The cost of maintaining bank accounts, compared to the cost of maintaining a prepaid balance, especially when the potentially reduced regulatory burden is taken into account, surely mitigates against trying to provide full service banking to some of the poorest people in the world. By contrast, using the mobile phone to provide enhanced payment services looks better and better. The possession of a mobile integrates people into the economy but without a payment service their participation is constrained. Put the two together and surely we get 90% of the way forward. Even in developed countries, there are a great many people who don’t need any kind of full-service banking or even a current account (eg, my son). But here’s what I don’t get: my son’s new current account provides a debit card, free ATM withdrawals and pays interest on the balance. And it’s free. By comparison, a basic pre-paid “debit” card has an initiation fee, monthly fees, load fees and ATM fees. Why? And why, when I looked into getting a basic pre-paid card, did it involve sending photocopies of passports and various other things I couldn’t be bothered with. (Rhetorical question: KYC and AML legislation).
These opinions are my own (I think) and presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]