor in the world’s 46 least developed countries (LDCs). UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development. UNCDF’s financing models work through three channels: (1) inclusive digital economies, which connects individuals, households, and small businesses with financial eco-systems that catalyse participation in the local economy, and provide tools to climb out of poverty and manage financial lives; (2) local transformative finance, which capacitates localities through fiscal decentralisation, innovative municipal finance, and structured project finance to drive local economic expansion and sustainable development; and (3) investment finance, which provides catalytic financial structuring, de-risking, and capital deployment to drive SDG impact and domestic resource mobilisation.

The Pacific Digital Economy Programme (PDEP) supports the development of inclusive digital economies in Fiji, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Vanuatu and Tonga. The programme is built on the success of Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP’s) long-term work on developing digital finance ecosystems in the region. PDEP is implemented by UNCDF, UNDP and UNCTAD, with support from the Government of Australia. This unique partnership builds on UNCDF’s long-term work on digital finance in the Pacific region and UNCTAD’s extensive work in e-commerce and the digital economy and is implemented with the administrative support from UNDP. The PDEP includes both country-specific activities, initially focusing on Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, and region-wide research and capacity building activities.