First National Bank (FNB) has just released their eWallet money transfer solution to non-account holders in South Africa by partnering with PEP stores, enabling individuals to access financial services through its 1,200 outlets. FNB is a good example; the financial industry should not focus on additive mobile banking at the expense of the potentially more lucrative opportunity offered by transformational banking.
Entering into 2012 the global economic panorama remains bleak: unsustainable inflation, high unemployment and low interest rates.
However, Africa demonstrates that investing in the mobile channel can be beneficial fuelled by cross-industry collaboration between the Government, MNOs, solution providers, and retail outlets. It has recognised that investment in fixed infrastructure will only get the economy so far and is investing in more innovative and complementary solutions, and developing regulatory frameworks that promote this.
With mobile penetration nearing and in some cases exceeding 100%, the mobile is one such innovation that can reach into localities that have hitherto been inaccessible, providing a readily available low-cost, basic banking infrastructure and communication channel available to everyone and facilitating finance for entrepreneurs.
Undoubtedly, Africa plays host to some of the most pioneering and successful mobile payment and banking provisions for the financially excluded in the world, including Vodafone’s M-PESA and M-KESHO that collaborates with local telco and retail partners to offer its payment and banking services via the mobile. Yet success is by no means restricted to Africa alone, other emerging nations such as Bangladesh, Brazil, and China are equally demonstrating momentum for mobile-based services by financial institutions such as Dutch-Bangla Bank.
However, in India, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has recently pronounced its disappointment with the Indian banking sector for failing to promote mobile banking sufficiently; having authorised 53 banks for mBanking services, only 33 had begun offering it by December 2011. Does this demonstrate governments that are similarly driving for financial inclusion through the mobile, such as Africa, Bangladesh, and China have only realised success as a result of significant co-operation across the eco-system?