Seven new projects are to be deployed as part of the Mobile Money for the Unbanked (MMU) Fund, the GSMA announced today.
Launched at the 2009 GSMA Mobile World Congress, the MMU programme is administered by the GSMA Foundation and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the tune of US$12.5 million. It has the aim of encouraging mobile operators to create new services for previously unbanked people in developing countries by making charitable investments in their mobile money initiatives.
The seven new grantees are Cellcard in Cambodia, Digicel in Fiji, Orange in West Africa, Safaricom in Kenya, Tata Indicom in India, Telenor in Pakistan, and Tigo in Africa.
The diverse projects will cover such areas as money transfer, bill payments, international remittances and sophisticated savings and insurance products.
Gavin Krugel, a director at the GSMA, noted that the entire US$12.5 million has now been committed in support of mobile money deployments around the world. “Projects were chosen on their ability to deliver, speed of delivery, scale and sophistication,” said Krugel. “Between now and the end of 2011 millions of consumers are expected to directly benefit from mobile money services launched with the support of the Fund – that is 170 million customers at the base of the economic pyramid and who previously lacked access to financial services, from 19 operators in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.”
The GSMA claims that, since launch of the Fund in February 2009, 11 projects have already begun offering innovative services and “are developing the next generation of services to be offered on mobile money platforms, including social transfer payments, microinsurance and microfinance.”
Recent highlights include Bangladesh’s Grameenphone, which is working to enhance its mobile money service offerings (which were originally limited to bill payment) with a mobile ticketing service for Bangladesh Railways; MTN Uganda, which has appointed hundreds of field registration agents to educate users about mobile money and to sign them up on the spot (a strategy that has to date generated 750,000 registrations); and Vodacom Tanzania, which is piloting a new approach to the common problem of agent liquidity – extending credit to master agents. Other operators on board include Sri Lanka’s Dialog, Afghanistan’s Roshan and the Philippines’ Smart.