Grameen-Obopay partnership latest in mobile banking initiatives

Grameen Solutions, an affiliate of Muhammad Yunus’s Grameen Bank, has teamed up with Obopay Inc, a US for-profit mobile payment company, to bring banking to poor people in developing countries using mobile phones. The joint venture plans to launch pilot programmes in India and Bangladesh in October and aims to reach a billion people globally by 2018, mainly by keeping costs low, possibly with the help of charitable foundations. Obopay is already active in the US, where customers who want to send money pay 10 cents per transaction. What transaction fees would be for India and Bangladesh has yet to be announced. Mobile banking services have proved popular in developing countries – for example, the Philippines, Kenya and South Africa – where more people have access to mobile phones than banks. The profits, as well as the benefits to users, could be big for companies providing these services, according to Boston Consulting Group, which estimates that people who are now ‘unbanked’ in China, India and Brazil alone could generate $85 billion in banking revenue by 2015.

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