Banking ezine
The Sheet
reports on the ANZ’s unusual foray into the Pacific

ANZ Bank’s “most successful” and “fastest growing” business is not in Australia or New Zealand but is instead in Fiji.

In the course of a meet and greet swing through some of ANZ’s Pacific
business units last week, ANZ’s managing director, John McFarlane, told
the Fiji Times
that ANZ would expand services, upgrade branches and increase
investment and staffing. “In five years time, Fiji would be important
to us as a country,” McFarlane said.

ANZ has decided to take an unconventional approach to its plans for the
expansion of banking services in Fiji. Under a program that’s less than
a year old ANZ has become, to some extent, a champion of the un-banked
and the rural poor, and is taking services beyond the larger towns in
the bush and on to islands otherwise isolated from the everyday
shenanigans of commerce.

The mechanism is a little clumsy. An armoured van, or substitute for
some island visits, carts cash, an automatic teller machine, eftpos
machines, computers and batteries and drives out over rough roads to
villages that may be receiving their first tailored banking services
ever. ANZ’s “bank” staff travel separately to the cash, an
acknowledgement of the risks involved in a country where the local hot
heads have waved guns in political anger.

Savings and transactions, for village households as much as merchants,
is at the focus of the bank’s service delivery, and ANZ worked with the
UN Development Program in the design and implementation of its rural
banking scheme in Fiji.

McFarlane gave this scheme a big rap in his media conference. “It is
satisfying to be here at a time when all this is coming together and
producing great results. What I have seen on my visit suggests the best
is yet to come for ANZ in the Pacific and we will continue to invest in
the region to bring this about.”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey