Westpac celebrates 100 years of banking in Papua New Guinea


On May 10, 1910 two young men established PNG’s first commercial bank. Burns Philp had been reluctantly providing banking services before Messers Pickering and Sefton arrived at Port Moresby harbour, and set up shop as the Bank of New South Wales in Douglas Street.

The Bank of New South Wales at a Lae market in 1958. Credit: Westpac

The Bank of New South Wales at a Lae market in 1958. Credit: Westpac

Branches at Samarai, Rabaul, Kavieng, Salamua, Wau, Madang and Boroko were opened over the next 50 years.

Now known as Westpac, the bank celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2010. Today it has 16 branches across the country and around 380 employees. ‘This year is a celebration for our stakeholders and also celebrates the beginning of the PNG’s trading economy,’ says Ross Hammond, Westpac PNG’s Managing Director. ‘We look forward to sharing with our staff, customers and the wider community some of the history of the bank in PNG and how it developed throughout the country … The Westpac story is the story of the country’s development. It is a celebration of successful private enterprise in PNG.’

From straightforward passbook accounts, the bank now offers internet banking, credit cards and a wide network of ATMs and EFTPOS facilities. Its physical expansion has followed PNG’s economic activity, from Wau and Bololo to support the early gold-mining industry to Mount Hagen when agricultural crops began to take off.

Westpac has also played an active role in community development. Its sponsorships and community-based initiatives include the Westpac Women in Business Awards and support for Port Moresby General Hospital, where Westpac employees have raised funds, provided food and bedding and visited with patients at the HIV/AIDS ward. Other recent community initiatives include financial literacy and business development training in partnership with AusAID.

Ross Hammond says the 100th anniversary will be marked in ‘PNG-style’ at all Westpac’s PNG branches. Westpac’s Australian-based Chief Executive Officer Gail Kelly will also attend.

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  1. Frank Koimo says

    I’m looking for anyone who can help mi to locate my grand father’s account.
    He had opened his account back in the 1950’s and had deposited money for savings purpose. Unfortunately he has passed on but his son who is my uncle has asked me to find a way to help him get the savings since he is the next of kin.

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