This post is written by Sam Grant, an SBI consultant based in Brisbane, Australia
- Original Drawing by Sam Grant
Low Battery, beep beep beep, power down. It has happened to all of us, out and about during our busy daily lives, conversing with friends or business colleagues, when all of a sudden our mobile phone battery dies, and with it our ability to receive the latest tweet, SMS or Facebook status update. Now imagine that your cell phone is also your wallet and when it turns off so does your access to cash.
One of the benefits of a traditional wallet is that it will never display a “low battery” message and does not require an electrical outlet. A vital, if somewhat peripheral input in every alternative delivery channel (ADC) system is electricity. Without reliable, affordable access to electricity the advantages offered through mobile enabled financial services is severely restrained. If the path to improving access to financial services is tied to portable electronic devices then this path must also encompass issues surrounding access to energy. Cell phone ownership has permeated most urban environments around the world but growth in rural areas is constrained by network coverage and access to energy. In rural areas where population density is low, villagers often must walk great distances to charge their mobile phones. Many of these cell phone users only turn on their phones when a specific need arises. In order to tap into the expansive amount of activity and innovation taking place in the “banking beyond branches” ecosystem, rural populations and financial service providers must find a way to overcome the charging challenge.
This post is written by Ryan Falvey, an SBI Consultant based in San Francisco, CA.
Mobile money practitioners are a diverse lot. We hail from dozens of countries – both developed and developing – some of us are older, with decades of experience, while others are fresh out of school. Some practitioners believe in the power of markets and are distrustful of government regulation, while others view the market as a force that must be closely regulated. Some practitioners think that conventional banks are the problem, while many believe they are the solution. However, what all of us share is a core belief that improving access to financial services, improves lives. We believe that a safe places to save, improved access to credit, and secure means of transferring funds allows people to live more comfortable, secure and productive lives.
Most of us also believe that the financial system, as it’s currently configured, doesn’t do this – especially in emerging economies. While there are nearly as many bank accounts in the world as people – 6.2 billion – there is in unequal penetration of these accounts. With nearly 3.2 accounts per adult in developed countries – equating to 81% of the population – but only .9 accounts per adult in developing countries — and only 28% banked. Since we know that bank accounts are positively associated with development and physical infrastructure, improving access to the formal financial sector is a priority. (http://bit.ly/qLYZtd) Continue reading
Photo credit: Faisal Shaheed, bKash
Low income people, like these day laborers in Bangladesh, are typically working away from home and will be paid cash-in-hand at the end of the day. They may be based in a location far from a bank branch – and yet need a safe place to keep their money and an effective way of sending money home to their families.