Monday, February 16, 2009

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Fund Financial Services through Mobiles

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will support a new program aimed at expanding the availability of financial services to millions of people in the developing world through mobile phones. The Mobile Money for the Unbanked (MMU) programme, supported by a US$12.5 million grant from the foundation, will work with mobile operators, banks, microfinance institutions, government and development organizations to encourage the expansion of reliable, affordable mobile financial services to the unbanked.


The MMU programme will fund regulatory and market research to help overcome some of the barriers of providing these services and demonstrate the business case for serving this market. The programme includes a US$5 million fund to catalyse a new wave of mobile money innovation, encouraging mobile network operators to create new services for previously unbanked people in emerging markets. The MMU programme will support approximately 20 projects in developing countries, focusing on Africa, Asia and Latin America, with the goal of reaching 20 million previously unbanked people with mobile financial services by 2012.



"There are over 1 billion people in emerging markets today who don't have a bank account but do have a mobile phone," said Rob Conway, CEO and Member of the Board of the GSMA. "This represents a huge opportunity and mobile operators are perfectly placed to bring mobile financial services to this largely untapped consumer base. Based on the initial findings of research conducted with the microfinance centre CGAP and McKinsey & Company, we believe that mobile money for the unbanked has the potential to become a US$5 billion market opportunity over the next three years."



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http://www.gsmworld.com/http://www.gatesfoundation.org

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