MasterCard has launched a mobile money partnership programme designed to bring financial services to underbanked people in developing markets.
MasterCard says that only half of the world's households have bank accounts, leaving 2.5 billion "financially underserved". In contrast, seven out of 10 of the global population have mobile phones and the m-payments market is expected to reach more than $600 billion by 2013, according to Juniper Research.
The card giant says that by bringing together vendor partners through its programme it can help network operators and financial institutions accelerate and expand the development of their mobile offerings.
Comviva, Sybase 365 and Utibain - which between them are already working with more than 200 telcos and banks around the world on mobile services - have signed up as the first partnership programme members.
The group is aiming to offer a wide range of services, through the programme, offering consumers pre-paid companion cards that account holders can use at merchants; virtual card accounts that can be used for e-commerce payments with a user's mobile money account; person-to-person payments between subscribers of two different mobile money services; and face-to-face or remote payments using mobile phones for goods and services at merchants.
Mung Ki Woo, group executive, mobile, MasterCard Worldwide, says: "With about five billion mobile phone users worldwide, this program provides powerful, smart and convenient new payment options to people through a device that's already in the palm of their hands today. Our approach is to work with all leading players in the Mobile Money ecosystem to bring the benefits of electronic payments to those who otherwise wouldn't have access to formal financial services."