Mobile Money turns 10

The mobile financial services community is celebrating the tenth anniversary of mobile money. The first ever mobile financial service was launched in Zambia in 2002. It was launched by Celpay, and powered by Visa-owned Fundamo. The service was the first in a movement that has fundamentally transformed the way unbanked and under-banked people in developing nations use financial services.

The service was launched in partnership with six major banks to provide a secure and convenient method to transfer money. Celpay enabled instantaneous payments via the mobile phone, and in doing so, removed the risks associated with cash and cheque payments in Zambia.

“The launch of the Celpay service ten years ago was the beginning of a community that has had a profound social, economic and technological impact in Africa and beyond,” said Hannes van Rensburg, CEO at Fundamo.

“Implementations such as the one we started in Zambia have ignited the imagination of our community and the wider world. As we look to the future, we are certain that mobile will continue to play a critical role as a driver of financial inclusion worldwide”.

Celpay Zambia was instrumental in the growth of mobile money, processing funds equal to 10 per cent of the Zambian GDP between 2005 and 2010. Today, Celpay Zambia partners with 15 banks, has extended into new geographical markets and has processed in excess of $2bn in mobile payments, with global brands such as SABMiller, Total and BP joining as customers.

“When we launched Celpay in Zambia, we had no idea that we were pioneers. We just found a solution to a business problem using mobile technology,” added Lazarus Muchenje, chief executive of Celpay International. “The Zambian deployment was a runaway success and gave a glimpse of the potential mobile financial services had to offer.”

In ten years, 100 million people have been newly ‘banked’ using mobile technology, although mobile financial services are far from reaching their potential. According to the GSMA, 2.5 billion adults still lack access to formal financial services, such as savings, payments, loans and insurance. Juniper Research has forecast that the number of newly ‘banked’ people will double to 200 million by 2013.

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