Five years in the making, Peru has launched a national mobile money network, with the aim of drawing five million of the country's unbanked into the formal banking system.
Duibbed 'BIM', the low-tech mobile money programme has been launched by Peru Digital Payments, a $10 million special-purpose company created by 34 of the country's leading banks, with the support of major carrier networks.
With four-in-five of the Peru's 30 million citizens operating outside of the formal banking system, BIM has set its sights on signing up five million user over the next five years. Designed to work on the cheapest mobile handsets, BIM enables cash transfers between phones for a 15 cent fee.
Driven by the The Association of Banks (Asbanc), the project has been on the drawing board for many years. Asbanc president Oscar Rivera says: "At the beginning there were only a handful of banks who thought this project was possible. Gradually, they were joined by others, then the three major phone companies, the Association of Microfinance Institutions (ASOMIF), Savings Bank Association Municipal savings and Credit (FEPCMAC) and the National Bank. The level of participation and integration achieved today makes this initiative unique in the world."
Rivera says future plans include the extension of the system to offer loans and other basic banking services to users.
"This project not only democratises the opportunities in the country but is a tool that will improve the quality of life of Peruvians with fewer resources," he says.