Sep 11 2022

Ensuring financial inclusion with reliable internet connectivity

Internet connectivity has become a core system for the world’s financial institutions. From international transfers and business banking to ATM withdrawals and Point-Of-Sale systems, a good quality internet connection is a key component. In Fiji, for example, there are around 12 million transactions through ATMs annually, with a total value of around $1.5 billion. Around $1 billion worth of payments were made through Electronic funds transfer at point of sale (EFTPOS), and around $5.5 billion EFTPOS transactions in total1.

 

One of the fundamental characteristics of any modern developed economy is near-universal financial inclusion, where all citizens have access to a formal financial system. Banking is the backbone of the global economy, and more than ever, it depends on internet connectivity and modern digital solutions. By far, one of the biggest challenges of the banking industry lies in serving the most remote banking branches securely and connecting rural and isolated communities with affordable Banking internet.

providing satellite internet coverage in rural areas

Another area of interest is the importance of international remittances for the local economy. For many Pacific Island nations, remittances make up a very large part of the country’s income. It was estimated in 2020 that around 38% of all GDP for Tonga was remittance-based, as well as 19% of Samoa’s GDP[2]. The series of interconnected networks which allows remittances to be paid between countries is already fragile, largely due to political and legislative tensions. This instability is only made worse by inconsistent internet coverage in Enterprise sectors and in other isolated areas. As more remittances are being paid – and as the amounts grow – more secure and reliable ways of sustaining Banking internet connection at the receiving end of the transaction need to be implemented.

 

[1] https://www.fijitimes.com/ali-180b-worth-of-transactions/
[2] https://www.rbnz.govt.nz/hub/news/2021/07/tide-going-out-on-pacific-banking-services

 

Here are some of the main connectivity challenges the finance sector currently faces:

  • Lack of accessible fast and reliable connectivity in rural and isolated areas
  • The need to monitor the integrity of transactions in areas with poor connectivity
  • Overcoming congestion issues in high-demand networks like 4G LTE
  • Serving unbanked people who do not have internet connections of their own
  • Aligning with constantly evolving regulatory demands and standards
  • Rolling out branchless and mobile banking services in remote areas

 

Digitising the financial system

The use of digital financial services is rising. With today’s financial operations being heavily dependent on internet connectivity, satellite broadband service promises to bridge the gap by bringing financial inclusion to isolated communities. As a critical enabler of economic growth, improved satellite internet access will allow financial services companies to better serve rural clients and small-island economies so that they too can benefit from digital innovation.

 

In Fiji for example, the Reserve Bank has seen an increase in credit card payments and the use of ATMs and EFTPOS systems. This increased usage puts more strain on the existing infrastructure. Areas in the Pacific that still use dial-up connections to facilitate financial transactions are increasingly struggling, as they find that dial-up is only useful in the case of very small and very few transactions.

 

2 https://www.rbnz.govt.nz/hub/news/2021/07/tide-going-out-on-pacific-banking-services

 

Satellite Internet Servic

 

Providing reliable internet connections via high-powered satellites communication will help to greatly reduce the number of people who are financially excluded. Satellite broadband internet offers universal coverage with 99.9% availability and a readily deployable solution for making that happen. Satellite connectivity also has a proven track record for robust information security – a vital need across the financial sector.

 

Here’s where Kacific, a satellite operator that owns one of the most powerful Ka-band satellites in the Asia-Pacific region, Kacific1, comes in. The particular type of satellite broadband internet technology used by Kacific, is the most widely adopted in the finance sector – the very small aperture terminal (VSAT). Kacific’s 1.2m VSAT antennas are small, remote terminals that can access Kacific1, and are designed to transmit high throughput data which is more than ample for point-of-sale transactions and ATM withdrawals.

 

VSAT Satellite Systems For Rural Communities

Another main benefit of VSAT satellite systems is that it is affordable and quick to deploy, allowing banks to continuously expand the reach of their services for the betterment of rural economies and rural communities. Giving people access to financial institutions, including the ability to process payments, manage accounts and invest, will help to encourage greater prosperity in these regions.

 

In the same way that money only has value if people believe that it does, banks are only going to be valuable, trusted services if their connections to their customers and the rest of the world are also reliable.

 

Satellite: a back-up solution

The Pacific region is prone to natural events which can threaten telecommunications infrastructure – thus threatening the connectivity which enables digital transactions. Alongside extreme weather, natural disasters such as earthquakes, cyclones and tsunamis can easily damage undersea fibre cables, cell towers, and other ground-based infrastructure. The World Risk Index 2020 ranked five Pacific Island countries in the top 20 most at-risk countries from natural disasters and extreme weather events. Vanuatu and Tonga were ranked the most and second-most vulnerable countries in the world in this respect[3].

 

In the case of a natural disaster, the ability of local people to access remittances and donations becomes crucial. In nations constrained by ground-based infrastructure, Governments and large enterprises are turning to satellite technology to solve connectivity issues. Satellite communications technology has a distinct advantage over its ground-based counterparts; it can be used even when natural events have disrupted the ground-based telecoms networks. With the banking sector playing a key role as an essential service following natural disasters, it needs to consider backup connectivity solutions for business continuity and real-time connections.

 

[3] The World Bank In Pacific Islands

 

Kacific’s Enterprise Backup solution offers the financial sector an on-demand satellite internet services. In short, it acts as an insurance policy for when the main connection (usually fibre or cellular) to the internet is severed by providing a secondary high-speed internet connection via a small satellite dish. In the event of a network disruption, the satellite service can be quickly activated to provide connectivity.

 

Large & small office backup plans

 

The solution offers a download speed of up to 70Mbps and upload speed of up to 20Mbps,matching those of a terrestrial system and significantly exceeding traditional satellites. Using a diversity site for the uplink, the Kacific Enterprise Backup solution is built on Kacific1 Ka band infrastructure, and can achieve high availability up to 99.93%.

 

Our small office backup plan starts from only USD 50, and our large office backup plans start from USD 100. Both backup plans are compatible with our small and accessible 1.2m VSAT terminal kit and a one-time installation fee starting from USD 570 for the small office internet plans and USD 909 for the large office back up plan, making it affordable for most enterprises.

 

This backup system is a common reliable option for modern financial services; it instills confidence and provides a means for business continuity. If a primary connection goes down, the organization will still be able to offer services, access databases, undertake transactions and continue critical systems.

 

Learn more about Kacific’s services at https://kacific.com/services/internet-for-business and www.kacific.com/services/kacific-enterprise-backup/