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19.02.2009 Business & Finance

$12.5m For Mobile Banking

By Daily Guide
$12.5m For Mobile Banking

Bill Gate, Microsoft (CEO) MEGA billionaire and founder of Microsoft Inc, Bill Gates, yesterday announced a donation of $12.5 million to the Global System of Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) to enable its members develop services that will allow persons who have no or limited access to banks to have financial services.

Also, from 2012, all handsets will come with uniform charging solutions (UCS).

Gates made the donation on behalf of Bill and Belinda Gates Foundation, a non-profit body with major interest in helping the poor.

The programme will expand the availability of financial services to millions of people in the developing world through mobile phones.

The Mobile Money for the Unbanked (MMU) programme will work with mobile operators, banks, microfinance institutions, government and development organisations to encourage the expansion of reliable, affordable mobile financial services to the unbanked.

This was one of the highlights of yesterday's proceedings at the ongoing Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

"There are over one billion people in emerging markets today who don't have a bank account but do have a mobile phone," said Rob Conway, CEO and Member of the Board of the GSMA.

"This represents a huge opportunity and mobile operators are perfectly placed to bring mobile financial services to this largely untapped consumer base. Based on the initial findings of research conducted with the microfinance centre and McKinsey & Company, we believe that mobile money for the unbanked has the potential to become a $5 billion market opportunity over the next three years."

The MMU programme will fund regulatory and market research to help overcome some of the barriers of providing these services and demonstrate the business case for serving this market.The programme includes a $5 million fund to catalyse a new wave of mobile money innovation, encouraging mobile network operators to create new services for previously unbanked people in emerging markets.

The MMU programme will support approximately 20 projects in developing countries, focusing on Africa, Asia and Latin America, with the goal of reaching 20 million previously unbanked people with mobile financial services by 2012.

"Traditional financial services are often too costly and inconvenient for people who earn less than $2 a day to obtain, and too expensive for banks to provide," said Bob Christen, director of the Financial Services for the Poor initiative at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

"Technology like mobile phones is making it possible to bring low-cost, high-quality financial services to millions of people in the developing world so they can manage life's risks and build financial security," he added.

And beginning from January 2012, new handsets from all mobile phone handsets manufacturers will come with uniform charging solutions (UCS).

This is part of the initiative to make the proposed Open Mobile Terminal Platform (OMTP) work across the globe.

The common format for mobile phone charger solution was also announced yesterday at the ongoing GSMA, the global industry trade group for 750 mobile operators, 200 equipment manufacturers from 219 countries.

Test runs for the solutions begin middle of 2010 and have already been endorsed by no fewer than 17 of the world's handset and chip manufacturers attending the congress in Barcelona.

The manufactures said they were committed to implementing a cross-industry standard for a universal charger for new mobile phones. The aim of the initiative, led by the GSMA, is to ensure that the mobile industry adopts a common format for mobile phone charger connections and energy-efficient chargers resulting in an estimated 50 percent reduction in standby energy consumption, the potential elimination of up to 51,000 tonnes of duplicate chargers and the enhancement of the customer experience by simplifying the charging of mobile phones.

Conway announced this at a crowded press conference, saying the group had set an ambitious target that by 2012 a universal charging solution (UCS) would be widely available in the market world-wide and would use Micro-USB as the common universal charging interface.

The group agreed that by the January 1, 2012, the majority of all new mobile phone models available would support a universal charging connector and the majority of chargers shipped would meet the high efficiency targets set out by the OMTP (Open Mobile Terminal Platform), the industry body which developed the technical requirements behind UCS.

From Business Desk