October 11, 2007

Banking with mobile phone

The world's second money transfer system with mobile phone (after Philippines) was introduced in Kenya in March 2007. Kenya's biggest mobile operator Safaricom lets subscribers send M-Pesa, or mobile money convertible into cash to other phone users by SMS. The customers of the Safaricom network can keep up to 50,000 shillings (£370) in a "virtual account" on their handsets and use it for payment. Kenya's population is 35 million and 8 million of them own mobile phone.

Originally targeted for the urban people's demand to send money to their families in rural areas this has revolutionized rural trade in Kenya. Now goat traders can sell goats and come home carrying virtual money or M-Pesa. One Goat seller recalls that he was robbed off his mobile but did not lose any money. All he did was to replace his sim card and carried on again. They transfer money to other mobiles by sending a text message with a pin code. The recipient collects cash from625 local agents, who are based in Safaricom outlets, petrol stations and supermarkets by showing the code, identification and answering a security question. Safaricom profits by charging customers about 5 per cent of the value of their transfers.

In Bangladesh, mobile phone networks are extensive, the operators penetration in rural areas are high and it is one of the fastest growing Telecom sector in South Asia. The rural people of Bangladeshi can use such mobile money. Any takers?


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