Developing Mobile Money Initiatives in EBRD Countries

EBRD conferenceDebbie Watkins, Head, Implementation for SBI’s Alternative Delivery Channels Practice, moderated a panel discussion on “Key Commercial Success Factors and Business Models for developing M-Money initiatives” at EBRD’s inaugural Mobile Money conference held in London on March 14, 2013.

EBRD – the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development – fosters transition to market economies in countries from central and eastern Europe to central Asia and the southern and eastern Mediterranean. The conference was designed as a platform to discuss mobile money and raise awareness for the challenges and opportunities specific to the region. Experts from banks and mobile companies working in the region address topics including: potential business models, regulatory requirements and how to drive consumer adoption.

Results from an EBRD study on mobile money initiatives in the EBRD region were also presented for the first time, and highlighted variations in approaches and country demographics according to the following categories:

Emerging: countries with growing labor migration and a desire for global financial inclusion. They need m-finance in its most basic forms: domestic money transfers, m-wallets and m-remittances. Engaging post offices is a better way to reach rural societies in these countries; brick and mortar financial institutions won’t work as well.

Migrators: countries with large populations of retailers wanting to expand their businesses, wealthy individuals seeking alternative ways to transfer funds and middle classes quickly adopting new technologies. Services useful here include m-payments and e-or m-commerce, facilitating further retail growth and transaction-based m-money usage.

Adopters: nations with high levels of telco and m-money engagement, some of the most sophisticated of the EBRD region. They feature a rapid adoption of technology, a rising consumer class and increasing movement towards a cashless society. Services include the most sophisticated of m-money services, including m-micropayments, payments made via mobile on a daily basis.

Debbie’s panel included representatives from the Central Bank of Russia, Vodafone and Mpayme, together with Njuguna Ndungu, the Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya. The one hour conversation discussed variations in demand and approach between the panelists’ countries; the need for interoperability to create compelling value propositions for the customer; ways for mobile money initiatives to address money laundering concerns; and the pros and cons of different methods of verifying customer identity.

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