mobile banking

M-Banking, Mali-Style

Posted by BrettMeyer on Aug 15, 2007

In the West African nation of Mali, back street vendors power the mobile phone market. The major players -- Ikatel, a division of France Telecom, along with the homegrown Malitel -- have official stores, but most of their sales come from the street. In West Africa, subscription service is rare. Instead, mobile phone users purchase plastic-wrapped cards of varying denominations, scratch off a silvery bar much like those found on an instant lottery ticket, and recharge their phones with the code hidden underneath. These cards can be purchased from tin-roofed convenience shacks, egg sandwich vendors, or random men walking down the street, stacks of soccer jerseys slung over their shoulders.


Mobile Banking in the Global South - Revolutionary Economic Change?

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Jan 21, 2007

mobile banking phoneMobile banking is taking off, with the potential to change entire economies where the majority of people currently are currently "unbanked," as the term goes. There have been been several very interesting reports and articles recently on the topic.  On the Foreign Policy blog, World bank consultant Christine Bowers writes about the enormous  economic implications that mobile banking has for the world's poorest:

It's not yet mPesa: mKesh, Mobile Money in Mozambique Is Slow To Take Off

Posted by on Nov 18, 2011

Editor's Note: This guest post is by Janet Gunter, a anthropologist and blogger, an ex-“aid worker” interested in communication, technology, and new economies. She is currently working as an adviser at @Verdade newspaper in Maputo, Mozambique. 

Mobile money arrived in Mozambique earlier this year, after the larger of the two mobile operators, the state-owned mcel, rolled out a service called mKesh (close in pronunciation to mCash). mKesh “soft launched” the service in 2009, but has intensified its efforts this year, with an official launch in September. The service now claims to have 41,000 registered customers and 2,700 agents across the country.

So far, however, the story of mobile money in Mozambique is a cautionary tale which provides clues about the adaptability of the lauded operator-led model.

Like with mPesa, Kenya’s Safaricom-led service, mcel’s 4 million plus subscribers can use the service, creating a “mobile wallet” which is designed to be used to collect cash from participating agents and make payments. 

It's not yet mPesa: mKesh, Mobile Money in Mozambique Is Slow To Take Off data sheet 1512 Views
Countries: Mozambique

Branchless Banking 2010: Who Is Served? At What Price? What Is Next?

Posted by kelechiea on Jul 12, 2011
Branchless Banking 2010: Who Is Served? At What Price? What Is Next? data sheet 1593 Views
Claudia McKay, Mark Pickens
Publication Date: 
Sep 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Excitement around branchless banking is rapidly turning into action by the private sector. Of the 79 live mobile money deployments tracked by the GSM Association (GSMA), two-thirds have launched in 2009 and 2010. Nokia and Paypal are investing in mobile payment platforms available to any client regardless of his or her mobile network or bank, a development that could shake up markets. And early branchless banking leaders are launching out in new directions. Brazilian banks are increasingly eager to use agents equipped with point-of-sale (POS) devices to originate loans. In Kenya, Safaricom has teamed up with Equity Bank, the country’s largest bank, to offer M-Kesho, a service that uses M-PESA’s mobile payments platform to offer a full range of Equity’s bank products.

Will these sizeable investments pay off? Many in the private sector believe reaching large numbers of mass market clients is a precondition to large-scale profits, but at the same time, they are uncertain about how quickly branchless banking will gain traction with the unbanked, low-income clients who make up the mass market. In other words, the prospects of branchless banking are still unclear.


Branchless Banking 2010: Who’s Served? At What Price? What’s Next?

Posted by VivianOnano on Jul 01, 2011
Branchless Banking 2010: Who’s Served? At What Price? What’s Next? data sheet 1810 Views
McKay, Claudia; Picken, Mark
Publication Date: 
Sep 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

This Focus Note evaluates the evidence from 18 branchless banking providers with a collective total of more than 50 million customers (see Table 1) to answer three questions: 

  • Does branchless banking reach large numbers of low-income and unbanked clients?
  • Are prices for branchless banking lower than prices for traditional banking for the kinds of transactions low-income and unbanked people want to do?
  • What other services do these customers want from branchless banking? 

The answers to these questions have implications for the business case, customers, and those who hope that branchless banking can boost financial inclusion. 

The data offer some answers. On the question of scale, branchless banking  can reach large numbers of the unbanked relatively quickly. CGAP looked at the outreach of eight providers globally for which good data were available by drawing on 13 studies that surveyed 16,708 branchless banking clients. The eight providers average 3.73 million active registered users, of which 37 percent or 1.39 million were previously unbanked.Five of the providers reach more previously unbanked clients than the largest microfinance institution (MFI) in the provider’s country—on average, 79 percent more. 

These five branchless banking providers grew quickly, surpassing the largest MFI in number of customers within three years. This is not to suggest branchless banking is replacing or eclipsing MFIs. The services branchless banking typically provides (payments) are complimentary to MFI microloans: both meet a widespread need for which clients are willing to pay.


Financial Education: A Bridge Between Branchless Banking and Low-Income Clients

Posted by Juliel on Jun 27, 2011
Financial Education: A Bridge Between Branchless Banking and Low-Income Clients data sheet 1020 Views
Cohen, Monique, Danielle Hopkins and Julie Lee
Publication Date: 
Aug 2008

This paper examines the rapid evolution of branchless banking technologies and development of financial education as a tool to help low-income households better manage their money.

While focusing on getting delivery systems right, promoters of branchless banking often lose sight of the consumer. Despite recent enthusiasm regarding these new banking services, uptake and usage has been limited, and often does not include many of the poor. Reasons for lower usage rates among low-income populations include:

  • Lack of familiarity with banking services;
  • Limited trust in new financial delivery systems;
  • Lack of understanding and experience using the technologies.

However, low-income households are willing to cross the digital divide and conduct their financial transactions through branchless banking. Higher usage is possible, but will require financial education to facilitate this process. This can be delivered through a variety of channels, such as radio, print media and class room training.

Finally, the paper presents a case study from Malawi which demonstrates the viability of branchless banking when potential clients have proper knowledge of how to use it and stresses that well-conceived financial education programs will achieve this aim.

Study on Potentials of Mobile Phones in Investment and Development Projects

Posted by VivianOnano on Jun 09, 2011
Study on Potentials of Mobile Phones in Investment and Development Projects data sheet 1421 Views
Poate, Derek
Publication Date: 
Dec 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

This report draws on the experiences of projects using mobile phone-based information and communication technologies (ICT) applications in a number of situations, including mobile monitoring and evaluation, m-banking, community development, literacy, anti-corruption, agricultural extension and agricultural value chain information and access.

The report begins with a general overview of the role that mobile phone-based ICT can play in development and commercial projects, focusing on the situations in which mobile phonebased applications are particularly appropriate, on the potential impacts that they can achieve and on their comparative advantages vis-a-vis other forms of mobile ICT.

The report then considers in more detail the experience of the projects in using mobile phone-based ICT, shedding light on such issues as the appropriateness and relevance of the systems used, their replicability and scalability and their sustainability.


Making Mobile Phones Work for Women with Fistula: The M-PESA Experience in Kenya and Tanzania

Posted by VivianOnano on Jun 06, 2011
Making Mobile Phones Work for Women with Fistula: The M-PESA Experience in Kenya and Tanzania data sheet 1364 Views
USAID and Fistula Care
Publication Date: 
Jan 2011
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

The Freedom from Fistula Foundation (FFF) in Kenya and Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT) have taken great strides in reducing these barriers. Using a combination of mobile banking, public information, and free treatment, they have helped make fistula repair a reality for women who were previously excluded from care.

Amplifying the Impact: Examining the Intersection of Mobile Health and Mobile Finance

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Feb 21, 2011
Amplifying the Impact: Examining the Intersection of Mobile Health and Mobile Finance data sheet 1661 Views
Gencer, Menekse
Publication Date: 
Jan 2011
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Both mHealth and MFS (Mobile Financial Services) are nascent industries and fragmented along multiple dimensions. The aim of this paper is to help reduce some of these uncertainties and reinforce dialogue on how the mobile communications platform can be leveraged to strengthen mutually positive outcomes related to both financial inclusion and health. With user-centric solutions that leverage common technologies, new efficiencies and capabilities can be created that serve to accelerate global scale.

Unlocking this potential will require the following questions to be addressed: 1. What will be the best method to drive awareness and adoption of the self-reinforcing dynamics of “wealth and health”? Who will lead these efforts? 2. How will the integration and interoperability of disparate technologies across multiple industry and public sector domains occur? 3. Who will build and manage the common infrastructure and distribution networks? 4. How will the various points of policy coordination work across sector domains?

The Mobile Money Movement: Catalyst to Jumpstart Emerging Markets

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Jan 28, 2011
The Mobile Money Movement: Catalyst to Jumpstart Emerging Markets data sheet 1006 Views
Gencer, Menekse
Publication Date: 
Jan 2011
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

There is something profound taking place in emerging markets with mobile money movement... it is now a “Mobile Money Movement” with the potential to substantially alter the economic paths of the poor and emerging economies at large. For this reason private and public sectors alike are now taking notice of this industry. Mobile finance is becoming an increasingly important topic for The World Economic Forum and for the G20 summit. Nearly 2/3 of the world’s population lives in poverty: four billion people live on less than $8.00 USD per day. Most do not have bank accounts, but do have mobile phones (1.7 billion people by 2012.)

Mobile money provides an opportunity for financial inclusion to the unbanked base of the economic pyramid - the majority of the global population who has lived in the informal financial sector and who has relied on cash to conduct all financial transactions. As such, they lack access to credit, insurance, and savings. This wave of mobile money momentum, if not slowed down by other challenges inherent in these markets, will undoubtedly positively impact the course of economic growth in emerging markets for a number of reasons that are inherent within mobile money itself.

Mobile money will spur economic growth in emerging markets because of the forces inherent to mobile money itself. Specifically, these forces include:
1. the ubiquity of data transmission that mobile provides;
2. mobile money as a new industry;
3. mobile money as an infrastructure supporting new businesses and other industries;
4. the infusion of new capital from the informal sector; and
5. the efficiency gains that digitization of money enables.

A New Mobile Money Toolkit

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on Jan 19, 2011

At, we’ve written about initiatives and research in the field of mobile money and mobile banking. It's a burgeoning industry and there is no shortage of relevant projects, services, and advances. Which is why we’re interested in the Mobile Money Toolkit from the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group.

We caught up with Margarete O. Biallas of the IFC to learn more about the toolkit and how it can be used by our readers.

Q: Who would be interested in using the Mobile Money Toolkit?

A: Anyone engaged in providing electronic banking services using mobile technology.

Mobile 2.0: M-money for the BoP in the Philippines

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Jan 13, 2011
Mobile 2.0: M-money for the BoP in the Philippines data sheet 1281 Views
Alampay, Erwin and Gemma Bala
Publication Date: 
Dec 2010
Publication Type: 
Journal article

This paper explores the reach and use of m-money among the bottom of the pyramid (BoP) in the Philippines using survey data from LIRNEasia’s 2008 Mobile 2.0 surveys. It looks at m-money’s potential and actual use for remittance among internal and external migrant workers and their families. The results are triangulated with focus group data and literature on mobile and electronic money, and framed using Van Dijk’s (2006) Stages of Access to digital technologies.

Although usage of m-money among the BoP remains low, the ICT infrastructure for this is in place. Compared to other Asian countries where the survey was also conducted, Filipinos are more familiar and have higher trust in mobile electronic transactions. Managing their resistance to change from current offline remitting practices remains a challenge.

The Mobile Minute: 4G Networks in Africa, Mobile Marketing in Europe, and Rigged Bandwidth Auctions in India

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Nov 18, 2010

Today's Mobile Minute brings you news about the six organizations that won social networking grants from infoDev, the way mobile advertising is used in Europe, the launch of 4G networks in Africa, accusations of rigging in India's bandwidth auctions, and a CGAP series that de-hypes mobile banking with actual data.

  • InfoDev announced the winners of its social networking grants for organizations working in Africa and Asia. The winners were Akirachix (Kenya), MoMo Kampala (Uganda), COSTECH (Tanzania), Mobile Monday (Mozambique), CRC Topica (Vietnam), and Young Innovations Pvt. Ltd. (Nepal). The winners received $35,000 U.S. as part of the Creating Sustainable Businesses in the Knowledge Economy program.

The Mobile Minute: 90% of the World Has Access to Mobile Networks, Mobile Banking in the Philippines, and more

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Oct 28, 2010

The Mobile Minute has info on social networking via mobiles, interactive mobile lesson plans in South Africa, a new ITU study that estimates more than 90% of the world's population has access to mobile networks, the Red Cross' work to battle a cholera outbreak in Haiti with SMS health updates, and the launch of a mobile money transfer pilot in the Philippines. 

The Mobile Minute: Mobile Banking Ban Looms in Somalia, U.S. Teen Texting Habits Increase, and Mobile Web Use Grows Worldwide

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Oct 22, 2010

In today's Mobile Minute: The UN released a report on mobile penetration around the world and how mobiles can be used to fight poverty, Business Insider charted U.S. texting habits by age group, an Islamist group in Somalia banned mobile money transfers, Zimbabwe's first mobile money program prepares to launch, and the research group Akamai released data on the growth of the mobile web around the world. 

Drop by Drop Gets the Pump: KickStart’s Mobile Layaway Service for Small-Scale Farmers

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on Oct 06, 2010
Drop by Drop Gets the Pump: KickStart’s Mobile Layaway Service for Small-Scale Farmers data sheet 6194 Views

Update: In July 2011, KickStart reached a milestone by registering its 100th mobile layaway customer. (When we last chatted with Chen, KickStart had 9 such customers.) The group is preparing to launch the service across Kenya next month.

Basic Information
Organization involved in the project?: 
Project goals: 

The goal of the KickStart mobile layaway service is to provide a safe, secure, and convenient savings mechanism for small-scale farmers to put away money for an irrigation pump.

Brief description of the project: 

The mobile layaway service allows small-scale farmers to make incremental payments over a mobile phone by leveraging M-PESA, a mobile banking platform that is popular in Kenya and elsewhere. Farmers work toward the purchase of KickStart irrigation pumps.

Target audience: 

The target audience of the KickStart mobile layaway service is small-scale famers who wish to purchase an irrigation pump but have difficulty in gathering the total purchase cost at one time. Farmers must also have access to a mobile phone and be registered M-PESA users.


Detailed Information
Length of Project (in months) : 
What worked well? : 

The mobile layaway service is successful in it’s approach: it offers a formalized service by building upon something done informally and it leverages a trusted brand that users have access to and are comfortable with.

What did not work? What were the challenges?: 

Though the USB modem and text message interface alleviates the need to administer data via a handset, the process still requires significant manual input. For the pilot, received payments come in automatically from the M-PESA admin tool, but on the back-end, an Excel spreadsheet is used to track customers and payments.

Branchless Banking Pricing Analysis

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Oct 06, 2010
Branchless Banking Pricing Analysis data sheet 2285 Views
Claudia McKay, Mark Pickens
Publication Date: 
May 2010
Publication Type: 

In this comprehensive analysis, CGAP assessed whether branchless banking or mobile money services are more cost effective or cheaper for low income people than formal banking. The authors, McKay and Pickens, compared pricing of 16 leading branchless banking services across eight ways that customers use branchless banking. They subsequently compared the pricing of these services against 10 formal banks and other informal money transfers options.

The eight use cases refer to: 1) sending money transfer, 2) receiving money transfer, 3)short-term safekeeping, 4) medium term savings, 5) bill payments, 6) high usage, 7) m-PESA customer, and 8) kenya bank customer.

The results say that branchless banking is 19% cheaper than banks, and have a lower transaction value. Additionally, branchless banking is 54% cheaper than informal options formoney transfer.They also discuss in detail how pricing influences customer usage.


Mobile Banking: Overview of Regulatory Framework in Emerging Markets

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Mar 12, 2010
Mobile Banking: Overview of Regulatory Framework in Emerging Markets data sheet 3894 Views
Rasheda Sultana
Publication Date: 
Dec 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Across developing countries, millions of people rely on informal economic activity and local level networks to earn their living. Most of these populations are from bottom of pyramid and they don’t have access to basic financial services/banks as access to them is costly and very limited. However, the outstanding growth of mobile sector worldwide has created a unique opportunity to provide social and financial services over the mobile network. With over 4 billion mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide, mobile network has the ability to immediately offer mobile banking to 61% of the world population. A study states the biggest share of mobile payment users will be in the Asia/Pacific region by 2012 (Gartner, 2008). In the context of being the most promising ICT market and the largest inbound remittance receiver, this region is expected to be the hub of m-banking transactions. 

The paper starts with an overview of existing models of m-banking and then examines the m-banking regulations in some South Asian countries and of the countries where (e.g. the Philippines, Kenya, South Africa) m-baking/payment systems are already in practice or a success. The concerns of financial regulators and policy measures taken so far are discussed.

The key questions this paper aims to answer:

⇒ What are the practiced models of m-banking/payment systems? 

⇒ What concerns are generally raised by financial regulators?  

⇒ Which m-banking/payment models have drafted or enacted in South Asia?  

⇒ Which m-banking/payment models have are enacted in the countries where it is a success?

⇒ What constitutes a proportionate regulatory approach?  

The answers to the above questions helps to identify a way forward which can expedite adoption of m-banking/ payments service in South Asia successfully and quickly.  



Developing Mobile Money Ecosystems

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Oct 22, 2009
Developing Mobile Money Ecosystems data sheet 1392 Views
Beth Jenkins
Publication Date: 
Jan 2008
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

The paper gives an overview of the players in mobile payment schemes and their respective roles in advancing mobile payment and banking in developing countries.

id21 insights 69 l September 2007: Research findings for development policymakers and practitioners id21 insights

Posted by LeighJaschke on Jul 14, 2009
id21 insights 69 l September 2007: Research findings for development policymakers and practitioners id21 insights data sheet 2735 Views
Donner , Jonathan
Publication Date: 
Sep 2007
Publication Type: 
Magazine or newspaper article

id21 insights is published 10 times a year and is online at Readers
may copy or quote from any article, providing the source (id21 insights) and author are
and informed. To subscribe, email with your name and
address. id21’s website,, offers free access to over 4,000 research highlights
on development policy issues including health, natural resources, education and more. This issue focuses on micro-entrepreneurs in Nigeria, mobile ladies in Bangladesh, unequal gender relations in Zambia, getting beyond the three billion mark, mobile banking and poor households in Jamaica.

M-Banking and M-Payments for Social Impact

Posted by sharakarasic on Oct 28, 2008

On the first day of MobileActive ’08 in Johannesburg, I attended "M-Banking and M-Payments for Social Impact", with Jonathan Donner, Tonny Omwansa, Jesse Moore, Brian Richardson, and Alex Comninos presenting to a packed room. The session gave an overview of m-banking (mobile banking) and m-payments (mobile payments), including specific mobile banking solutions such as M-PESA and Wizzit.

Brian Richardson, the CEO of Wizzit, began by stressing that mobile banking is becoming more and more common in African countries. In South Africa, more than 11 million people live with cash only. 600 million in Africa don’t have access to basic financial services because of affordability, accessibility, and availability. Without access to basic financial services, it’s hard to be an economic citizen.

Is Mobile Banking Really Reducing Poverty? Not Yet, We Argue

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Oct 25, 2008

This article, in a slightly revised version, was published by Orascom's TALK Magazine, Fall 2008.
There has been much talk of late about mobile financial services as a way to lift millions of people worldwide out of poverty. A recent article in The Guardian called mobile banking in developing countries “potentially revolutionary.” The advent of mobile financial services promises to bring many more poor people into an economic mainstream where safer and less costly financial services (such as person-to-person payments and remittances) are delivered over the cell phone. But is this promise anywhere near reality?
Transferring money via mobile phones can save days of travel for workers in cities who send money home to families in rural villages. Mobile payments are also often cheaper and more secure than relying on informal brokers or carrying cash personally, and they have the potential to change markets by making small business-to-business transactions immediate and more reliable.

New Institute for Money, Technology, and Financial Inclusion Funded by Gates Foundation

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Sep 24, 2008

More news on mobile banking for the world's poorest.  The University of California, Irvine has announced a $1.7 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a research institute focused on the growing use of mobile technology in providing banking and financial services to individuals in developing countries.

A Mobile Banking Call to Action

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Sep 24, 2008


Bill Clinton is announcing the commitment from a group of members of the Clinton Global Initiative to provide access to financial services to millions of people currently unbanked and living under $2 a day. Some of the people on the stage are Elizabeth Littlefield from CGAP, Dawn Haig Thomas from the GSMA Development Fund, and the Sosas from MPower Ventures, Brian Richardson from Wizzit, and others who are committing more than $100 million to mobile fincancial services for the poor.  


Nigeria is Mobile: A Book Review

Posted by CorinneRamey on Feb 29, 2008

The brightly-colored umbrellas of mobile phone vendors, selling top-up airtime and the use of mobile phones for calls, dot the landscape of urban and rural Nigeria. However, says a new book on mobile phones in Nigeria, cell phones haven't just visually changed the landscape of Africa's most populous country, but have transformed the country economically, socially, and democratically as well.