Navitalai Veitala is the shopkeeper of the Mission store at Natuvu, Bucabay, Natewa, Cakaudrove.
He says that before the Westpac Instore banking service was introduced Social Welfare recipients had to go all the way to Savusavu to access their funds at the beginning of every month.
"This was a difficult exercise as most recipients are old and travelling every month was difficult and expensive.
"Travelling was a three hour bus ride for those in Tunuloa, Buca, Vunikura, Nawi villages and other nearby settlements.
"One way bus fare ranges from $5 to $10 to Savusavu but today to get to me they just pay 70 cents or $2 at the most one way.
The expensive bus fares and long rides for the elderly triggered Navitalai's quest to find solutions for these villagers to receive the same services at his shop.
"I started off with withdrawals so the Westpac Bank returned and upgraded my system at the shop to allow for In-store Banking services. "Today clients can deposit, withdraw, send money or pay bills through this in-store banking and I serve up to 50 clients a month," he said.
Navitalai's clients include civil servants and other employees as well as farmers and villagers.
"They are very relieved and feel blessed as the banking services they need is brought right to their doorsteps, and I feel good to be part of this."
Navitalai says this program kicked off in October.
"We also serve hot food and drinks, cold drinks as well as ice cream and other snacks for the Social Welfare beneficiaries to make their trips pleasant. "I am grateful to Westpac for this service for reaching out to rural communities and bringing the bank home," he said.
Westpac's In-store Banking service has been embraced by the merchants and people in rural areas around Fiji.
Recently launched earlier this month, the new service is a first of its kind for Fiji and the Pacific which offers an electronic branchless banking infrastructure designed specifically for rural and remote areas.
Simple to use via EFTPOS machines, bank customers have the opportunity to access their accounts performing traditional bank teller transactions at their rural local merchant. Transactions include: cash withdrawals, cash deposits, transfer between accounts - with own accounts at Westpac, pay others - transfer funds to other Westpac accounts and accounts held with other local banks, mini statements - check last 10 transactions performed on your account, BillPay and enquire balances.
All transactions performed via Westpac's In-store Banking are "real time" adding to customer convenience.
"The more Fijians bank the better for our country as a whole. Access to financial services helps protect and grow the savings of our poor, facilitates increased economic activity and promotes growth for the future," Permanent Secretary from the Prime Minister's office, Lt-Col Pio Tikoduadua said at the official launch of the In-store Banking service in Naubouwalu, Bua. Westpac's Head of E Business Yvonne Brackterfield said Westpac currently had a strong network of In-store merchants and was planning to increase this to 50 locations by the end of the year.