New Branchless Banking Resources – Headlines for April 2011

There are several new resources that have come out recently on branchless banking.

  1. PlaNet Finance and Oliver Wyman published a joint report called Beyond payments – Next generation Mobile Banking for the Masses. Sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the report looks at distribution strategies and second generation mobile microfinance products via pilots in West Africa and Southeast Asia. Two distinct innovative models were explored through the pilots: 1) the distribution of microfinance through mobile money via existing microfinance banks; and 2) the distribution of microfinance through a virtual microfinance bank operating as a pure mobile player. You can download the full report here or here.
  2. Colleagues at the World Bank recently published the book Protecting Mobile Money against Financial Crimes: Global Policy Challenges and Solutions. Given the boom in the mobile money industry, the authors are responding to the fact that regulators often struggle to craft a regulatory regime that expands access to financial services to the poor through the development of mobile phone financial services, while at the same time being compliant with AML/CFT standards. The paper 1) takes stock of new AML/CFT regulations relevant to mobile money; 2) designs guidelines for drafting AML/CFT regulations that cover mobile money; and 3) proposes examples of best practices for the industry to include AML/CFT in their own business model. The book is available for sale at
  3. In response to a perceived need for greater access to branchless banking regulatory information, Oxford Policy Management has developed a branchless banking regulatory database. The purpose of this database is: 1) to provide the user with in-depth information on regulation of branchless banking in specific countries; and 2) to allow the user to compare regulatory practices across different countries worldwide. You can access the database, which is still under development, here.
  4. The Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion at UC Irvine wrote a final report on mobile money in Haiti, highlighting the potentials and challenges they see in the future development of the market.
  5. And here at CGAP, let me take this opportunity (again) to point you to some recent research on the commercial landscape in mobile banking, business case insights on mobile money, our new Branchless Banking Database and Agent Management Toolkit, and branchless banking country notes on Brazil and Mexico.

If that’s not enough reading for you, here’s some other news that caught my attention. Safaricom has expanded its partnership with Western Union, directly challenging once again the core business of banks. There’s some movement in the credit card space both domestically in the US and internationally. The growing use of mobile money has attracted Visa and MasterCard to set up base in Kenya. But as explains, their value-add isn’t entirely clear:

Unique features of this market could make the global giants review their penetration strategy in this region. Even though cards have been in the market for over two decades, their uptake has been very slow compared to mobile money…and the two have to either compete or partner with them.

Visa is moving aggressively in other markets as well. They have just made a strategic investment in the mobile payments company Square. Square allows merchants to process and manage credit card transactions with a “square” swiping device that plugs into one’s iPhone or Android. This latest idea from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has gained a lot of traction lately:

This has certainly been an eventful first half of the year for Square. Not only has the company signed a retail deal with one of the most well-known retailers in the world, but it has raised funding from a group of marquis investors, dropped the $0.15 per transaction charge for businesses using the mobile payments service, debuted a massive billboard in Times Square, and now has a strategic partner in one of the biggest credit card giants in the world, Visa.


- Sarah Rotman


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