The interest in mobile banking in developing countries has seen an exponential increase in recent years.
Why? Because, especially among African nations, it represents perhaps the perfect business opportunity – the confluence of the ubiquity of mobile phone subscribers and the fact that many yet do not own bank accounts. That notwithstanding, there’s the increasing need for financial transactions to occur in a secure, real-time and low-cost fashion.
To this end, the GSM Association and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are working together under the Mobile Money for the Unbanked (MMU) Program to “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”.
I think once such a business case is made to banking regulators, the process of approval for mobile service providers to provide these services may be hastened because they won’t feel like they’re groping in the dark in this new policy area.
Once the regulatory hurdles are surmounted, the onus will be on mobile network operators to provide value-added services and focus on service delivery.