US bank Citi has launched a mobile money tool in the Dominican Republic that lets small-scale merchants pay suppliers through their handsets.
In the Dominican Republic, around two thirds of the approximately 80,000 neighbourhood grocery stores and other small businesses operate on a cash-only basis, says Citi.
Citi Mobile Collect - introduced with local firm GCS Systems and microfinance outfit Banco Adopem - is designed to help these firms, which are not yet part of the banking system, to pay suppliers who are Citi corporate clients through their handsets.
When a merchant receives a delivery the invoice and payments are settled via text message, with both parties receiving immediate conformation via SMS from Citi.
The bank argues that by replacing cash with its system, collections and reconciliation are streamlined, eliminating back-office cash handling and avoiding fraud and security issues.
Máximo Vidal, GM, Citi Dominican Republic, says: "We are offering providers a more efficient way to receive payment from their distributors, even in communities with low levels of banking, allowing them to expand their market."