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

November 18, 2009

HONG KONG, November 18 /PRNewswire/ — 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

“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,

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, 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
http://www.mobileworldlive.com or the GSMA corporate website at
http://www.gsmworld.com or http://www.mmublog.org


Source: newswire

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