Viewpoint: Mobile Money’s Potential is Unfulfilled
Thursday, February 9, 2017
The mobile phone is a central component to unlocking access for the billions of people still excluded from the mainstream of financial services. Its potential is widely understood. But while use of entry-level smartphones has accelerated, access to mobile money services and use of these services remain challenging in many markets.
The unmet potential of mobile money is evident with more than 2-billion people in developing countries lacking viable alternatives to the cash economy. In Africa, more than 326-million adults remain unbanked. The challenges are geographical, political, regulatory, social and economic. For a digital financial services ecosystem to work effectively, all these elements must operate in unison for it to make the impact its potential suggests. It could be a key driver in unlocking productivity, investment and accelerating economic growth.
A recent McKinsey report, Digital Finance for All, concluded that in the next decade, digital finance has the potential to provide access to financial services for 1.6-billion people in emerging economies, more than half of whom could be women.
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) focus group on digital finance services has been examining these challenges. Over the past two years it has been working to develop practical policy recommendations and guidelines that global regulators can use to accelerate the penetration of digital financial services, based on international best practice.