The bank of SMS
Friday, May 11, 2012
AFRICA is the continent where “mobile money”—monetary transactions on mobile phones—is by far the most advanced. According to a new survey of financial habits by the Gates Foundation, the World Bank and Gallup, in 20 countries more than 10% of adults said that they had used mobile money at some point in the previous 12 months; 15 of those countries were in Africa. For the most part, mobile phones are a substitute for traditional banks, enabling people who live miles from a branch or ATM to use financial services. This is especially important in a country like Somalia, which lacks a functioning government but where 34% of adults use mobile money (often to receive remittances from family members abroad). But sometimes, mobile banking seems to go hand in hand with the spread of traditional banking. In Kenya, where a staggering 68% of adults use mobile money (by far the highest rate in the world), half also have paper-based bank accounts.