By Scott Thompson
Citi and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) have partnered to accelerate mobile money adoption in developing countries.
The two note that, of the five billion mobile phone users worldwide, nearly two billion lack access to banking services, instead relying on cash transactions that expose them to potential theft, fraud or loss, and high-cost lending and remittance providers that leave them vulnerable to endless debt and high fees. They will therefore work with governments, donors, industry and other participants in the payments system. USAID is set to stump up $23 million, whilst Citi will integrate its core banking services with mobile money platforms. The partnership will expand current USAID efforts in mobile solutions and focus on implementing a set of principles in nine countries, with an initial emphasis on Colombia, Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya and the Philippines.
USAID administrator Raj Shah says: “The ability to store and transfer money, as well as to make small payments using mobile phones, has the potential to lift millions out of poverty, just as the Green Revolution did in the 1960s. Our partnership with Citi, a global banking leader, will accelerate implementation of these new services in a smart and safe way.”
“Mobile money is a game-changing endeavour with the potential to improve lives, create jobs, catalyse new enterprises and expand financial inclusion, particularly in the emerging markets that are critical to the growth of the global economy,” comments Citi CEO, Vikram Pandit. “As we approach our 200th anniversary, we are proud to work with USAID to accelerate mobile money adoption with tools and solutions that eliminate barriers to access, improve security, and enhance education.”