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Mobile Banking Boom in Emerging Markets


Have you used mobiles to pay credit card bills or transfer money among accounts via any Bank App? It’s far more convenient than visiting to a bank and waiting in line at counter for these trivials. With mobile banking boom on the horizon, many banks have adopted new technology to catch up with this inevitable Bank 3.0 trend, and release their own App to attract customers.

However, you may wonder whether this trend only happens in developed countries in terms of smartphone penetration rate. How about emerging markets with plenty of unbankable population, who cannot afford expensive gadgets? Surprisingly, people there may use mobile banking services daily more often than you’d expected. Below are some of the findings.

1. Text Banking
It’s not only smartphones can do mobile payments, but also any outdated mobile capable of texting messages can do it via “Text Banking”, a service which allows you to quickly request or receive account information via text message.

2. Prevalent among small businesses
It fundamentally revolutionized how people do small businesses. For example, a fisherman in Kenya rural village used to spend days commuting between home and local market for vending in person. Now, he can deliver fish through a bus and receive payment remotely at home. It saves both time and money to nurture his business dramatically.

3. Credibility/fraud concerns
However, it might backfire in both personal security and credit fraud issues. How can one ensure that his/her personal transaction records, such as amount, GPS location, account number etc, in the phone log won’t be exposed accidently or intentionally from the telecom company side? On the other hand, how can the bank or telecom company prevent one from using single-use cell phones for trafficking or frauds without further credit investigation in advance?

Mobile banking is without doubt rising and popular in emerging countries now. Many NGOs or banks are probing to reach out these unbankable population. How to find a balance between financial regulations and usage convenience is the key to build a better solution locally.

  By Ethan Li 
  Project Manager


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