GSMA Foundation Announces Grants From Mobile Money for Unbanked Program

GSMA, an association that represents the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry, has announced seven grants from its Mobile Money for the Unbanked Fund, which is administered by the GSMA Foundation and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The MMU Fund works with mobile operators, banks, microfinance institutions, government, and development organizations to encourage the expansion of reliable and affordable mobile financial services to the unbanked. Its latest grants were awarded to Cellcard in Cambodia, Digicel in Fiji, Orange in western Africa, Safaricom in Kenya, Tata Indiacom in India, Telenor in Pakistan, and Tigo in Africa.

The types of projects supported by the funds vary. Digicel Fiji, for example, will use its grant to launch a low-cost mobile wallet product designed to improve access to commercial transactions through the company's existing distributor network, while Orange will study customer needs in Cote d'Ivoire, Senegal, and Mali — where less than 4 percent of the population is banked but more than a third owns a mobile phone — to introduce more advanced financial services.

"Just fifteen months after we first announced the launch of the Mobile Money for the Unbanked Program, we are proud to announce that all funds have been committed in support of mobile money deployments across the globe," said GSMA director Gavin Krugel. "Projects were chosen on their ability to deliver, speed of delivery, scale, and sophistication. Between now and the end of 2011, millions of consumers [in Latin America, Africa, and Asia] are expected to directly benefit from mobile money services launched with the support of the fund...."