Samoa
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New Digital Payment System to Boost Samoa’s Financial Inclusion and Support Economic Activity

Apia, Samoa, May 16, 2023- Samoans are set to benefit from their new national digital payment platform, which will make it easier and quicker to transfer funds, including large volume for retail payments, helping accelerate growth of digital financial service offerings by financial institutions and drive inclusive economic development.

The new digital platform, the Samoa Automated Transfer System (SATS), is expected to increase access to the financial system for all Samoans, half of whom do not have a bank account or use formal financial services. It will enable electronic domestic payments, ensuring real time settlement of interbank payments.

“The new Samoa Automated Transfer System is transformative for Samoa’s banking system, helping us create a more resilient and modern financial system, which is more efficient, transparent and safe,” said the Central Bank of Samoa Governor Maiava Atalina Emma Ainuu-Enari.

“It will enable us to better serve consumers and will facilitate the ability of banks and financial institutions to offer new services. It is a major pillar of our move to a more digital economy, bringing far reaching benefits including reducing the cost of exchanging goods and services, driving down the role of cash and manual processing of payments, and improving economic efficiency.”

Samoa’s current payment system is inefficient and can result in significant delays in clearing funds which hampers everyday commerce and economic activity as transfers between banks can only be carried out manually using the clearing of cheques.

Central Securities Depository
The ongoing financial infrastructure reform program, overseen by the Central Bank of Samoa, will also see the launch of a Central Securities Depository, a financial market platform based on an electronic registry, ensuring safe custody of government securities. The Central Securities Depository, which will be linked to the SATS system in real time, will enable the issuing, trading, and settlement of securities, reducing the risks for all parties, increasing efficiency and supporting the development of Samoa’s capital markets.

“Secure, affordable, and accessible payment systems and services help expand financial inclusion, foster economic development and activity, and support promoting financial stability. This new platform will have multiple benefits for the people of Samoa, contributing to the growth of new financial services and helping make life easier for businesses,” said Judith Green, IFC Country Manager for Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands.

“IFC is working with central banks and other partners across the Pacific to help develop safe, reliable and efficient national payment systems, which are crucial to help reduce poverty and boost people’s prosperity.”

With the support of the governments of Australia and New Zealand as well as the World Bank, IFC has provided technical expertise to the Central Bank of Samoa in relation to building modern financial infrastructure.

“We know the power of transformative digital solutions to lift communities, particularly women and small businesses, so we congratulate the Central Bank of Samoa for this critical work that ensures financial empowerment and resilience for Samoa’s people as we enter an increasingly digital era.  Australia is proud to support transformative digital solutions across the Blue Pacific making everyday transactions more equitable, ensuring equitable outcomes, progress and prosperity for all,” said Emily Luck, Australia’s High Commissioner to Samoa.

New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa Dr. Trevor Matheson said “Aotearoa New Zealand is proud to support the development of this important platform which will strengthen Samoa’s financial infrastructure. Strong financial systems like this contribute to shared prosperity and stability in the Pacific, helping to underpin sustainable development.”

This latest development in Samoa comes after similar initiatives in Papua New Guinea and Fiji by IFC to help facilitate responsible and inclusive digital financial services in the Pacific.

Pacific Partnership
IFC’s work in Samoa is supported by the Pacific Partnership. Australia, New Zealand and IFC are working together through the Partnership to stimulate private sector investment and reduce poverty in the Pacific.