Gates Foundation, GSMA Boost Mobile Banking in Developing World

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the GSM Association (GSMA) are collaborating to provide people in the developing world with bank access on their mobile phones. The two parties announced the project at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

According to Rob Conway, GSMA's CEO, more than 1 billion people in emerging markets own handsets but lack bank access. "This represents a huge opportunity, and mobile operators are perfectly placed to bring mobile financial services to this largely untapped consumer base," Conway said in a statement.

A $12.5 million grant from the Gates Foundation will fund the Mobile Money for the Unbanked (MMU) program, which will serve mobile users in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

"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, in a statement.

By 2012, the GSMA and the Gates Foundation hope to provide the service to 20 million who previously have lacked bank accounts.


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