On 12 June, Solomon Islands launched its third mobile money service, M-SELEN. Thanks to Our Telekom, Solomon Islands leading mobile network operator, and the support from the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the app will be a key enabler to financial inclusivity and online purchasing for the unbanked population.
According to the Pacific Regional E-commerce Strategy and Roadmap, banking penetration is relatively low in the Pacific. In this context, mobile money solutions provide sound alternatives for businesses and costumers alike. Mobile money is already present in Solomon Islands: the current mobile money landscape includes Ezi Pei (operated by Solomon Post) and iumiCash. However, Our Telekom’s mobile money service is considered a game-changer due to the telecom company’s extensive mobile phone presence in the country, with 400,000 subscribers, accounting for 57% of the population.
Dr Luke Forau, Governor of the central Bank of Solomon Islands said, ‘Mobile money will act as a powerful tool to expand access to financial services, reaching even the most remote areas where traditional banks have been unable to establish”. With 80% of Solomon’s population residing in rural and remote areas, the introduction of the new mobile money service is expected to bring about a significant transformation in trade dynamics for the Pacific nation.
M-SELEN is a great example of directly implementing both the national and regional e-commerce strategies. Solomon Islands launched its first National E-commerce Strategy and Roadmap in April 2023. One of its key 2027 targets involves providing digital payment access to 50% of adults and 75% of registered businesses, as well as enabling 50% of individuals over 15 years old to use mobile money and other digital payment options. Similarly, Measures 5.1.1 and 5.1.4 of the Pacific Regional E-commerce Strategy and Roadmap recommend promotion of mobile money services to support financial inclusion and online purchases.
The project is an initiative of the Pacific Digital Economy Programme (PDEP) and is supported by the Government of Australia. PDEP is jointly administered by UNCDF, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and receives support from the Governments of Australia and New Zealand and the European Union.
For an overview of PDEP’s projects in the Pacific, click here.