Microfinance

Phone operators branch into banking for the poor

BARCELONA, Spain (AFP) — Extending basic banking services to the world’s poor is seen as vital for economic progress in underdeveloped countries and the mobile phone industry is emerging as part of the solution.

Network operators, keen for the revenues such services generate, have launched money transfer programmes in more than a dozen countries, providing a basic service that local banks are unable or unwilling to provide. 

mobile conference

The reason is that mobile networks cover large parts of even the poorest countries, while banks have limited numbers of branches and provide only for those able to pay what are substantial account fees for most people.

“There are over one billion people in emerging markets today who don?t have a bank account but do have a mobile phone,” says Rob Conway, chief executive of mobile industry trade body the GSM Association (GSMA).

Research by microfinance centre CGAP and consultancy McKinsey & Company shows the mobile money market for the unbanked could grow to five billion dollars over the next three years, the GSMA said.

Read more on AFP

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