The Emergence of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency in Papua New Guinea

Jul 28, 2017 at 14:50 // News
Author
Nina Lyon

The Central Bank of Papua New Guinea has launched a program to investigate the possibility of implementing Blockchain technology in the region to tackle some of the country’s financial inclusion issues.

Today, most of the population of Papua New Guinea (PNG) do not use banks. Only 15% of Papua New Guineans have a bank account, thereby limiting economic opportunities for people. 

According to the  announcement, the Bank signed an MOU with Abt Associates, a global leader in research, evaluation, and program implementation, supported by the Australian government to launch a program through the Abt Australia-led PNG Governance Facility project. 

Dr. Jane Thomason, CEO of Abt Australia, stated: 

“Imagine a world where the poor can have an identity which enables access to services and financial inclusion through the use of blockchain technology. It holds tremendous possibilities to transform the way we address issues of poverty and health.” 

Investigating Blockchain advantages 

The Australian Government has already invested $200,000 AUD in helping the Bank of Papua New Guinea investigate the possibility of using Blockchain technology in local finance and economic systems and to increase the rate of financial inclusion. 

The CEO of the Australian Digital Currency & Commerce Association, Nicholas Giurietto, believes that Blockchain technology can help to make financial services more accessible to the local population. He commented to Coinidol.com: 

“PNG is a developing country with many people outside the major towns living a traditional, rural lifestyle. This means that lack of access to the formal banking and credit system is a major issue. The use of blockchain technology to support financial inclusion is a well understood use case. Hopefully, this initial study will lead to a full program.” 

Growing interest in cryptocurrencies in Papua New Guinea 

To date, there is little regulation or legislation on Blockchain or cryptocurrency use in Papua New Guinea. However, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have already gained interest among local citizens.   

The assistant Governor of the Bank of PNG, Ellison Pidik, warned local citizens that the decision to invest in cryptocurrencies is a private initiative and people must be wary. He  commented about the rise of cryptocurrency use in the region: 

“At the moment there are discussions on this thing around the world particularly on blockchain and Bitcoin but is driven by very reputable institutions, in PNG’s case the Central Bank, so that we are protecting people hoping to benefit from it. It has to be run and properly engineered by a government policy and because it involves the banking system it must involve the BPNG and all the banks not individuals.” 

However, the Central Bank of Papua New Guinea intends to follow the development of FinTech. Another project between Abt and the Central Bank aims to establish the PNG Digital Commerce Cryptocurrency Association, which will enable PNG to link up with the Global Blockchain Forum.