GSMA And IDB To Drive Mobile Financial Services In Latin America

The GSMA, the global body for the mobile industry, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) have joined forces to accelerate the deployment in Latin America and the Caribbean of mobile financial services designed to meet the needs of the unbanked and the poor.

The IDB, the world’s largest regional development institution, funds economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The joint initiative will provide financial and technical support to mobile phone operators and partner banks for the implementation of up to five mobile financial services systems in different countries throughout the region.

To date, there has been little development and implementation of mobile financial services for the unbanked and poor in Latin America and the Caribbean, where more than 65% of the adult population do not have bank accounts. Mobile financial services in other parts of the world have proven to be a transformational technology, providing lower cost, better quality and more secure financial services to large numbers of the poor and unbanked.

“Working with the IDB will enhance our efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean to enable the many people in the region, who currently do not have banks accounts, to be able to use their mobile phones to access a full range of financial services, including fast, simple and cost-effective mobile money transfer services,” said Michael O’Hara, Chief Marketing Officer of the GSMA. “We expect that increased access to low-cost and secure financial services in developing countries will help improve the standard of living for many millions of people, by increasing economic opportunities and by lowering the cost of many activities.”

“The initiative with the GSMA is part of a larger IDB effort to increase access to financial services to the poor and the unbanked, in which mobile financial services will play an important role,” said Frank Nieder, the IDB’s project team leader. “The GSMA will be an especially effective partner as it brings extensive expertise and experience on how to promote and implement mobile financial services as well as close relationships with mobile network operators in the region, who generally have not worked with the IDB before.”

The joint initiative, which will be closely coordinated with the GSMA’s Mobile Money Transfer Program*, will take advantage of the GSMA’s work with technology vendors and computer systems designers to establish a hosted mobile wallet platform that will enable the mobile operators to pilot financial services. Several operators and financial institutions have already expressed a strong interest in participating.

The IDB will be responsible for the overall execution of the initiative, which will be financed in part by the Knowledge Partnership Korea Fund for Technology and Innovation.

Latin America, which receives $60 billion in international remittances each year, would benefit greatly from the availability of services that enable individuals to use their mobile phones to manage money. Eight of the 34 mobile operators participating in the GSMA’s Mobile Money Transfer programme have operations in Latin America. Several other Latin American operators have also expressed an interest in joining the Mobile Money Transfer initiative.

Notes to Editors

*The Mobile Money Transfer programme stimulates the development, trials and commercialisation of mobile remittance services to enable the world’s 200 million international migrant workers to easily send remittances to their dependents, many of whom don’t have bank accounts. By exploiting the extensive reach of mobile networks and the ubiquity and ease-of-use of mobile phones, the programme will complement existing local remittances channels and make transferring low denominations of money internationally significantly more affordable.

About GSMA

The GSM Association (GSMA) is the global trade body representing more than 750 GSM mobile phone operators across 218 countries and territories of the world. The Association’s members represent more than 3 billion GSM and 3GSM connections – over 86% of the world’s mobile phone connections. In addition, more than 200 manufacturers and suppliers support the Association’s initiatives.

The primary goals of the GSMA are to ensure mobile phones and wireless services work globally and are easily accessible, enhancing their value to individual customers and national economies, while creating new business opportunities for operators and their suppliers.

For further information contact:
David Pringle