The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has set up a new focus group with a brief to establish international standards for what it dubs interoperable digital financial services, as the organisation backs mobile money to bring banking to poor people in the developing world.
The group will also work on a regulatory toolkit to encourage policymakers and regulators to support such services. The group was established in response to a proposal from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
What exactly the ITU is developing standards for is not totally clear. The reference to internationally standardised platforms sounds like the mobile remittance services that are attracting a lot of interest.
Operators and others such as Facebook and a number of startups want to use mobile devices as a cheaper means for sending and receiving remittance payments between countries.
Standards, say the ITU, will “drastically” reduce the cost of delivering mobile money, so potentially making services available to remote and underserved communities.
The group will also highlight technology trends expected in coming years and how the different players’ roles will evolve in response.
It will also look for use cases that pay particular attention to the benefits that mobile money can deliver for women.
As well as standards and regulation, the group will study consumer and fraud protection, and the business models that will best encourage growth.