‘Subjects of Interest' July 2009
Mobile Money Summit in Barcelona (23 and 24 June 2009)
Mobile banking is a ‘hot’ item at the moment. The money transfer services using a mobile phone are a proven technology already for some years.
The Money transfer services in the developed countries, characterised by a high penetration of modern banking services, have a complementary character and are in most countries commercially still in a developing stage. The so called ‘proximity’ services (paying with your mobile instead of e.g. debit card on site via a terminal ) are available but commercial not yet fully developed.
But In a number of developing countries using mobile phones for money transfer services is already a success. This success is and has been determined by the lack of or limited outreach of the banking infrastructure and the high level of un- and under-banked people. The penetration of ‘owners’ of a mobile phone is high also in these un-banked categories (up to more than 50%). The relatively easy way of using these phones for money transfers (by sms) is an important factor for its strong growing success.
On 23 and 24 June 2009 The Mobile Money Summit took place in Barcelona, organised by the GSM Association (GSMA) and co-organised by CGAP (Consultancy Group for Advancing the Poor), DFID (Department of International Development of the UK) and IFC (International Finance Co-operation of the World bank) .
An overview of the program and content can be found on the Mobile Money Summit event website of GSMA.
CGAP (and the other co-organisers) emphasised the importance of Mobile money in developing countries to deliver efficient and easy accessible financial services for the un- and under-banked.
For an analytical insight in the event subject, we would like to refer to the Mobile Money Summit website of CGAP in which also a number of projections have been made by CGAP together with GSMA.
The main projections are:
- ‘Sharp growth is there for the taking, should mobile network operators succeed in addressing concerns of the un-banked customer; CGAP and GSMA project that 364 million low-income, un-banked people could use mobile financial services in 2012,…’;
- ‘By 2012, the number of people without a bank account but with a mobile phone is estimated to grow from 1 to 1.7 billion’.
On the website of a remittances search portal and support organisation Mondato Ltd you can find a Mondato Newsletter summarising the findings of the Barcelona event.
POFIB has been invited by CGAP to attend the Summit.
Without going into detail of the many very informative and enlightening presentations and (panel) discussions available, some main conclusions can be drawn:
- Money transfers via mobile phones are already in a number of developing countries an important financial service for the un- and under-banked (see for some practice examples the Links site of this website) and the CGAP website on the Mobile Banking subject;
- The projections of the market penetration for the coming years show a large potential for mobile operators, financial institutions and agent networks (estimations speak of a $ 250 bln market);
- Critical success factors are not the same for all countries but some main conclusions from present initiatives can be drawn namely:
- The most promising business model looks to be the co-operation model of (a) mobile operator(s), financial sector institutions (e.g. mass retail banks) and agent network(s);
- Marketing is crucial also as 'educational' support for people not familiar with non-cash modern financial services;
- Connecting to a 'Big Brand' can strongly intensify the market penetration;
- Needed is a well organised cash agent network working according regulations applicable in the financial sector (often via Central Bank regulations) with a secure cash management solution.
- At the event was announced by Western Union that it has decided to intensively align itself and their agent network to these Mobile Money transfer initiatives.
A study on the subject of the Role of Mobile operators in Expanding Access to Finance (brief) can also be found on the website of CGAP.