Ringing in the changes: SIM registration the biggest challenge to bmobile’s ecommerce future in Papua New Guinea


Anthony Pakakota, CEO of bmobile, said that the company’s future is in the space of ecommerce, but some challenges remain, including SIM registration for Papua New Guineans with no form of identification.

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Detail of Bmobile’s ad at Jacksons International Airport. Credit: BAI

The future is mobile according the head of PNG’s mobile phone provider bmobile.

Speaking at BSP’s PNG Business Digital Commerce Forum, in association with the Business Council of PNG, Anthony Pakakota, CEO of bmobile, said that the company has been an early adopter of mobile banking, starting with the ability to use EasyPay for sorting our your PNG Power bill.

‘Today, the growth in Papua New Guineans using mobile banking has grown to well over 70,000 unique users who continue to use mobile banking – and we can only see it grow further,’ Pakakota said. ‘What is necessary, and key, is those API integrations [protocols to allow third-party access to financial institutions] into the banking systems that allow this to happen.

‘The one major challenge that we have had since the introduction of SIM registration is the challenge around identifying unique people.’

‘We have always seen ourselves as a conduit for the banks. Especially, we have supported and collaborated with the banks to bring forward the mobile banking solution to customers that enable people to use their mobile phones to do banking – whether to transfer funds or buy goods and services.’

Another key factor is the roll out of the 4G network to allow speedier access to online services.

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Challenges lie ahead

bmobile’s Anthony Pakakota.

Pakakota told the BSP webinar that bmobile was still working out ways to use its reach into the provinces to help grow its ecommerce business and to include outlying customers ‘particularly those without a bank account’. He added that it was identification in general that was hampering the growth of online banking and that included the SIM registration. SIM card registration has been beset by a series of delays and the current deadline is 30 September for the whole of PNG. Urban centres have already met a deadline of 31 August for registration, but the regional areas present a bigger issue.

‘The one major challenge that we have had since the introduction of SIM registration is the challenge around identifying unique people – proving that someone saying they are Joe Blow is in fact Joe Blow,’ he said. ‘In terms of registering customers, we are in compliance with the SIM registration laws and that has been a major challenge. A lot of Papua New Guineans do not have a valid form of identification and it is somewhat difficult getting people to register – whether it is a bank account or mobile usage.’

Still Pakakota remains positive about the growth of ecommerce at bmobile despite these challenges.

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