GSMA Announces Six New Grant Recipients of the Mobile Money for the Unbanked Programme

The GSMA, the body that represents the worldwide mobile communications industry, today revealed the details of six additional grants from the Mobile Money for the Unbanked Fund (MMU), which is administered by the GSMA Foundation, Inc. New grantees include AKTEL in Bangladesh, Dialog Telekom PLC in Sri Lanka, Grameenphone Ltd in Bangladesh, MTN Cameroon, MTN Uganda and Vodacom Tanzania. Grants are available for projects promoting the uptake of mobile money services for the unbanked and underbanked, with funding for projects up to a value of US$1million.

“These and our previously announced MMU grants are being used to significantly accelerate acceptance and adoption of mobile money services for base of the pyramid customers globally,” said Gavin Krugel, Director GSMA. “The operators are working to reduce the infrastructure gap that exists in rural areas and are making mCommerce more accessible, convenient and affordable to customers.”

“Mobile money can change the lives of unbanked people for the better. Mobile money services bring genuine and immediate benefits, by helping people carry out the kind of daily transactions and remittances we take for granted, or by providing monetary tools to help improve a small business or even set one up. For most it will be the first time they have had a financial identity – this is a profound and positive change,” Eden Zoller, Principal Analyst, Ovum.

According to research, only 13 per cent of the population of Bangladesh has a bank account, which means that upwards of 130m people have no access to formal financial services. MMU funds have been awarded to two participants in Bangladesh, AKTEL (a joint venture company between Axiata Group Berhad of Malaysia and NTT DoCoMo, Japan) and Grameenphone Ltd. In November, AKTELwill launch a bill payment service (through mobile) for electricity subscribers, which has been awarded by the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) to AKTEL. Under the mCommerce initiative, AKTEL is introducing SMS and IVR based services with the aim of assisting financially constrained rural communities who wish to mobilise money in an easier and faster manner. Grameenphone aims to improve penetration of financial services to rural areas to enable migrant workers in urban locations to remit funds to their families based in those rural communities.

By reaching the underbanked, the unbanked and those financially handicapped by high interest rates from existing services, Grameenphone and AKTEL are enabling individuals to create financial identities which will benefit the whole community. With regulatory approval, the implementation of mobile money services will enable Bangladeshis to take advantage of more efficient, less time consuming and more secure new services and in the long run help alleviate poverty in Bangladesh.

Sri Lankan-based Dialog plans to introduce mCommerce services to the North and North–Central provinces of Sri Lanka. Dialog will focus on regions deficient in financial services infrastructure, and on initiatives to enhance people’s lives by providing a range of mCommerce services at affordable prices including utility bill payment, person-to-person money transfers, over-the-counter payments and cash withdrawal/deposits.

Less than 10 per cent of the working population of Cameroon has a bank account due to poor banking infrastructure and low penetration but also, as the majority of Camaroonians are self employed, they do not have the payslips that are required to open accounts. MTN’s MobileMoney service, which was created by partnering with a large microfinance network, will reach out to the farmers, workers and small entrepreneurs where money transfer can be used for peer to peer, account to cash and cash to cash payments. Subject to regulatory approval, MobileMoney will also be used to pay utility bills which can be received directly to mobile phones and payment made instantly.

According to research, 60 per cent of the Ugandan populace does not have access to any type of services and 71 per cent save in ‘secret’ places such as under the bed. MTN Uganda will help connect the 86 per cent of people who live and work in rural areas to banking services, paying particular interest to small-scale traders and those who buy and sell agricultural produce. MTN services highlight the simplicity and security of mobile money transfer, which will narrow the gap between rural and urban communities and enable merchants to use mobile money transfer to reduce transport costs and to help them to avoid being the target for opportunistic thieves.

Vodacom Tanzania has an established and growing M-PESA customer base, however lack of disposable cash on the part of the agent network is seen as a major obstacle to increase agent e-money float holding and hence transaction volumes. The MMU grant will support a project to enable Vodacom Tanzania to provide a geographically wider line of e-money credit or revolving credit to increase the total float holding value within the M-PESA agent network. This additional investment will see customer access and usage improve as entrepreneurs are empowered to invest in the M-PESA business opportunity and grow the agent network

The MMU programme is supported by a US$12.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and works with mobile operators, banks, microfinance institutions, government and development organizations to encourage the expansion of reliable, affordable mobile financial services to the unbanked. The MMU Fund exists to accelerate mobile money deployments which target base of the pyramid customers who are unbanked and is considering applications from operators around the world.

About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry. Spanning 219 countries and territories, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators, as well as more than 200 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers, Internet companies, and media and entertainment organisations. The GSMA is focused on innovating, incubating and creating new opportunities for its membership, all with the end goal of driving the growth of the mobile communications industry.

For more information, please visit Mobile World Live, the new online portal for the mobile communications industry, at or the GSMA corporate website at or alternatively contact:

Richard Fogg: +44 7887 845 236
Daniel Lowther: +44 7747 636 687
[email protected]

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