Cashing in: why mobile banking is good for people and profit
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Whether it is lack of access to water, energy or education, development professionals are well versed in the plethora of challenges facing billions of people. The traditional approach to solving these problems has been to think big – in terms of the millennium development goals, government aid programmes, or huge fundraising campaigns.
But there are dozens of startups and larger companies with innovative ideas who are approaching these challenges in new ways using digital finance. The success of M-Pesa, which reaches 18.2m registered users in Kenya alone, shows (pdf) how digital finance can become rooted in a country’s economy, but success stories aren’t limited to Kenya. Digital finance has taken off in countries as diverse as Bangladesh, whereBKash [development] serves 8m registered users with payments and remittances through a network of 76,000 agents, and Pakistan, whereEasyPaisa, the third largest mobile money deployment in the world, reaches 7.4m users. Chidi Okpala, director and head of Airtel Money – Africa, a mobile money service with an active base of 5m customers,sees mobile financial services “tapping in” to other areas like healthcare, agriculture, and education.