Mobilizing Mobile Phones for Funds Transfer


An abstract of my paper "Banking in the Developing World":

There are at at least three projects in the poorer Asia, funded by international development agencies, running in parallel that relates to mobile phones for funds transfers. I shall call it MP4FT.

Why the intense interest despite that e-banking is nothing new? The novelty stems from an oft quoted statement that says there are more people having mobile phones than bank accounts. For example, in Vietnam, an optimistic estimate says that only 2 of 100 people have bank accounts. Whereas there are 33 of 100 people have mobile phones. That means there are roughly 30 million people having mobile phones and only 2 million having bank accounts. Therefore it is obvious that it is much more efficient to use mobile phones to transfer funds rather than using the banking system.

The UNDP Project in Pacific aims to translate IFC/ADB's research into action. If the plan works that means the Pacific island communities that high isolated will be connected with a e-financial system in the absence of banks and ATMs.

The ANZ Bank's WINGS Project in Cambodia, one of the Asia's poorest nations, launched the funds transfer services using the humble mobile phone. Effectively this service replaces the ATMs by withdrawing funds at mobile phone agents that are dotted throughout the nation. The electronic funds transfer system is reported to be sourced from Telkom Malaysia.

It is heard through the grapevine that an Indonesian microfinance bank is considering the same approach of transferring small amounts of money through the archipelago of 17,000 islands.