The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has created a $10 million fund to encourage firms to set up mobile money services in Earthquake-devastated Haiti.
The foundation - which is working with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on the fund - says that the destruction of more than one-third of the country's bank branches, ATMs, and money transfer stations in the earthquake has meant that cash shortages for Haitians have been severe.
It claims that in the short term mobile money services will help families and friends, humanitarian agencies, charities and donors get billions of aid money and remittances into the hands of Haitians. Meanwhile, in the long term mobile money could help millions improve their lives through easy access to savings accounts and other financial services.
Mark Suzman, acting president, global development program, Gates Foundation, says: "Out of the ruins of Haiti's tragic earthquake, there is an unprecedented opportunity to improve the lives of millions of Haitians and unlock the country's economic potential through mobile money. Making financial services widely available to the poorest families in the developing world can help break the cycle of poverty by giving them a safe place to save, guard against risks, build assets, and provide opportunities for the next generation."
The first firm to launch a mobile money service that meets certain criteria in the next six months will receive $2.5 million while a second to reach the benchmarks within a year will claim $1.5 million. Another $6 million will be awarded as the first five million transactions take place. USAID will also provide around $5 million and contribute technical and management assistance.