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TDB launches new NZ-Tonga money transfer service

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TDB launches new NZ-Tonga money transfer service

Tonga's economy depends majorly on money Tongan nationals send from overseas but sending money to this tiny country in Oceania has been a challenge. These sentiments were made yesterday by Hon. Akilisi Pohiva the current Prime Minister of Tonga.

He was the chief guest at the launch of Ave Pa'anga Pau, a new voucher remittance service funded by the Tonga Development Bank.

The Prime Minister highlighted some of these challenges which he said includes the high costs of sending money by use of commercial means, strict rules surrounding money transfer services and non-compliance of local money transfer services.

"Approximately 30 percent of our economy is propelled by regular remittances we received from our people in overseas. We also depend much on this money to support our loved ones. But I know sending money to this country has been a challenge over the years,” the Prime Minister said.

He added that several senders overseas face several challenges such as high cost of sending money to Tonga. He also highlighted that several people in Tonga also have to endure a lot of difficulties to receive money.

Money transfer businesses which are owned locally have been shut by commercial banks because of non-compliance with counter financing terrorism and anti-money laundering requirements.

The Prime Minister also said that established money transfer operators in Tonga have been forced to shut their doors. In fact, all the signs point to a further decline of the money transfer operators supporting the Tonga- New Zealand remittance channel.

The authorities had requested the Tonga Development Bank to assist in reviving the remittance channel. He added that TDB was seen as stable, trustworthy and committed to the development and well-being of Tongans.

Over the last three years, IFC assisted in the development of the voucher remittance service.

The new voucher remittance service, Ave Pa'anga Pau, was described as an affordable and friendly service which can be used from anywhere.

Innovative

Ms. Leta Kami, CEO of Tonga Development Bank, has said that Ave Pa'anga Pau is an innovative online service and the first of its kind in Oceania. It works in a unique way different from other money transfer services.

Money is sent from New Zealand bank accounts to New Zealand TDB accounts. Then Tonga Development Bank gives the recipients in Tonga either by cash at their branches or deposited into a TDB bank account.

Tonga Development Bank will ensure Tongans are educated about the service, bank accounts, and electronic technologies.

The service is targeting over 3000 Tongans who live and work in New Zealand. It will also be extended to the United States and Australia in the near future.

In other news

Last month, Thailand launched a new mobile payments system allowing customers to transfer money easily and cheaply than those offered by conventional banks. This mobile payments scheme aimed at pushing Thai people into the formal economy.

The money transfer system, PromptPay, enables registered customers to transfer their funds to the other people using only the national ID number and mobile number of the recipient.

"For 10 years, we have made several attempts trying to bring new changes in payment methods from cash-based methods to digital ones. Finally, we have taken the first milestone to a cashless society,” Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong told reporters.

The launch, which was initially scheduled for October last year, did not happen because of some technical glitches on the platform. In December, Thailand government authorities began testing the system by sending welfare payments to low-income people.

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