Delving into digital: Kina finds its sweet spot

The entry of Papua New Guinea’s Kina bank into the fairly competitive Fiji market later this year will bring a range of digital products that should stimulate further  innovation in the sector and more choice for customers.

Kina announced it was acquiring Westpac’s PNG and Fiji businesses last year, marking the end of  the Australian bank’s long history in both countries. Westpac (then the bank of New South Wales) opened its first branch in Suva in 1901 and began operating in Port Moresby nine years later. Those countries and their economies are dramatically different now.

Kina has been through a similar process with another Australian bank, ANZ, quite recently. In September 2019 Kina finalised the partial transition of ANZ’s balance sheet to its books, when it bought the deposits and loans for ANZ’s retail, SME and commercial customer base in PNG.

While ANZ continues to operate in PNG with a focus on corporate customers, in particular Australian businesses operating in the country, the transaction gave Kina a national footprint and branch network across PNG.

In contract, the Westpac acquisition in PNG and Fiji will see Kina will take over the business as a going concern says CEO Greg Pawson.

“The reason we were keen to acquire Westpac PNG  was because they’re bigger in the corporate sector than we are. It gives us access to that corporate market here, which in PNG is really important because that’s where the foreign exchange is,” says Pawson.

The appeal of the Fiji business he says, is that it’s an end-to-end business, and that while they’ll be “playing in all sectors of the market”, it’s the small and medium sized enterprises that are really calling out for growth. “That’s our sweet spot. That’s absolutely where we play. And a lot of that, that banking offer is around digital services, digital platforms,” Pawson says.

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