We are always researching the latest innovations in mobile technology for potential investments for the BSP Fund. Here are some of the stories that caught our attention in mobile technology and mobile money.

How can financial services work best for the poor? by Anna Scott on The Guardian
In order to develop a service that effectively serves a poor population, it is necessary to consider their needs. The product should be designed around the customers’ behavior and should be adjusted to their changing contexts and needs. These theories can be applied to any technology, but is particularly applicable to the mobile money programs that leverage basic SMS and “send money home” habits.

Banks battle mobile networks for hidden cash in townships by Chris Spillane on Mobile Money Africa
While the mobile money services offered by telecommunications companies, such as Vodacom and Safaricom, spread quickly throughout much of East Africa, banks in South Africa are fighting for their potential customers. Unregulated banks in East Africa allowed for phone companies to easily adjust to the banking needs of their customers. However, the established banks in South Africa have chosen to not let their customers go without a fight. As a rebuttal to phone companies implementing banking programs, banks have began to incorporate mobile technologies in order to profit from this massive market.

Kenya’s mobile money transfer hits  $5 billion in Q1 on Ventures Africa
Mobile phone based transactions across Kenya reached US$5 billion (Ksh425 billion) in the first three months of 2013. Despite the drop in transactions in February and March due to an increase the taxes on mobile money transfers, the number of subscribers increased steadily throughout the quarter. This resulted in a total of 22.3 million subscribers by the end of March.

How mobile money improves development outcomes for the unbanked by Wayan Vota on ICTworks
Based on the large number of mobile money customers, and the speed at which the technology is spreading across the developing world, mobile money appears to be one of the most promising tools for development. While there are still potential barriers with literacy levels, if developed and scaled correctly, mobile technology has the potential to provide banking to the unbanked.

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