The GSM Association (GSMA) has announced the details of the first four recipients of grants from the Mobile Money for the Unbanked Fund (MMU), which is administered by the GSMA Foundation, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The first operators who will receive grants are geographically diverse and include AXIS in Indonesia, Oi in Brazil, Roshan in Afghanistan,and SMART Communications in the Philippines.
The AXIS mDUIT project is a greenfield deployment in Indonesia and is due to launch in December. AXIS has a significant opportunity to bank the unbanked via mobile in Indonesia, as only 40 million of the countrys total population have bank accounts, whereas 90 million have mobile phone subscriptions. AXIS will offer a range of services to consumers via mobile, including payments, savings and credit.
In its proposed service, Brazilian operator Oi intends to provide individuals living in low income and remote communities with access to basic banking services, and encourage development. The proposed service will allow individuals to receive welfare funds, make domestic remittances and buy products at participating merchants' stores. A cash-out option is also being considered.
Building a distribution network that has the ability to grow and manage customers in a country at war is the main focus of Afghanistan operator Roshan. Currently, 97% of Afghans are unable to access traditional banking services, with 76% of Afghans residing outside major urban centres. M-Paisa will provide mobile money services to rural entrepreneurs, women, public and private institutions, and those in extreme poverty.
SMART Communications Island Activations Program in the Philippines will benefit those on remote islands or inland locations who are isolated, have no or limited access to financial services, and limited electricity. SMART aims to build remote economies through reaching the underbanked and unbanked, and so enable customers to send and receive domestic remittances, re-load e-wallets, pay bills or send money via the SMART Money Platform.
The scope of these projects is hugely exciting as they will not only provide mobile money services to the unbanked, but will also have the ability to enhance the way whole communities live and carry out business by helping them achieve stability, economic growth and fostering entrepreneurial opportunities, says GSMA Director, Gavin Krugel.
The MMU programme is supported by a $12.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and works with mobile operators, banks, microfinance institutions, government and development organizations to encourage the expansion of reliable, affordable mobile financial services to the unbanked. The MMU Fund exists to accelerate mobile money deployments which target base of the pyramid consumers who are unbanked, and is considering applications from operators around the world.