Remittances: mobile phones' latest remit

A new programme combining mobile phones and banking facilities should make it easier for the world's 200 million international migrants to send remittances back home.

Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

The GSM Association (GSMA, the global trade association of mobile operators) and Mastercard are piloting the scheme with the help of 19 mobile operators covering networks in 100 countries and 600 million customers. The scheme's aim is to make international transfers more affordable and to reach out to those left out by the banking system.

The remittance market is currently worth $230 billion a year and the GSMA expects this could quadruple by 2012 and benefit some 1.5 billion people worldwide. India, the world's fastest-growing mobile phone services market, is also the biggest recipient of overseas remittances in the world (about 10% of the market). Projects launched in rural Himalayan areas have proved very successful. Other pilots are taking place in the Philippines and Bahrain.

"The programme will resonate with governments because it makes the international payment market more transparent, encourages financial inclusion reduces crime and boosts the flow of hard currency into their countries," says Napoleon Nazareno, CEO of Smart Communications, a Filipino firm taking part in the GSMA initiative.

The scheme has been identified by several development agencies as a way to alleviate poverty and end rural communities' economic isolation. "We are mobilising financial services for the billions of people who are unbanked and the underbanked," concludes Rob Conway, the CEO of the GSMA.

Review by Emilie Filou

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Why collaborations fail

Collaboration needn’t be a dirty word.

How redundancies affect culture

There are ways of preventing 'survivor syndrome' derailing your recovery.

What they don't tell you about inclusive leadership

Briefing: Frances Frei was hired to fix Uber’s ‘bro culture’. Here’s her lesson for where...

Should you downsize the office?

Many businesses are preparing for a 'hybrid' workplace.

How to make your team more accountable

‘Do as I do’ works a lot better than ‘do as I say’.

Black talent isn’t hard to find: It’s just you

If you want to attract the widest range of applicants, you need to think about...