ITU to promote mobile money for the poor

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has established a focus group on digital financial services to promote financial inclusion using ICT. It says the initiative is in response to a proposal from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is a member of ITU's standardisation body.

“Over 2.5 billion adults do not have access to a formal bank account, most of them in developing economies,” said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré. “Internationally standardised mobile money platforms will increase financial inclusion to the benefit of socio-economic development worldwide.

Touré said digital financial services are capable of improving the delivery of basic financial services to millions of people. “Standards will drastically reduce costs to service providers and their customers, thereby opening the door to remote and underserved communities.

“The extraordinary impact of mobile money solutions in developing countries has highlighted that ICT is at the heart of innovation in financial services. What is lacking is an international standard that will allow interoperability between different operators.”

Rodger Voorhies, director of the ‘financial services for the poor team’ at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said: “Poor people lead incredibly complex financial lives. Cut off from even the most basic banking services, they are trapped in a cash-based system that is risky, expensive, and inefficient – a system that prevents them from buffering against risk and investing in their futures.