This post is written by Sam Grant, an SBI consultant based in Brisbane, Australia
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.