UNCDF has been working in Vanuatu since 2008, improving governance and service delivery through fiscal decentralization and increased local investment capacity.
Today, 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 is bringing its expertise in promoting financial inclusion and local development to support climate change and natural disaster risk management though the Pacific Insurance Climate Adaptation Programme.
UNCDF jointly implemented the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) with UN Development Programme. The overall objective of the Programme was to increase the number of low-income customers who adopted formal financial services. PFIP covered Vanuatu, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Samoa and Tonga. The Programme aimed to link one million Pacific Islanders to the formal financial sector by supporting financial service providers to innovate with products and services for mass market customers, supporting governments to create an enabling policy environment for financial innovation, and empowering consumers.
PFIP achieved this aim through funding of 44 projects in the Pacific with financial service providers who have innovated with technology and products, enrolling customers in services such as agency banking, mobile wallets, micro insurance, micro loans, remittances and savings groups. In 2018, addressing low usage, cost of travel and lack of opportunities to transact, the National Bank of Vanuatu (NBV) and PFIP partnered to migrate of close to 30,000 of its rural customers from a legacy paper-based passbook system to electronic and mobile banking. Through an upgraded tablet-based system, NBV can open accounts, issue debit cards, subscribe customers to mobile banking and provide real-time services in remote and rural parts of Vanuatu. Expanding on this, PFIP’s support with thedigitisation of NBV’s services through the creation of the IsiMobile platform has reached 5,781 customers who can now manage their finances remotely without the need to physically go to the bank. The recent launch of Vodafone’s M-Vatu International Money Transfer Service allows Ni-Vanuatu migrants easily send money back home - where remittances are heavily relied on by families to finance basic needs. Such innovative financial services enable more Ni-Vanuatu people including those in rural and remote areas to access some form of formal financial service – improving their lives and giving more a pathway out of poverty.