Ana Escalante

Mobile Plus and FE-Mobile enter the M-Banking and Remittances Phenomenon

Africa- mobileMobile banking seems to be the new way to “bank the poor.” There are a growing number of companies working with these new technologies, some of which have been featured on NextBillion in the past. Schemes vary from those operating with standard in-country banking transactions to those with foreign remittances. Mobile banking is taking off because it is convenient, fast, simple, and secure – money can be transmitted almost instantly. That, and many people in developing countries now own or have access to a phone.

Recently, NextBillion got an e-mail from Mobile Plus and FE-Mobile telling us about their new venture: enabling low-value payments and remittances through mobile phones. Mobile Plus is a small group of entrepreneurs that have built secure payment mechanisms and low value cross border mechanisms for developing countries. According to their press release:Mobile Plus Ltd provides low-cost international call credit and remittance services using a dual purpose card. FE Mobile Ltd provides the SecureLink? mobile security platform…Consumers will purchase pre-paid vouchers in denominations ?20, ?50 and ?100 and transmit the voucher number to the recipient who has a choice: either to make low cost calls or to redeem the voucher (less a small fixed service charge) for cash at a local participating outlet.

Mobile Plus and FE Mobile are not the first companies to provide these types of services, but I still think the whole idea behind m-banking is very interesting. I recently blogged about a similar venture from ISI, and Rob also blogged about ARYTY earlier this year – both companies provide similar services. I think it’s excellent that these services are becoming available to the people living in the BOP, because it gives them access to financial services and the ability to receive money from relatives abroad without the costly punitive fees and charges of incumbent remittance providers.

Although there is no one “global” company for m-banking, those I have found so far cover either one country, a small group of countries or a specific region- such as the case of ARYTY, G-Cash and Smart Money in the Philippines; WIZZIT and MTN Mobile Moneyin South Africa; M-Pesa in Kenya; Celpay in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Finally, cell phones are getting more and more accessible in every corner of the world. With this phenomenon, it is easier to provide services to people almost anywhere and service providers know this. The services can be of a wide range: banking services, remittances, and even health or important information hotlines.

Check out Mobile Plus and FE Mobile’s new project!