GSMA reveals strong growth in mobile financial service usage

BARCELONA, Spain - The GSMA revealed mobile money services are enjoying rapid growth globally, with 24 million new users accessing services in the year to end-June 2013, and the number of registered accounts almost trebling over two years.

Latest figures from the Association show 61 million active mobile money users and 203 million registered accounts at end-June 2013, compared to 37 million users in June 2012, and 71 million accounts in June 2011. Some 219 services in 84 countries had launched by end-June 2013, up from 179 services in 75 countries at end-2012, the Association revealed in its latest Mobile Financial Services State of the Industry report.

Services covered in the report include mobile money, insurance, credit and savings. Data is drawn from the GSMA's MMU Global Adoption Survey, an online MMU Deployment Tracker, and qualitative information from the GSMA's mobile money programme.

Speaking from the Mobile World Congress trade show, the GSMA said growth in users and account numbers is due to positive regulatory reforms, but noted the majority of mobile money services (52 per cent) remain in sub-Saharan Africa.

Tom Phillips, chief regulatory officer at the GSMA, said the report shows mobile money services are having an "enormous impact" in emerging markets, where mobile financial services are "helping millions of people to manage their daily lives and improve their livelihoods".

The report also highlights "how operators are working collaboratively in developing mobile money services to meet growing customer demand," Phillips added.

Michael Corbat, CEO of bank, Citigroup, separately told MWC 2014 delegates his company has enjoyed great success partnering with operators, an element industry experts believe is key to the success of telecom companies' mobile financial services.

Citigroup has partnerships with America Movil in Latin America, and 3 Hong Kong, which cover emerging and mature markets respectively, Corbat explained. The company's Transfer service with America Movil targets unbanked users and has 1.2 million active users, 60 per cent of which are new to banking, and is reeling in 120,000 new customers a month.

In Hong Kong, the company has "launched 3 City Wallet, a smartphone app that provides integrated payments, [and] loyalty programmes."

Corbat said Citigroup is also working with a major US insurance company to develop a payment system for healthcare billing.

"In each of these cases we're beginning our global banking platforms and capabilities to help create a new digital ecosystem and drive value," Corbat said, adding. "However, we recognise that success requires more than Citigroup. It requires partnerships across the value chain, and respect for the capabilities that different institutions can bring."

For more:
- see the GSMA release

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