Citi and USAID team up on mobile money

US government agency the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and bank Citi have announced a global partnership to promote the rapid adoption of mobile money technology in developing nations.

USAID and Citi said that they will work with governments, donors, industry and other participants in the payments system to support local mobile money platforms, and will contribute over $23m to the cause. Citi will also integrate its core banking services with mobile money platforms to provide seamless integration between banking and last-mile, mobile-based payments services.

The partnership will expand current USAID efforts in mobile solutions and focus on implementing a set of principles in nine countries, initially focusing on: Colombia, Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya, and the Philippines.

Of the five billion mobile phone users worldwide, nearly two billion lack access to banking services, according to the two, instead relying on cash transactions that expose them to potential theft, fraud or loss, and high-cost lending and remittance providers that leave them vulnerable to endless debt and high fees.

“The ability to store and transfer money, as well as to make small payments using mobile phones, has the potential to lift millions out of poverty, just as the Green Revolution did in the 1960s,” said USAID administrator Raj Shah. “Our partnership with Citi, a global banking leader, will accelerate implementation of these new services in a smart and safe way.”

Citi CEO Vikram Pandit added: “Mobile money is a game-changing endeavour with the potential to improve lives, create jobs, spawn new enterprises, and expand financial inclusion, particularly in the emerging markets that are critical to the growth of the global economy.”

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