Mobile finance is indeed on the rise, and all indications are that this industry will be at the forefront of transformation in global financial services. This is perhaps no more apparent than in development finance where mobile technology is leveraged to
deliver financial services to the unbanked.
M-PESA, for example, a money transfer service operating in Kenya, has reached the 1 million customer mark. The service is provided by
Safaricom, which is jointly owned by
Telkom Kenya Limited (60%) and
Vodafone (40%). Clearly the opportunity here is enormous, and it is not limited to the conventional marketplace.
There are numerous financial technology companies positioned to benefit from the anticipated explosion in mFinance - particularly mBanking - with the majority being privately held and/or VC/PE backed. Some of these include:
- Firethorn (US): Provides a single-source integrated application for bank transfers and bill payment.
- Pyxis Mobile (US): Provides wireless app software for financial services professionals. Backed by
Ascent Venture Partners.
- Fundamo (South Africa): Provides a suite of mBanking solutions including P2P and bill payment, prepaid vending, and other services. Backed by
Sanlam, and HBD Venture Capital.
- M-Com (New Zealand): Provides a suite of products including BankAnywhere, M-Billing, and PayAnywhere
- Clairmail (US): The company's focus is "2-way mobile customer interaction," and thus appeals to not only banking, but brokerage and credit card services as well. Backed by
Norwest Venture Partners,
Outlook Ventures, and Jafco Ventures.
- mFoundry (US): Provides a vertical solution for mobile banking, payments and other financial services which enables developers to create cross-platform, cross-carrier applications. Backed by
GRP Partners, Ignition Partners,
NCR Corporation, and Paypal.
- Danal (US, Korea): Provides BilltoMobile, a service which enables consumers to charge online purchases to their mobile phone bills. Backed by
- C-Sam (US): Provides a proprietary Mobile Transaction Platform which aggregates multiple financial and non-financial transaction solutions on a single platform enabling users to "execute transactions in the real as well
[as] virtual worlds."
- CPNI (Canada) : Provides the PAT (Phone Authorized Transfer) suite of solutions which includes PATsend (money transfer), PATbuy (e-commerce via participating merchants), and PATbank (banking).
- ISTS (US) : Provides a comprehensive platform for mobile payment application development.
- Kabira (US): Provides high-performance transaction processing software, including their Payment Solution Suite which enables acquirers, payment processors and issuers to process secure electronic transactions in real
time, and Kabira Trading which is marketed to algo traders and other liquidity providers. Backed by
3i, Sevin Rosen Funds,
Crosspoint Venture Partners,
Star Ventures, Saints Capital,
Argo Global Capital, New England Partners,
IBM, and Mitsui.
- Mcheck (US): Provides mchek/Payment, which enables mobile management of credit/debit cards, and mchek/PassCode, enabling mobile two-factor authentication.
- obopay (US): Mobile money transfer. Backed by
Qualcomm, Redpoint Ventures,
- TextPayMe (US): Money transfer via the
Amazon Payments system operated by Amazon.com.
- Voice-Pay (US): Provides a payment system interlinked to voice biometric technologies.
- Fiserv (US): Provider of diversified payments, lending, investment technologies and related BPO. The company is publicly held (NASDAQ: FISV)
is not particularly enthusiastic, citing "anemic" interest among mobile users in both the U.S. and
. While it might not exactly be shooting fish in a barrel,
U.S. mobile usage
is up 58 percent since 2002, and U.S. mobile device ownership is expected to reach 121 million households by 2012. Given this, as well as increasingly mobile consumers, the global need for antipoverty innovation, and the ever-intensifying
real-time requirements of investment professionals, we believe things are about to change.