The report is about Wizzit, which is a mobile banking provider that offers a transaction banking account accessible via mobile phone and debit card. It has about 50,000 customers for its “virtual bank” (there are no branches). Customers can use their mobile phone to make person-to-person payments, transfer money, purchase prepaid electricity, and buy airtime for a prepaid mobile phone subscription. WIZZIT also gives customers a Maestro-branded debit card with which they can make purchases and get cash back at retail outlets and withdraw cash at ATMs. What comes out from the survey of their customers is that banking by mobile phone is not only easier but also cheaper than using a normal bank (with branches and such like).
I thought the most interesting calculation in the report is that of banking fees as a proportion of annual income (these are poor people, remember). It turns out to be around 3% of income for customers using a “conventional” bank and 2% of income for customers using mobile phone banking. By extension, I would imagine that this is true for the majority of the world’s population. The report’s conclusion is very positive:
Ultimately, all poor people need financial services to increase household incomes, build assets, and become less vulnerable to crises. With millions of mobile phones already in poor peoples hands, CGAP, UNF, and VGF see tremendous potential in the power of network operators, banks, and new entrants to deliver financial services through this channel.
Quite. There will be four billion mobile phones in use in 2010 and for (literally) the average inhabitant of the planet the mobile will be their most important channel to money and financial services. This is why SIM Toolkit, NFC and OTA are more important indicators of the future of digital money than web 2.0, High-Integrity Certificates or perhaps even EMV.
My opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public.
[posted with ecto]