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Mobile banking receives boost

18 февраля 2009

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a mobile-phone-industry trade group are experimenting with programs that let consumers in Asia, Africa and Latin America access financial services through their cellphones, part of a broader effort to turn mobile phones into a financial tool in developing countries.

The philanthropists and the GSM Association said they studied how existing mobile-finance programs are being used, and are now working with banks, mobile operators, governments and microfinance organizations to pilot 20 new mobile-banking programs.

The work is to be funded by a $12.5 million grant from the Gates Foundation, which earlier this year said it would boost investment into programs to promote savings in developing countries.

The GSMA is an industry group that includes leading mobile operators from around the world, such as Vodafone Group PLC, China Mobile Communications Corp. and AT&T Inc.

The association is holding its annual conference this week in

The partnership is part of a broad endeavor to turn the cellphone into a tool for accessing savings and other financial services in emerging countries.

The explosion in recent years of microcredit plans in developing countries has a host of nonprofits, cellphone operators and governments experimenting with ways of reaching people in rural areas without bank branches.

The industry has a model in M-PESA, a payment service in
Kenya run by operators Safaricom Ltd. and Vodafone. M-PESA has attracted millions of clients since it was launched in 2007.

While an enticing concept, banking by phone in developing countries faces major obstacles, including a mix of banking regulations that limit how financial services can be offered.

Kenya, those regulations are loose, allowing services such as M-PESA.
Indian authorities, meanwhile, are still sorting out their mobile-banking policies.

"This is going to play out somewhat differently in any number of countries," said Bob Christen, director of the Gates Foundation group that invests in financial services for the poor.

Источник: Total Telecom

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