The Gates Foundation has given a $24 million grant to support mobile banking and other programs that use technology to expand access to financial services. The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) is the recipient of the 4-year grant announced today. Statistics on mobile phone use from the press release:
The business case for serving poor people has long been apparent to many in the telecommunications industry, which has seen the number of mobile phone subscribers double -- to two billion -- in just over two years. Some 80 percent of that growth has been in developing countries.
Mobile phone penetration has definitely outpaced the reach of microfinance providers, like Grameen. More from the release:
With many thousands of providers worldwide, the microfinance industry has grown considerably, but penetration remains low, especially among the very poorest. Barriers to that penetration include weak institutions, ineffective aid, and inappropriate policies and regulations.
For more information, see CGAP's Technology Program.