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MWC: Mobile banking gets global push

GSMA, several mobile banking vendors expand reach of the mobile platform for unbanked wireless consumers

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“There are of course other initiatives of this kind, and service provider Zain [yesterday] announced a new mobile banking called Zap that it hopes will bring services to over 100 million people in East Africa,” Zoller said. “Hopefully the MMU program results in many more of these services launching in the near future.”

The MMU will fund regulatory and market research on the barriers of providing mobile banking with the goal of demonstrating the business case for serving the unbanked. Wireless operators will get $5 million for mobile money innovation services in emerging markets, and the program will support 20 projects in developing countries with a focus on Africa, Asia and Latin America. The ultimate goal is to reach 20 million previously unbanked people with mobile financial services by 2012.

The GSMA also built on its mobile banking initiative by today announcing new developments in its Mobile Money Transfer (MMT) program, which leverages mobile to facilitate access to money transfer services. The association has had an alliance with The Western Union Company for the past 18 months and today selected Belgacom International Carrier Services and its technology partner eServGlobal, as well as global bank RBS Group, as new remittance provider for the program. In total, the MMT has gone from serving three markets with one wholesale remittance provider in 2007 to 54 markets with 12 providers today.

World’s largest electronics payment provider Visa will also join forces with the GSMA on its global mobile money initiatives, providing mobile money transferring globally. The two will work to develop standards for mobile money transfer and payments to limit market fragmentation and improve carrier interoperability. Visa and several GSM mobile network operators have already launched or completed mobile payment trials in several countries where the Visa payment app was embedded into the SIM card, enabling Visa account holders to easily switch the app between handsets.

Even with the state of the economy, financial advisory firm the Aite Group expects the mobile banking movement to continue, forecasting mobile banking to generate $26 million in revenue in 2009, up from only $4.1 million in 2007. Fiserv and Mobile Money Ventures (MMV) are other mobile banking companies that share the goal of spreading mobile banking. MMV was formed as a joint venture between Citi and SK Telecom and spun off as its own entity last month. CEO Steve Kietz said the company’s goal is to launch mobile banking in 10 countries by the first quarter of 2010, as well as launch a Citi North America client for the iPhone and other devices beginning in the first quarter.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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