Weekly Review March 28 – April 1


Via NextBillion

Every week at ID, we read about what we do and what we like. This week we read a lot about mobile technology.

In the Philippines, Global Telecom runs the GCASH mobile money service and is starting a program to support the government’s poverty alleviation programs. The platform, GCASH REMIT, supports the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, a government initiative that enables the country’s poorest families “to pay for health care, nutrition and education, provided they comply with certain conditions such as keeping children in school, attending regular health check-ups and vaccinating their children.” GCASH REMIT allows for the widespread, efficient distribution of the CCT grants.
In Africa Hi-Tech is Taking Centre Stage” by André-Michael Essoungou @allafrica
Africans are depending on mobile technology now for banking, travel, shopping, and more. It’s changing their way of life and finally allowing for development. The “information and communications technology (ICT) sector” has seen unparalleled growth in Africa, “with annual revenues now estimated at around $50 billion.” The unparalleled growth, outside investments, and regulatory reform are the three major contributing factors to the success in the ICT sector. Today, almost 400 million Africans have mobile phones and 100 million have Internet access. Outside investors, from big companies like Vodafone and smaller ones like Invested Development, are attracted to the high growth and high returns in the industry. Many institutions and policies have been implemented throughout Africa.
Besides the quick, efficient transfer of funds for individuals, mobile applications can also be used by small and medium sized businesses (just like FrogTek in South America). Small- and medium- sized businesses need to take and make frequent payments, and mobile money applications are a convenient, cheap, and quick way to do so. For a small business, mobile applications allow for increased efficiency as cash moves quickly and inventory moves smoothly. Research shows that nearly 33% of mobile money transactions were to purchase or sell goods or services in Uganda. Another research study in Tanzania reports on the benefits of mobile applications for entrepreneurs.
Mercy Corps is working to rebuild Haitian communities by offering easy access to financial services and unconditional grants. However, in order for mobile money to be effective, the mobile ecosystem needs to be complete with local vendors who are “willing and able to support small-cash out needs.” It was difficult to find such vendors, but finally Mercy Corps found a man with an entrepreneurial sprirt named Jean Phillip Janvier, who enabled cash-outs in Saut D’Eau. Seeing Jean Philip’s success encouraged more vendors and continued to increase the effectiveness of Mercy Corps’ mobile noney program in Haiti.
Western Union is one of the world’s most trusted companies for money transfers. With over 80,000 participating agencies, people in 45 countries can now send money to the mobile wallets of 13.5 million M-PESA subscribers in Kenya. This new partnership will “benefit thousands of Kenyans working abroad” allowing them to send money home.  With the growth of the mobile money industry, companies are attracted to financial and strategic benefits that come hand in hand with social enterprise. Western Union will continue to create agreements with other mobile operators throughout the world.