GSMA announces seven new grant recipients from the Mobile Money for the Unbanked Programme

Date: Tue, 06/01/2010 - 13:07

The GSMA announced the details of a further seven grantees from the Mobile Money for the Unbanked (MMU) Fund, which is administered by the GSMA Foundation, Inc., with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

GSMA announces seven new grant recipients from the Mobile Money for the Unbanked Programme

New grantees are Cellcard in Cambodia, Digicel in Fiji, Orange in West Africa, Safaricom in Kenya, Tata Indicom in India, Telenor in Pakistan, and Tigo in Africa. “Just 15 months after we first announced the launch of the Mobile Money for the Unbanked Programme we are proud to announce that all funds have been committed in support of mobile money deployments across the globe,” said Gavin Krugel, Director GSMA. “Projects were chosen on their ability to deliver, speed of delivery, scale and sophistication. Between now and the end of 2011 millions of consumers are expected to directly benefit from mobile money services launched with the support of the Fund – that is 170 million customers at the base of the economic pyramid and who previously lacked access to financial services, from 19 operators in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.”
New Grantees:
Cambodia has a population of over 14.5 million, 22 per cent of whom live in urban areas, but less than 4 percent of the population has a bank account.  In addition to this, the majority of payroll is given in cash and therefore Cellcard will be providing much needed financial services such as money transfer, bill payment and airtime top-up to working-class migrants who need to send money home to families in rural areas.
The objective of the grant to Digicel Fiji is to support the launch of a low-cost mobile wallet product which will allow Fijians better and easier access to commercial transactions and which can be delivered through Digicel’s existing distributor network. The pilot will launch remittance, top-up and bill payment services with the aim of extending to a full financial services offering following commercial launch. 
Less than four per cent of the population of Western Africa (Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Mali) are banked, but over a third owns a mobile phone, and this number is growing 30 per cent each year. Orange is studying customer needs in each market, with the intention of building on existing mobile money services (Orange Money is already available in Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Madagascar) by introducing more advanced financial services.
Safaricom is using M-PESA, one of the world’s most successful mobile money platforms, to facilitate social transfer payments from Non-Governmental Organisations NGOs and the Kenyan government to vulnerable households in informal settlements in Nairobi.
Tata Teleservices is working with its technology partner mChek to target microfinance customers in rural India and particularly the large numbers of dairy, contract and agricultural workers. There are over 550 million mobile connections in India with year-on-year growth of 49 per cent, and research has shown that there are 91 million households who are currently financially excluded. mChek’s research has shown a clear need for cash management and money transfer services among customers who are not currently served by traditional banking services.
Easypaisa is an existing mobile money service successfully offered by Telenor Pakistan which brings financial services to the unbanked of Pakistan. With help from the MMU Fund grant, Telenor Pakistan is working to develop a sophisticated savings/insurance product which can be offered on top of the Easypaisa platform.
Finally Tigo is experimenting with innovative distribution channels for a new mobile money platform in one of its African markets.
Update of Grantee Progress:
Through grants from the MMU Fund, 11 projects have already begun offering innovative services and are developing the next generation of services to be offered on mobile money platforms, including social transfer payments, microinsurance and microfinance including savings products. In the course of the last year many of the grantees are already making a difference to their customers including:
- Bangladesh’s Grameenphone is working to enhance its mobile money service offerings (which were originally limited to bill payment) with, for example, a mobile ticketing service for Bangladesh Railways
- Dialog is expanding its mobile money offering into the northern provinces of Sri Lanka, which were, until last year’s settlement, wracked by war
- MTN Uganda has appointed hundreds of field registration agents to educate users about mobile money and to sign them up on the spot, a strategy that has to date generated 750,000 registrations
- Roshan’s M-Paisa has developed and delivered training for agents on how to sign up and serve M-Paisa customers; it has also run a large-scale marketing campaign to educate customers about the M-Paisa service
- In its Island Activation Project, SMART is extending the reach of SMART Money to remote islands that have limited access to financial services and are not priority areas for traditional financial institutions by partnering with MFIs and cooperatives
- Vodacom Tanzania is piloting an innovative approach to the common problem of agent liquidity: extending credit to master agents.
The MMU works with mobile operators, banks, microfinance institutions, government and development organizations to encourage the expansion of reliable and affordable mobile financial services to the unbanked. The MMU Fund exists to accelerate mobile money deployments which target base of the pyramid customers who are unbanked. Although the full original value of the MMU Fund has been allocated, the MMU is still accepting applications from operators around the world for initiatives which are exceptional in terms of scale or sophistication.

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