$2.5 Million Prize for Transforming Banking Sector in Haiti
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
SEATTLE and PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Jan. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), announced today that Haitian mobile operator Digicel won a $2.5 million award from the Haiti Mobile Money Initiative (HMMI). Digicel was recognized for being the first to launch a mobile money service in Haiti, Tcho Tcho Mobile, that meets the competition’s stringent criteria. This award, presented to Digicel and its partner Scotia Bank at a U.S. Embassy event in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is the first from HMMI, a $10 million incentive fund to jumpstart the introduction of mobile money for the Haitian people.
The devastating earthquake in January 2010 destroyed one-third of Haiti’s bank branches, further limiting access to financial systems that served only 10 percent of Haiti’s population before the earthquake. The HMMI, a partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID, was established to help launch mobile money services in Haiti and enable Haitians to send, receive and store money using their mobile phones. It also lays the foundation for advanced banking services that could help millions of Haitians lift themselves out of extreme poverty.
Digicel’s mobile money service enables customers to use their mobile phones to make deposits and withdrawals at retail outlets, and transfer money between Tcho Tcho accounts. In addition to its current services, other mobile banking services will eventually include bill payments, payment for government services and international remittance transfers.