The new Bank Soft system was provided under the partnership between the Manus Provincial Administration and Australian Government, which supports the extension of banking and financial services to the rural majority.
About 8000 Manus locals have seen their savings grow following the introduction of the new system. They include about 5000 village finance members, who pool their savings in shared village accounts, and about 3000 individual account holders.
Transaction records were at least five months behind before the system was introduced. Bringing the records up to date has enabled a flat K40 interest payment to be made to each account – the first such payment since the scheme started. Future interest payments will be paid annually on a percentage basis.
MSLS chairman, Ben Pondrein, says the new software reduced the risk of banking errors and made it easier for members to make deposits.
“For the first time we have a system which will improve productivity and reporting, enabling growth in Village Finance and banking deposits,” he said.
“It will also provide an opportunity for increased lending for business investment and small to medium sized enterprises in the future.”
The Provincial Administration established the Village Finance scheme in 2010. It now has 94 village accounts holding about K307,000 in combined deposits.
Village Finance accounts can be used as collateral when individual members need loans to start small businesses or build houses. Village Finance groups have an average of 20 members each, with three elected officer bearers – a chair, a treasurer and a teller.
The Manus Provincial Administration-Australia partnership is focused on supporting economic development in Manus through a range of initiatives, including business training and financial literacy programs.
(Manus savers: Staff of Manus Savings and Loans at the counter, Dalsy Pondreai, serving a client.)