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GSMA announces first four Mobile Money for the Unbanked grants

The GSMA is one step closer to achieving its goal of financial security for 20 million unbanked by 2012: four operators have received grants under the Mobile Money for the Unbanked scheme...

The GSMA has revealed details of the first four recipients of grants from the Mobile Money for the Unbanked Fund (MMU), which is administered by the GSMA Foundation with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The first operators who will receive grants are geographically diverse and comprise Axis in Indonesia, Oi in Brazil, Roshan in Afghanistan and Smart Communications in the Philippines.

The Axis mDuit project is a greenfield deployment in Indonesia and is due to launch in December. Axis has a significant opportunity to bank the unbanked via mobile in Indonesia as only 40 million of the country’s total population have bank accounts, whereas 90 million have mobile phone subscriptions. Axis will offer a range of services to consumers via mobile, including payments, savings and credit.

In the proposed service, Brazilian operator Oi intends to provide individuals living in low income and remote communities access to basic banking services and encourage development. The proposed service will allow individuals to receive welfare funds, make domestic remittances and buy products at participating merchants' stores. A cash-out option is also being considered.

Building a distribution network that has the ability to grow and manage customers in a country at war is the main focus of Afghanistan operator Roshan. Currently 97% of Afghans are unable to access traditional banking services as 76% of Afghans reside outside major urban centres. M-Paisa will provide mobile money services to rural entrepreneurs, women, public and private institutions, and those in extreme poverty.

Smart Communications’ Island Activations Programme in the Philippines will benefit those on remote islands or inland locations who are isolated or have no or limited access to financial services and limited electricity. Smart aims to build remote economies through reaching the underbanked and unbanked, so enabling customers to send and receive domestic remittances, re-load e-wallets, pay bills or send money via the Smart Money Platform.

The MMU programme is supported by a US$12.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and works with mobile operators, banks, micro-finance institutions, government and development organisations to encourage the expansion of reliable, affordable mobile financial services to the unbanked. The MMU Fund exists to accelerate mobile money deployments which target base of the pyramid consumers who are unbanked and is considering applications from operators around the world.
“The scope of these projects is hugely exciting as they will not only provide mobile money services to the unbanked, but will also have the ability to enhance the way whole communities live and carry out business by helping them achieve stability, economic growth and fostering entrepreneurial opportunities,” said Gavin Krugel, Director, GSMA. “I am delighted to be working with these and other pioneering companies as we continue to strive to build financial security and an identity for the most disadvantaged in our society and work towards our goal of reaching 20 million unbanked people with mobile services by 2012.”
* The GSMA represents the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry. Spanning 219 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators, as well as more than 200 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers, Internet companies, and media and entertainment organisations. The GSMA is focused on innovating, incubating and creating new opportunities for its membership, all with the end goal of driving the growth of the mobile communications industry.
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