Indian Mobile Bank Eko Raises $5.5 Million Processing $270 Million
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Innovative mobile banking platform Eko India Financial Services has raised $5.5 million from Creation Investments’ Social Venture fund, Promus Equity Partners and several unnamed angel investors. Mobile banking is one of the most exciting trends in the tech world outside Silicon Valley. And now that more people have mobile phones than toilets in the world, there’s a real chance at bridging the unbanked gap.
Forget glitzy iPhone financial apps. The most innovative stuff is mobile payments is being done using basic SMS, and it’s dramatically changing people’s financial lives. Savings soar when your money isn’t readily available, people can safely travel between villages without fear of being robbed, and paying for goods and services no longer requires an in person transaction.
The coolest part of this trend: Much of the strides are being made by for profit companies, not aid groups and NGOs. They help millions of people and build self-sustaining businesses that make money doing it. One of Sequoia Capital’s hottest Indian investments was SKS Microfinance, which makes micro-loans along the lines of Grameen Bank and went public last year in an over-subscribed IPO. Two more of my favorites in India are Pune-based SMSOne, an SMS-based newsletter that delivers literally life-saving information to rural India, and VNL, which makes telecom services available to people for less than $2 a user, per month profitably.