Mobile money – an update

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Past PSD bloggers have pointed to the growing use of mobile phones to facilitate financial services (see past posts on a workshop on IT and financial services and on regulatory issues related to mobile financial services). These posts suggest that masses of previously underbanked individuals are taking advantage of these services. Until now, this phenomenon has been largely confined to relatively peaceful countries like the Philippines and South Africa. According to a blurb in today’s Financial Times, however, mobile phone financial services (subscription required) may be moving into new terrain. According to Karim Khoja, the chief executive of an Afghan mobile phone company, a partnership he has formed could

…leapfrog the banking system in the same way as we leapfrogged wires in the ground.

Afghanistan seems to be an appropriate proving ground to test this possibility. According to the article, any movement of cash in Afghanistan requires heavily armed convoys. Bank branches have been set up in only five cities throughout the entire country. Perhaps mobile phones will be of even greater value in a conflict-ridden country like Afghanistan than in South Africa or the Philippines.


Ryan Hahn

Operations Officer

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