Two major mobile banking programmes targeting unbanked customers are being launched in Africa and Latin America. News of the initiatives follows the release of a study predicting m-banking could play a major role in reaching people outside the regular financial system.
MoneyBoxAfrica - an initiative promoted by Nigeria's Integrated Capital Service - has teamed with German vendor paybox to create a pan-African mobile banking and payments system.
Paybox says its Mobiliser platform and Money Mobiliser product will enable customers to remotely save money into their accounts, top up phones, pay utility bills and tithes, buy insurance, send money to friends and relatives, withdraw cash at agents' locations or ATMs, get access to credit and make investments.
The system will be rolled out in Nigeria "in the near future" before a wider deployment across Africa.
Paybox says that around 80% of Nigerians are unbanked or underbanked. In contrast 28% of people in the country have mobile phones, making banking through handsets an attractive proposition.
"In a cash-dominated market, offering a banking solution to anyone with access to a mobile phone has a huge potential," says Eckhard Ortwein, CEO, paybox.
Adeniyi Elumaro, CEO, MoneyBox Nigeria, adds: "We will bring an innovative system to the market that can enable possibilities, bank the unbanked and under-banked and deliver dividends of democracy to Africans starting with Nigerians."
Meanwhile global telco Telefónica says it has partnered the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) on a mobile banking initiative, to launch in July, targeting 175 million unbanked people in Latin America.
Telefónica says more than 65% of the population in Latin America has no access to banking services. In contrast, mobile phone penetration is now around 70% in the 13 countries where Telefónica operates - up from 45% two years ago.
Matthew Key, CEO, Telefónica Europe says the project aims to "improve financial access in Latin American markets by providing an m-banking solution to some of the most vulnerable in society - those groups that do not currently have access to banks or financial services".
A new report from microfinance body the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CAGP) says mobile banking, although not yet living up to the hype it has created, has the potential to reach large numbers of poor people who are outside the formal financial system.
The organisation calls for the development of interoperable payments platforms, practical and risk-based approaches to regulation, as well as shared networks of cash-handling agents.
Read the CAGP study here: Download the document now 259.1 kb (PDF File)